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The 11 most powerful women in corporate Kenya

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Leadership is not the preserve of any specific gender. Despite a history that leans towards patriarchy, there have always been women within any society who stood out as leaders.

And their impact causes waves, be it Rosa Parks, Wangari Maathai, Mother Theresa, Mary, Queen Victoria or Cleopatra to name just a few. Within the corporate world, some of those examples are fewer. But they do exist in Kenya, even in present times.

Business Today has taken the liberty of looking at the firms listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), seeking which companies have women at the top leadership positions.

[ READ ALSO: Companies with the most gender-balanced boards in Kenya ]

For this list, we considered women who hold the positions of either chief executive officer (CEO), its similar ranking of Managing Director (MD) and those who Chair a board of directors.

Here is what we found.

[Caveat: This list only considers companies listed on the NSE, so female CEOs such as Tabitha Karanja of Keroche Breweries or Betty Korir of Credit Bank miss out.].

What do you think ? Leave your comment at the end of the article.  

CEOs & MDs

Margaret A. Odhiambo – Eveready EA

Margaret is a legal professional and an executive business partner with experience in retail management, governance as well as  corporate and regulatory affairs, Eveready EA says.

Margaret Odhiambo
Margaret Odhiambo (Photo: Eveready EA)

She also possesses business development, operations/administration and logistics experience. Before being made MD of Eveready EA, she was head of corporate services.

Margaret has been serving as Eveready EA MD since February and is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

Gerridina Den Ten – Limuru Tea 

Gerridina Johanna Maria Ten Den heads the Unilver owned Limuru Tea as CEO. She was appointed in January 2019 with a mandate to “manage risk and corporate reputation.”

Rebecca Miano, OGW – KENGEN

Another lawyer on this list, Rebecca was the first ever woman at the helm of KENGEN when she was appointed in 2017.

Rebecca Miano
Rebecca Miano (Photo: KENGEN)

She holds a Bachelor of Laws from UoN, as well as a Masters in Comparative Law from the University of Australia.

In 2010, President Mwai Kibaki awarded her the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya.

[ READ: How women bring in more profit at much lesser risk ]

Nozipho Makhoba – Stanlib Fahari I-Reit

The South African has been acting CEO since 2018 of the only I-Reit on the NSE.

Nozipho Makhoba
Nozipho Makhoba (Photo: Stanlib Fahari I-Reit)

Nozipho did her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. She is also a registered Chartered Accountant with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Nasim Devji – Diamond Trust Bank

Nasim is one of the five women at the helm of Kenyan commercial banks. On NSE listed banks, she is one of two.

A fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICEAW), she is also an Associate of the Institute of Taxation (United Kingdom) and a Fellow of the Kenya Institute of Bankers.

Nasim Devji
Nasim Devji

The DTB CEO also sits on many boards of firms that make up the bank conglomerate within the region, while also sitting on the board of the NSE PLC.

Diane Karusisi – BK Group

Dr Diane Karusisi is an economist who heads the NSE cross-listed firm Bank of Kigali.

Prior to being BK Group CEO, Diane was the head of Strategy and Policy and Chief Economist at the Office of the President in Rwanda. She also served at the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda.

Diane Karusisi
Diane Karusisi (Photo: BK Group)

She has worked at Credit Suisse in Zurich, Switzerland and taught Statistics at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

Having studied economics and majoring in econometrics, Diane holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Fribourg.

Marion Gathoga-Mwangi – BOC Kenya

Appointed as managing director in July 2018, Mrs Mwangi has over 20 years of local and international experience in commercial and general management.

She has worked with Groupe Lactalis — Parmalat Botswana, as well as Cadbury Kenya and East Africa Limited, Unga Limited and Bayer East Africa.

Marion holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) Degree in International Business Administration from the United States International University (USIU-Africa), Kenya.

Board Chair

Lucy Waithaka – Eveready EA

With a female CEO at the helm as well, Eveready EA is one of two companies with an an all female lineup in terms of head of executive team as well as head of board of directors.

Lucy Waithaka
Lucy Waithaka. (Photo: Eveready EA)

Lucy is General Manager, Enterprise and Product Development at Export Promotion Council (EPC) which is in charge of development and promotion of Kenya’s exports.

She has served as a member of the board of directors of the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and at Sasini Ltd’s board.

Surinder Kapila – Stanlib Fahari I-Reit

Surinder is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and a business law expert. Being chair of Stanlib Fahari I-Reit makes the firm the second on the NSE that is all female led.

She helped establish the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) Court of Justice and provided technical support to USAID regional trade team to encourage free movement of goods and trade between member states.

Surinder Kapila
Surinder Kapila (Photo: Stanlib Fahari I-Reit)

The Chair of Stanlib Fahari I-Reit has previously worked as assistant legal officer for KCB Bank Limited, legal advisor and company secretary for CBA Bank Limited, legal consultant for World Bank – Agriculture Division, legal consultant for USAID Regional Legal Office and legal consultant for International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF).

She sits on the board of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), FIDA Kenya (also co-founder), Capital Club East Africa, and the Beth Mugo Cancer Foundation.

[ SEE: Six ways to drive innovation culture in your organisation ]

Isabella Ochola-Wilson – Unga Group

Previously, Isabella gained management experience working for Johnson and Johnson (K) Limited.

She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from University of Dar-es-Salaam and a Masters of Business Administration degree in Marketing from University of British Columbia, Canada.

Anne Mutahi – Standard Chartered

Anne is a past chair of the Women Enterprise Fund Kenya.

She has also worked at Middle East Bank, ABN AMRO and Citibank, as well as previously being CEO of Jitegemee Trust Limited. She founded Soko Letu which managed a trader market in Nairobi’s Central Business District.

Anne Mutahi
Anne Mutahi (Photo: dada.co.ke)

Anne holds an Executive MBA (EMBA) – University of Cape Town, South Africa and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh PA, USA.

*Bios compiled from company profiles, Reuters and Bloomberg.

[ NEXT: Forever young: Why women often lie about their age ]

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Mike Njoroge
Mike Njorogehttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Mike Njoroge is the founder of Daystar Oracle and FootballTriangle. He is passionate about news, religion and sports. He can be reached at: [email protected]
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