A silent but vicious revolt against a new team of Indian expatriates hired by Nation Media Group (NMG) to shore up its digital division is building up and threatens to reverse gains made by the media house in restoring stability in its operations.
The three digital media experts running the digital division at NMG have come under fire for alleged high handedness and insubordination of locals.
The trio is led by Rashmi Chugh, who was appointed two years ago but publicly unveiled only recently as the NMG head of digital. After being hired from HT Media India, Ms Chugh is said to have brought in two more Indian digital media experts . They are Kanwar Deep Singh, the Lead- Business Development who is described as the power man at NMG Digital as he oversees all digital operations and Kudrat Sehgal, the Lead- Digital Products.
Some disgruntled Kenyan staff on the digital division, unable to raise the issue internally with management and HR for fear of being victimised, have resorted to voice their grievances through anonymous letters protesting against what has come to be known as the “Indian Gang” on the seventh floor of Nation Centre.
Ms Chugh is spearheading NMG’s new tech-driven business model that seeks to align print and broadcasting divisions to a digital-first approach.
“Since Rashmi Chugh was appointed Head of Digital things have not been running smoothly. She has clashed with all senior managers and even directors and went ahead to intimidate them just because she has the ears of two board members Yasmin Jetha and James Montogomery,” one of the letters doing rounds says.
Kanwar, on the other hand, is accused of verbally abusing local staff, and using curse words at the slightest provocation. It is said he has even clashed with a number of clients and partners, with one of the incidents resulting in law suit by a partner after Kanwar allegedly used “unprintable words to the CEO of that company to the point the client severed the partnership.”
“Working at Nation Media, 7th floor has become a nightmare, from all the shouting, playing of Gujarat music during working hours, to episodes of loud laughing by the Indian gang,” the letter says. “All this happens in the full glare of the HR department and they are incapable of doing anything.”
The competences and qualifications of the team members have also been questioned. In a move aimed at exposing them to authorities and piling pressure on them to exit “since the management of Nation Media Group cannot clearly do anything regarding this situation” they have appealed to the Ministry of Labour and Immigration Department to intervene. They want Immigration Department to scrutinise the credentials of the Indians to determine exact expatriate experience they have brought on board.
The letter claims Nation Digital growth has slowed since the Indian expats took charge, claiming the team is basking in glory achieved by Kenyans especially the 42% growth in revenues realised in 2017. From market leader online, NMG’s flagship digital platform NATION.CO.KE is currently ranked 5th on Alexa behind Standardmedia.co.ke in 4th position and Tuko.co.ke in third. The Star is comes in second while Citizentv.co.ke is 10th.
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The letters have rekindled memories of similar letters by anonymous persons in December 2006 and January 2007 just before a major retrenchment, which revealed rot in the media house’s editorial department, including alleged sexual dalliance between senior managers and junior employees.
Nation Media has been suffering bad press especially after its January retrenchment caused a storm and a fallout at NTV over election coverage that saw the station losing top journalists.