Top leaders of corporations in Kenya would be expected to take their children to expensive private primary schools. Not the Managing Director of Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO). Mr. Fernandes Barasa says that his kids have all schooled at public institutions while at primary school level.
The father of four boys, Barasa says the decision is deliberate. “Being at public primary school brings about humility,” he says. “It’s also about being realistic so that the children do not develop culture shock later on in life when they meet people from diverse backgrounds.”
The head of the firm charged with providing high voltage transmission lines in Kenya narrates how the diversity at public institutions is healthy for children’s upbringing. He adds that his children are also ingrained towards household chores, such as washing clothes for themselves rather than have someone else do it for them. “They do everything for themselves.”
In an article in The Economist in June 2018, the London based newspaper outlined how elite private schools are booming in Kenya.
According to the piece, government policy plays a part in encouraging the growth of private schools. With the initiative for free primary and secondary educátion for all, rising grants from central government have brought fees down. Pupil numbers have therefore been increasing, meaning some from the growing middle class end up preferring private educátion.
Barasa therefore seems to be an outlier in this, bucking the trend by having his children study at public primary institutions based in Mumias.
The result; his son Thorne Barasa was placed third best in the Western region with 437 marks out of a possible 500 marks in last year’s KCPE. He is currently at Alliance Boys High School and his father says “he is one to watch.”
Focus, late nights and open door policy
The KETRACO MD, speaking to Business Today in an interview, also opened up about the life of a top executive.
He says that the job requires a lot of multitasking, as one is usually juggling many balls in the air.
“You must know how to balance stakeholder expectations versus company expectations,” he says, also alluding to the politics that exist within the corner office.
A man who enjoys reading Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power, Barasa says that he is usually up at around 5am in the morning, and sleeps well past midnight.
“Awareness is key because you have to be alert in case phone calls come at night and decisions need to be made at any time,” he adds.
The secret to this is maintaining focus. “Keep your eye on the ball.”
A soccer fan who supports Arsenal Football Club, the KETRACO MD also says that keeping fit is important and that he regularly goes to the gym in the evenings because that is when he found that he has time.
Barasa also says that he encourages an open door policy wherein every month he holds a monthly forum with members of his staff. The forum allows staff members to question him while he clarifies the direction in which he is leading the firm.
The KETRACO MD, who holds the prestigious honorary FCPA designation that is awarded to CPAs, also describes himself as a staunch Catholic. He attends the Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church that is located at Ridgeways along Kiambu Road.
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