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  The Amalgam


How does Amalgam deliver applicable learning?

Amalgam is all about emerging African business leaders learning to collaborate in a new and diverse peer group. Here you’ll make a commitment to support one another in tackling challenges they are facing in business. Problems that, perhaps, they can't discuss with their own senior management team.

Each Amalgam class lasts a full year. The programme uses a blend of live training and coaching meetings, webinars and online content. Each participant also enjoys the support of an experienced CEO as their personal mentor. Our seasoned presenters share the priceless business and technical knowledge they have built up over the years. The programme also invites active business leaders to brief us on contemporary trends, and to share insights from their own careers.

Each of our four curriculum areas is supported with online summaries of the learning content and a detailed bibliography for further reading. Making it easy to reference Amalgam’s learning when you’re back in your busy workplace.

Everyone at Amalgam is committed to supporting our participants to become more effective in their life and work.

Working together, our participants take the learnings most relevant to them and apply them within their own companies. We invite them to report back on progress, and we celebrate the victories they win, however small. Our proof of impact lies in the positive change you will make in your business, career, and personal life.



Programme Updates

World-class Sports focus can positively impact Modern business

Amalgam just opened the year with a powerful January meeting in which one of Kenya’s leading CEOs shared his insights on applying sports psychology to business leadership.

January session highlights

In a packed programme, Amalgam CEOs first gained more applicable learning in three key curriculum areas:

In Technology Curriculum, John Waibochi, CEO of Virtual City, lectured on The Internet of Things (IoT) and shared an amazing case on the revitalization of the supply chain for Kenya Tea Development Authority.

In Leadership Curriculum, Chris Harrison, Africa Partner at The Brand Inside, spoke about the factors influencing organizational culture inside modern African enterprises.

And in Finance Curriculum, RB Ndungu offered practical advice on setting up business dashboards.

Our Mid-day Speaker was Guy Jack, CEO of the highly successful ABM Group, which includes a million-unit per year automotive battery factory, regional Sales and Marketing operations for Chloride Exide and Chloride Solar, solar panel manufacturing plant Solinc and injection moulding plant Precision Plastics. The Group has grown from small beginnings to a Ksh 8 billion turnover group under Guy’s 25-year leadership.

Outside work, Guy has:

  • Represented Kenya internationally in 2 competitive sports - skeet shooting and rally driving - at World Championship Level
  • Become a Karate Black belt and a Krav Maga expert
  • Climbed Mt. Kenya six times
  • Qualified as a pilot

Amalgam CEO’s learnt that goals, focus, commitment and mental toughness are among several leadership traits that produce wins, both in sport and business.

Thoughts on Corporate Governance

1. Financial services expert shares his thoughts on corporate governance

Mike du Toit, the Managing Director of Liberty Kenya Holdings Limited and Liberty Group’s Regional Executive for East and Central Africa, sharing a common-sense, yet powerful, approach to corporate governance at the February 2019 Amalgam session.

2. Breaking down how Internet of Things can be implemented in supply chain

John Waibochi, the Founder and CEO of Virtual City – a Mobility Solutions Company specialising in Supply Chain Automation, Knowledge Management and Interactive Solutions – illustrating how to implement internet-based distribution solutions to simplify, quicken and fraud-proof the entire supply chain, at the February 2019 Amalgam session.

3. An in-depth one-one-one session to unravel intricate business problems

Karanja Njoroge, General Manager of Chloride Exide and a member of the Amalgam 2018-19 Class, discusses a business problem with Ndirangu Maina, an Amalgam director and founder Managing Director of Consumer Insight, at the February 2019 session.

Michael G. Waweru - Implementing, and entrenching culture change at KRA

Amalgam was privileged to host Michael G. Waweru, the first commissioner general of the Kenya Revenue Authority as our guest speaker for the March session.

Michael Waweru took the Amalgam participants along on his journey from starting, implementing, and entrenching culture change in the KRA. He was the KRA commissioner General from 2002 to 2012, and at the helm when the diverse tax organizations that existed before had to be brought together under one roof, had to learn to work together, and have a common purpose and vision.

He shared with the Amalgam class how he steered the organization to the remarkable achievement of improving collections from Kshs 183 billion in 2001/2002 to Kshs 707 Billion in 2011/2012, implementing the balanced scorecard in an organization with a headcount of over 4,700, and getting the KRA voted the most respected public sector organization…..very rare for a tax authority anywhere in the world!

We sincerely thank Michael Waweru for taking the time to enlighten the Amalgam cohort.

Amalgam Session Highlights: What puts you in the grip?

Dr.Yolande Coombes engages our CEO’s on managing anger and frustration in work and home life. Today we learned that anger is a choice. We also discovered that breathing in a controlled way is a great way to dissipate anger, giving you back control in difficult situations.

Amalgam's leadership curriculum addresses three aspects of leadership:

  • - Leading the self
  • - Leading others
  • - Leading the organisation

Business financing alternatives

RB Ndungu explains the New Age of Funding. With his avuncular style he always makes the most complex Finance issues clearly understandable. Ever heard of Mezzanine Financing? Do you understand the difference between Angel Investor, Venture Capitalist and Private Equity Funding? Do you know the best Crowd Funding sites? Understand the potential of Carbon-Credit Funding? All Amalgam participants now do!

Big Data

Tim Oriedo continues his exposition on how interconnectivity is making business efficiency more possible. He shares dozens of applicable lessons for our participants to try in their own businesses. For example, classifying customers, profiling them biometrically and, through voice recognition, directing them to the most appropriate customer service response automatically. Tim stresses the importance of balancing strategy, culture and technology: “Big data is not a technology, it’s a state of mind”

How Business Leaders Should Deal with Uncertainty and Risks

How Business Leaders Should Deal with Uncertainty and Risks

Dealing with uncertainty and taking risks is an integral part of the job of a business leader. There are ways to minimise the risk of inaction and to mitigate the danger of disastrous results arising from poor decisions. Dr. Coombes took the Amalgam Leadership Programme class through a practical process to handle uncertainties and risks.

Observe and Execute: Royal Media Services’ Formula for Success

Royal Media Services leadership in broadcast media, from Citizen TV to a wide range of radio stations, is undisputed. Royal Media Services CEO Wachira Waruru narrated the story of the Group’s journey to the Amalgam Leadership Programme class. The key lesson is that in their focus on the mass market, they applied common sense observations (strategies) and executed them very well. Learning from successful local organisations is an important part of the Amalgam Programme: Wachira’s talk powerfully demonstrated the benefit of this approach.

Essentialism, Creativity, and Priorities, a precis of the June Amalgam Day

The June Amalgam session was held on Friday June 21st, and covered the leadership, marketing and technology areas of the curriculum.

Leadership of Self – What is Essential?

On the leadership side, the focus was on leading the self, and the participants learned the concept of “Essentialism” i.e. Identifying and focusing on what is essential to your goals and performance and being ruthless about cutting out the non-essential. This was followed up with a practical exercise where each participant mapped out where their time goes, and where it ideally should go. True to the Amalgam philosophy of implementing practical solutions; each participant drafted an action plan to work towards their ideal time allocation.

Exceptional Business Results powered by Creative Marketing

Creativity in marketing was the second area covered and the participants were taken through case studies and videos showcasing some of the most creative campaigns that delivered exceptional business results for their brands and companies. The case studies were both local and international in scope. A distillation of the key elements that made these campaigns so successful, and pointers on how to foster creativity in their marketing were provided and discussed animatedly.

Unpacking the Various IT Technology Roles

The role of the CEO in a hyperconnected world was the technology module for the day and was delivered by the CEO of CIO East Africa, Harry Hare. The participants were taken through the expectations of the CEO in this age, the role of a CIO as distinct from an IT manager, and how the CEO guides, and can analyze gaps, in the company’s holistic IT strategy. The day was punctuated by great pastries, vol-au-vents, and excellent coffee to accompany the great engagement and camaraderie in the room.

Valuing an Enterprise

Valuing an Enterprise

How do you value a business? When should you value a business? These questions provided the background for the last finance module delivered by the captivating RB Ndung’u at the July Amalgam Day.
And while he explained that there are many ways to value a business, ultimately its true worth is the amount of cash that an investor is willing to pay for it or a financier is willing to lend. The valuation of a business is at the end of the day subjective, which makes it more of an art than a science.
To balance the group’s perspectives, our lunch time guest speaker - Paul Kavuma of Catalyst Principals - spoke about what a Private Equity investor looks for in a business. The most important element is emotional, which he defines as finding investments where he can create good chemistry with the people involved. He described the business and funding institution relationship as a marriage that provides mutual benefits over the long term.

What Investors Look For

To balance the group’s perspectives, our lunch time guest speaker - Paul Kavuma of Catalyst Principals - spoke about what a Private Equity investor looks for in a business. The most important element is emotional, which he defines as finding investments where he can create good chemistry with the people involved. He described the business and funding institution relationship as a marriage that provides mutual benefits over the long term.

The CEO as Brand Manager

Marketing is too important to be left to the Marketing Department (often the most junior people in the organisation). That was the key message Chris Harrison of The Brand Inside got across to our July audience. Drawing on 37 years of continuous experience in brand building, Chris gave great examples of local CEOs who have driven their companies to exceptional profitability by setting the marketing context and inspiring the brand. He also provided a clear checklist for any business leader who wants to take control of brand direction.

Protecting Your Assets

Johnny Walker and Adam Lakhani of leading risk management company Salama Fikira gave our Class an illuminating presentation on the modern means available for screening potential business partners and key employee hires to mitigate risks to the enterprise. Participants were amazed at how much information is available on the Deep Web and Dark Web, and how mobile communication and social media are rich sources of critical information on individuals.

A Graduation, a tale of business tenacity, and a new Association

This past September, Amalgam Leadership’s pioneer cohort completed their one-year learning and growth programme that began in October 2018.

The Karen Country Club was the setting for the day which started off with an appreciation of the journey all the CEO’s and faculty had been on together. To further crystallize their key learnings and change commitments, they put together succinct presentations on how the Amalgam programme had impacted their business and personal lives, as well as advice to the incoming cohort.

The graduands then took the audience through the highlights of their path through the course, the learning, the self-discovery, and the changes it had brought about for them and their businesses.

In the audience were the incoming cohort of the 2019/2020 programme, the Board level sponsors of the CEO’s, and Amalgam Faculty members.

The inaugural graduation’s keynote speaker was Rose Kimotho MBS, a successful and seasoned businesswoman, an innovator in media, and a board member of several prominent corporations. Rose imparted the wisdom and lessons learnt in starting and selling businesses, being a pioneer innovator, resilience in the face of adversity, and bravery in striking out in new and unknown directions.

In recognition of their achievement, each participant was presented with a personalized Plaque plus a certificate of completion by the keynote speaker.

The Amalgam alumni association was then launched, in keeping with a key Amalgam objective of creating peer networks for mutual learning and support.

The occasion wrapped up with a sumptuous networking lunch accompanied by some fine wine….everyone deserved it!

The Amalgam 2019/2020 Leadership journey starts off in spectacular style

The picturesque Governor’s camp in the Maasai Mara was the setting for the foundational weekend for the 2019-2020 Amalgam cohort.

The first session of the programme is based on the Amalgam tenet that leadership starts from within, whereby faculty and participants reflected on their journeys – the moments that have mattered - to get to where they are now, and events that shaped their leadership styles. This was followed by sundowner drinks on the banks of the spectacular Mara River, where Harrison (Governor’s Camp Manager) in full Maasai regalia took the group through his personal leadership journey.

The next day’s session commenced with a life balance assessment session across 9 different life areas, followed by a session on setting up dashboards for both business and personal lives, led by the eloquent R.B Ndungu, where the cohort worked on setting goals and measurement yardsticks for the year to come.

Branding as a fundamental skill was delivered by Chris Harrison and got the participants reflecting on their company’s brands as well as their personal brands. To take in the scenic beauty and abundant wildlife in the Mara, there followed a really fun Game drive challenge with the very knowledgeable guides form Governors Camp driving teams to find specific wildlife; all were found except…a Tortoise!

The weekend wrapped up with a dawn Hot Air Balloon Ride (A Bucket list tick off for a number of us) followed by a Champagne breakfast in the wild surrounded by Zebra, Wildebeest and Topi. Those who stayed in camp got some excitement too, with Lions taking down a Buffalo merely 300 meters away.

Turning strategy into execution – insights from a seasoned leader

The Amalgam Leadership Programme Class of 2019-20 gathered at House of Waine in Karen for the first in a series of eleven monthly meetings. The class is twice the size of its predecessor and comprises men and women in leadership positions in East African enterprises. Sectors represented include retail, manufacturing, microfinance, luxury tourism, media and agriculture.

All participants have already attended a weekend launch session at Governors’ Camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara. That session focused on their life and business journeys so far, reflecting on the moments that have mattered and the challenges faced. Participants also set their expectations for Programme delivery by outlining their growth goals - for their businesses, for their careers and for their personal lives.

Amalgam uses these monthly, full-day gatherings to teach applicable learning for leaders: delivering CEO-authored and delivered content on Leadership, Marketing, Finance and Technology.

Highlights of the November Amalgam Day:

Financial literacy for CEOs

Even the four CFO’s on the Programme found that Richard Ndung’u produced new perspectives on the financial responsibilities of business leaders. Key amongst them - the requirement not to misrepresent the enterprises financial statements.

Then, in group work, participants collaborated on a case study using of ratios to interrogate the financial statements of a publicly quoted company.

Business in a digital world

Martin Kiarie treated us to two sessions in which he opened our minds to the enormous changes required to do business successfully in the digital world. A world where, by the end of 2020, 6.1billion of the 7 billion inhabitants will be connected to the Internet. Martin’s key message is that it’s not about the technology. It’s about using technology to improve customer experience. That way lies true differentiation.

Lunchtime speaker

Marion Gathoga - Mwangi, Managing Director BOC Kenya, honoured us with the ‘moments that have mattered’ in her long and successful career in company turnarounds. Describing how she has balanced family life with the demands of leading companies through turbulent times. Sharing her approach to turning strategy into execution, and building organisational cultures around delivering what was promised - On Time, Error Free and In Full.


The day concluded with individual mentoring sessions to advance each participant’s personal development agenda.

Leadership – it’s about the people

The Amalgam Leadership Programme Class of 2019-20 gathered at Muthaiga Country Club for the 4th in a series of monthly meetings of this one-year course. Amalgam’s curriculum designed these monthly, full-day sessions to teach applicable learning for leaders: delivering CEO-authored and delivered content on Leadership, Marketing, Finance and Technology.

Participants are finding their stride now that they are a third of the way through the content and are already able to see the impact the programme is having on their day-to-day work through the practical application of their learning across the range of business sectors. Sectors represented by participants include retail, manufacturing, microfinance, luxury tourism, media and agriculture.

Participants align their learning to their personal growth goals - for their businesses, for their careers and for their personal lives, which were set at the start of the programme.

Highlights of the Day:

Mission, vision and values – taking a fresh look at established practice

Chris Harrison challenged the group to evaluate their company’s vision, mission and values. When crafting the mission and vision becomes a ‘tick the box’ exercise designed by committee it loses its usefulness in galvanizing staff behind a common purpose. Chris shared with the group how it was important to translate values into applicable behaviours and that brand promise and personality might be a better way to express the company purpose.

Then, in group work, participants worked to review their company’s mission, vision and values and to consider whether there could be clearer ways to articulate the signature behaviours expected from employees.

The Internet of things

John Waibochi (CEO Virtual City) got the class thinking when he showed how data will become more valuable than gold. He demonstrated how AI and machine learning will impact on business as machines rather than humans start to interact with one another. However, John’s key message is that big data can inform efficiencies and insights into how to keep your company current.

Participants then had a chance to apply the learning in an exercise to see how information collected cheaply and efficiently at the lowest level of the company can transform the way business is done when aggregated.

Market Segmentation

Although it can seem counterintuitive to focus on a niche, Ndirangu Maina explained why market segmentation is crucial in marketing. He explained the need to go beyond the obvious segments of geography and demographics and to segment by behaviours and psychographics.

In the afternoon, participants had a chance to become Marketeers coming up with market segments for 3 commodities and identifying a brand to appeal to the market segment.

Guest CEO speaker

Richard Hechle - Group CEO of Internet Solutions - took us through the ‘moments that have mattered’ over 26 years of managing and leading businesses in East Africa. In a candid presentation Richard shared how he has learned as much from his mistakes as he has his successes. A move from the horticulture to IT led him to re-evaluate his leadership style and to ultimately conclude – people matter. He made an important distinction between managing and leading – the latter requiring the CEO to act as a buffer between staff and board. If you lead your people well, they will deliver the bottom line.

Roundtable Discussion

The day concluded with a roundtable discussion led by Amalgam Chairman Lenny Ng’ang’a. Participants had submitted in advance questions and issues they were grappling with, for which they sought insights from peers and faculty. The topics ranged from managing and motivating staff from different cultures, to the use of data and real-time dashboards to improve business efficiency.

Culture as a linchpin of organisational strategy

Culture as a linchpin of organisational strategy was the starting block for the Amalgam February session at the picturesque House of Waine in Karen. Chris Harrison took the cohort through the importance of culture in delivering an organisation’s goals and objectives, aligning people all through the company, and ingraining desired behaviours. Most importantly for the leaders in the class, the theme flowed into how to deliberately build a better corporate culture, how to lead and sustain a culture change programme successfully, and the obstacles to expect. The session wrapped up with each participant assessing their internal company culture, stating the positives and negatives, then looking at what they can do to change the negatives and enhance the positives.

Eran is the Group CEO and a founder member of the Direct Payments Online (DPO) Group. During his lunchtime session with the Amalgam team, Eran gave us the story of his frustrations in life from what he desired to do against what he was good at. Having trained as a pilot while serving in the military in his home country of Israel, a number of obstacles prevented him from advancing his flying career in the military. Coming to Kenya opened the doors to business and he founded an e-commerce company with a group of his friends. During the course of running a business in a foreign country, he learned to adjust to the way people respond to management, leading him to have to change his management style. This he says, resulted in a very dedicated workforce.

The day wound up with Mentor time, a unique feature of the Amalgam action-oriented learning style, where the participants are assigned a mentor from among the founders of the programme to coach them through a peer-assisted goal setting and progress check-in done every quarter.

Supply chain digitisation

In his previous session, John Waibochi introduced the participants to the various IoT devices available and ways that these can be used to collect essential operational data. For the Supply Chain module, he demonstrated the picture of success when the supply chain is digitised. He took the participants through an exercise to identify areas in their own supply chains where they could digitise and therefore obtain data in real time enabling for fast decision making.

Leadership priorities for business continuity in the wake of Covid-19

At Amalgam Leadership we’ve moved to video for our March meeting. First to demonstrate responsible social distancing, second to practice the new collaborative behaviours we all need to use, and third (and most important) to maintain the social cohesion of our programme. This morning we dedicated our session to the latest understanding of COVID-19 in a presentation delivered by Dr Yolande Coombes. We debated the leadership priorities for business continuity. And we checked what each of our participants has put into effect in their own businesses - to share best practices.

Industry 4.0

The world continues to applaud and thank essential workers during these Covid 19 days. One of the changes that this pandemic is manifesting clearly is that the nature of work is bound to change post Covid19. The HR department being the one responsible for selecting the workers an organisation requires, may be a facilitator or an inhibitor in getting the kind of worker that the requesting department is in need of. It is for this reason that Chris Harrison opines that 'Recruitment is too important to be left to the HR Department', which is one of the modules in the Leadership Curriculum of the Amalgam Leadership Programme. This session was held virtually for the Amalgam Class of 2019.

With the focus now shifting to the leadership and management to provide direction on the status of the organisation, at Amalgam the business leaders continue to receive practical tools of how they can navigate these coronavirus pandemic days. Last Friday, Timothy Oriedo made a Big Data presentation to the Class of 2019, where he demonstrated the fact that we are in the era of Industry 4.0, and data is the resource for this phase of the revolution. Data held by an organisation can be used to help make business decisions, discovery, as well as add to the business dividends. In what stage of the Information Supply Chain would you say your organisation is at - Acquisition, Administration or Application?

Dealing with frustration and anger

The Amalgam Leadership Programme training continues to be held online. As the pandemic rages on, it is given that we are all going to deal with frustration and anger in our day-to-day interactions. But how we manage this frustration and anger is what will determine how we convert a seemingly bad day to one that enables us to carry on with the affairs of the day by conclusively dealing with the issue at hand. The leadership of self by having self-mastery is a prerequisite to the leadership of others and of the organisation. There is a lot of frustration & anger to be expected with the coronavirus pandemic. The Amalgam participants benefitted from the very timely advice and guidance from Dr. Yolande Coombes on how to deal with anger and frustration in all aspects of their lives.

Delivering relevant and up-to-date content on Leadership, Marketing, Finance and Technology

Continuing the virtual meetings instituted since lockdown, the Amalgam Leadership Programme Class of 2019-20 met on July 3rd 2020. Amalgam uses these sessions to teach applicable learning for leaders: delivering relevant and up-to-date content on Leadership, Marketing, Finance and Technology.

Now more than ever, it is essential that the curriculum remains relevant for the changing business environment we find ourselves in during the Covid19 pandemic. Thus, the last session focussed on two critical – yet related – topics, which have come into the fore, during this time when business is not as usual. The first was on Business Controls from the Finance Curriculum and the second on Cybersecurity from the Technology curriculum.

Although participants come from diverse sectors - including luxury tourism, agriculture, media, manufacturing and microfinance - they were all able to capture key action steps from the presentations and discussion to execute in the coming weeks. Taking immediate action is a practice Amalgam encourages so that participants obtain maximum gain from their learning.

Highlights of the Day:

July 3rd, 2020

Business Controls

Richard (RB) Ndungu explained to the group that usually 10% of your staff will never steal and 10% will always steal and the remaining 80% might or might not depending on the fraud triangle – the opportunity they have, the pressure they are under and the rationalisation they make. To remove the opportunity, businesses need to tighten up controls and RB identified the key controls to put in place. Linking to the leadership curriculum RB reiterated the importance of business culture and that business controls and fraud prevention start during the recruitment process. Above all, RB reminded participants to “keep their fingers on the pulse and their ear to the ground” in the workplace and to become an ‘irresistible’ organisation by keeping things simple, building trust and providing a positive environment which stops people rationalising theft.

Then, in group work, participants reviewed the fraud triangle to see where they felt their business was before identifying key controls that they need to bring in, to mitigate against fraud such as document controls, standard operating procedures and a clear code of business ethics.


William Makatiani from Serianu Limited, got the class thinking when he explained that cyber-attacks are a daily occurrence, and companies in Kenya are being targeted from around the globe. The cost of cybercrime in Kenya is already in excess of USD$200 million and there are both direct and indirect costs. William went through a range the anatomy of a typical cybercrime – explaining the vectors and what to look out for. For example – conversations that used to be private are now happening openly on social media, and social media has become weaponised. William emphasised that businesses have to change their patterns of behaviour if they don’t want to fall victim as well as their business culture. Cyber security starts with the board and filters down through audit and the executive. It should not just be left to the IT department.

July 17th, 2020

Today's Amalgam Leadership Programme session was once again held on video conferencing in respect for our Government's rules on social distancing. With time we are becoming much more proficient in this environment, running breakout and plenary sessions with ease. Watching live and video presentations, taking part in exercises and hosting guest speakers. Participants and speakers keep to time and everyone observes the new social niceties of online engagement.

Today's session featured a vigorous interactive session on The Role for Leaders in inspiring Customer Experience. Facilitated by Carolyne Gathuru and Linet Njeri, who ably demonstrated their mastery of this important subject. Key takeouts included advice to prioritise internal customers over external ones. On the face of it, this might appear counter-intuitive for most businesspeople. But without employees you can't deliver any experience and if your employees are happy they are more likely to want to delight the customer.

Carolyne challenged our leaders to decide what Customer Experience legacy they would like to leave, and set them homework to carry out in their own businesses. Quentin Savage, Chief Commercial Officer of Cheli & Peacock Safaris was delighted to 'win' a Customer Experience Audit and Coaching Session for his Customer Service team from Carolyne's company: Life-Skills Consulting.

Our distinguished guest speaker, Mr Ignatius Obara began his life journey in Kibera alongside 19 siblings. With the benefit of education and a hunger for new experiences, he has risen to be Chief Financial Officer of one of Africa's most successful microfinance groups - Platcorp. Ignatius generously shared the moments that have mattered along the way and was keen to highlight the learnings from mistakes made.

Serendipitously his address endorsed Carolyne's insistence on putting internal customers first. But he was also clear that an important aspect of the Customer Experience delivered by the companies in his Group was a fundamental respect for the dignity of the customer.

July 31st - Amalgam's Online Finance Training

This past Friday, the Amalgam Class of 2019/2020 had the final session of the Finance Curriculum - Tax module. Richard Ndung'u, who is the Faculty for this curriculum and a Tax expert, impressed upon the participants the fact that non-compliance with taxes is 2nd only to Covid-19 as the biggest threat to business continuity and personal wealth, and that companies need to invest more in both internal and external tax expertise. While the Government of Kenya has implemented numerous tax measures following the coronavirus pandemic, leaders should always remember that tax compliance is a brand reputation issue, whose management squarely belongs in the boardroom.

The CEO's role as Brand Manager

Chris Harrison, Partner at Amalgam Leadership Group has over 25 years’ experience in marketing and building brands in Africa. While presenting the CEO as Brand Manager session to the current Amalgam Class, he challenged the Business Leaders to get involved in Marketing and not to leave it to young people, and thereby inspire a brand-led culture for the entire organisation. He suggested that this can be achieved by understanding the market context their brands operate in, as well as inspiring the brand that represents the collective effort of the organisation...

Leading Millennials

The Amalgam Leadership Programme Class of 2019-20 continues to meet virtually. The sessions are used to teach applicable learning for leaders: delivering relevant and up-to-date content on Leadership, Marketing, Finance and Technology.

The session on August 14th had content from the Leadership and Marketing sections of the curriculum. The topic from the leadership curriculum was on leading different groups and in particular millennials and how to maximise their engagement. The second topic from marketing was on how to measure the return on investment in marketing.

Although participants come from diverse sectors - including luxury tourism, agriculture, media, manufacturing and microfinance - they were all able to capture key action steps from the presentations and discussion to execute in the coming weeks. Taking immediate action is a practice Amalgam encourages so that participants obtain maximum gain from their learning.

Highlights of the Day:

Using recent data from research in Kenya, Ndirangu Maina (Amalgam founding partner) was able to give specific advice to participants about what millennials compared to other employees (e.g. Gen X) desire from an employer. How they think, how they work and how they want to interact with an employer. Millennials don’t want a job for life but making an impact is important to them. Exploring the differences allows employers to be competitive in attracting the right people. Given that for most companies, staff are their most important asset, understanding how to attract, retain and enhance their skills is critical to staying current and leading the field. During the coronavirus pandemic, with more employees working from home, it is especially important to understand what you need to do to keep them focused, engaged and supported.

In group work, participants were tasked in assessing what criteria would most attract millennials to work for them and to assess whether they were providing them and what they needed to change. There were a few surprises when the results were revealed – Kenyan millennials are not necessarily the same as millennials in Europe or North America and thus knowing your specific environment is important.

ROI on Marketing

Lenny Nganga (Chair of Amalgam) dived deep into how you measure the return on investment a company puts into marketing. There are a number of ways to measure the investment. Lenny explained that measuring the relationship between marketing and changes in sales is relatively straight forward. However, when you want to measure the relationship between marketing and building a brand then it becomes more complex. Using both local Kenyan and international examples Lenny got the class thinking about how successful marketing can really drive a business forward. Coronavirus is not a time to cut back on marketing, it’s about being more strategic and positioning your brand to take advantage of the changes that are happening. Being proactive and not reactive.

August 28th, 2020

Amalgam’s Class of 2020 continued in webinar format with a stimulating session from Chairman Lenny Ng’ang’a about Managing Reputational Risk in today’s hyper-connected environment.

Drawing on cases from around the world (the Boeing 737 Max crashes, the Chipotle food poisoning scandal) and closer to home (Suraya Property Group ) the group worked through strategies to manage risk and, more importantly, to anticipate nightmare scenarios. The importance of transparency, empathy and responsiveness were highlighted. Impact on personal and corporate brands debated. As Warren Buffet once said, ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to destroy it’.

Reputational risk in the work environment, product and service failure and corporate citizenship were recognised as most relevant to our East African leaders. But the Class also believe that the most likely channel for damaging content could be their own employees - either in their dealings with one another, with customers or the wider public in unregulated engagement on social media

Guest speaker for the day was Edward Kirathe, CEO of Acorn Holdings, one of the region’s most progressive property development companies and owner of the Qwetu student residence brand. In October 2019, Acorn issued the first Green Housing Bond in Africa which, in January 2020 became the first Kenya Shilling Bond to list on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

As with all our CEO guest speakers, Edward was briefed to talk about the ‘moments that have really mattered’ in his life and career. He did a superb job: class was given a very frank expose of the ups and downs of his business life and what lessons he had been able to draw from the experience.

In common with most successful leaders, he acknowledged that the most fundamental learnings come from failure and recovery. Our favourite quote from his session was about determination: ‘You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option.’

Leadership role in articulating business ethics

Business ethics, the guidelines which are based on moral principles on how businesses and employees should conduct themselves, are broad and diverse.

At the final online training in leadership for the Amalgam Class of 2019, Angela Gichaga stressed the importance of an ethical business as being good business for companies, employees, regulators and society, and that there are numbers to back this up. She reminded the leaders that the buck stops with them. A leader is charged with and responsible for ensuring business ethics are articulated and communicated throughout the organization, and that they role-model the desired business ethics as well as enforcing the business ethics and publicly applaud adherence.

Work-life balance

After seven months of online meetings, Faculty and participants were delighted to be able to hold a socially distanced live meeting at Nairobi’s Tamarind Tree Hotel.

At the close of our leadership curriculum, Dr. Yolande Coombes asked participants to reflect on the Life Balance Wheel they created at the very beginning of the Programme. Participants noted progress in a number of interesting areas, that have rebalanced their lives:

• Developing better relationships with spouses and children
• Making provision for me-time, and dispelling the guilt that used to be associated with it
• Addressing money matters at home by discussing them more openly
• Working to reduce leave days owed, by taking more holidays!
• Reconnection with elderly parents and schoolfriends back home – ‘no longer a stranger in the village’
• Developing a fruit farm as a social activity and a side business
• Going to work early and leaving early
• Getting to know direct reports as people, rather than assets

The most powerful learning from this session was that better work-life balance actually makes you more productive at work.

Guest speaker

Our guest speaker Salma Mazrui- Watt has enjoyed a long and successful career as a business leader and progressed to Board membership of major national and international organisations. As is our custom, we asked her to address the Class on the moments that have really mattered in her life and work. Highlights included the importance of people-oriented rather than task-oriented leadership; the importance of negotiating to increase your professional value and making the shift from sycophancy to loyalty by being frank with superiors.

Amalgam Leadership’s 2nd cohort graduates!

Friday November the 13th was a remarkable and lucky day for the 2019/2020 class of the Amalgam Leadership Programme, for this was the culmination of their yearlong study and evolution into high impact leaders in both the work and personal spheres of their lives. The event was graced by the Alumni of the 1st cohort, Top management of the companies where the participants work, leaders interested in the Programme, Amalgam faculty, and the main speaker Dr Bitange Ndemo.

The programme commenced with each graduand presenting to their fellows their journey through the Programme, their key learnings, and the transformations they underwent as a result of what they learnt. The presentations were moving, powerful testimonials of each unique experience, capped by a universal commitment to keep getting better and better.

Dr Bitange Ndemo then took centerstage with an eloquent and vivid narrative of the profound transformation the world and Kenya will be undergoing and the key role that leadership plays in driving an entire country, a company, or a family forward into success. He regaled the audience with stories about how the technologies that we are so dependent upon like M-Pesa and the undersea Fiber optic cables almost never were, but for the leadership of the then President Mwai Kibaki. He also lauded the Amalgam Programme and said 'This programme is exactly what Kenya needs. We shouldn't be going to Harvard to develop our leaders, we should mobilize local resources'

Each graduand then received their unique plaque, and certificate after which they were formally inducted into the Amalgam Alumni, a 2nd step to fulfilling one of Amalgam’s key objectives: Creating a network of trust and support amongst leaders of high-performance organizations.

A sumptuous lunch laid on by the House of Waine concluded the day’s programme in style.

Amalgam Leadership - 3 years in

The third annual Class of the Amalgam Leadership Programme began its journey of discovery recently in Kenya’s beautiful Masai Mara.

The Class of 2021 comprises new Managing Directors and leaders-in-waiting drawn from businesses across East Africa. Representing key growth sectors Fintech, Logistics, Microfinance, Media, Utilities, Agriculture, Manufacturing and Renewables in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Amalgam Leadership participants began their transformation with a weekend of reflection and goal setting at Little Governors’ Camp. Sharing their life journeys and being brutally honest about the moments - good and bad - that have defined their life and work to date.

Amalgam Partner Lenny Ng’ang’a comments: ‘This launch weekend differs from almost every other leadership development programme. While we acknowledge past success as the foundation for future growth, we also encourage participants to open up on their tribulations and harsh lessons learnt and demonstrate vulnerability. This builds trust very rapidly and ensures that each cohort bonds quickly.’

Amalgam Partners and Faculty Members introduced the group to the four Amalgam curriculum areas of - Leadership, Technology, Marketing and Finance. The Amalgam Mentoring process was explained, stressing the importance of applying learning from the programme participants’ businesses and reporting back on impact and insights. A game drive challenge and a private bush dinner gave participants the chance to relax and reconnect.

Amalgam’s Chairman Chris Harrison sums it up: ‘Within 48 hours our Class of 2021 is united by shared insight, and new life and work goals are set. Experienced Faculty members zero in on individual development needs and relevant adjustments are made to the curriculum. To Amalgam corporate sponsors, we say ‘Asante sana’ for their third year of support. To Amalgam participants, we say ‘hold on tight and enjoy the ride. Each one of you will emerge a very different person and a much more capable leader.’

Start of deep dive into the Amalgam Curriculum

Following the launch of the Class of 2021, the monthly leadership training sessions started at the beautiful and serene House of Waine. The focus of the Finance Curriculum now is in providing the participants the financial literacy skills they require to enable them to interrogate their organisation’s financial statements - a very crucial skill of senior leadership.

The next session was training in Cybersecurity, and Joseph Mathenge from Serianu Limited made a splendid presentation. Senior executives have the added responsibility to report to the Board measures they are taking to mitigate against cybersecurity. Once the leadership is aware of who is attacking, why, and how they are attacking, they are then able to secure the organisation. As of 2019, the cost of cybersecurity in Africa was a staggering $5.6B. How resilient is your organisation against cyber-attacks?

Yolande Coombes took the participants through a presentation on how to cultivate emotional intelligence (EQ) in leadership, one of the very important tenets of a leader. In deciding who to engage - the rational or emotional brain - it is important to understand how each of the two brains function, and ways to harness their benefits and limit their challenges.

Are you using your EQ?

Harnessing emotional intelligence (EQ) is an ongoing theme throughout the Amalgam Leadership Course. Leaders with high EQ outperform those who rely on IQ or working harder. Developing your EQ allows you to work smarter - inspiring staff to get the best performance out of your team. Leaders who use EQ tend to understand their customers and their competitors better. In the online Amalgam session on March 5th, there were two topics to help participants to build their EQ.

The first session by Ndirangu wa Maina, from our Marketing curriculum, focused on consumer insights, or as Ndirangu likes to call them, ‘mining human truths’. If you can unpack and understand consumer behaviour, you can gain insights that drive business performance. Although consumers seem to behave in rational ways, if you also know the emotional drivers of behaviour, you can harness this for increased sales, brand loyalty, and to outperform your competition.

Participants were shown how to dig deeper into data to find the ‘whys’. They were given a task to explore data on loans and borrowing. Why have online loans been so successful and taken consumers away from Banks or borrowing from friends and family? Our group discussion uncovered that people don’t want to disclose why they need loans. Amalgam participants also correctly identified that most people would rather pay considerably more for the ease and convenience of getting an immediate loan without the ‘hassle’ and potential embarrassment of explanation.

The second presentation by Yolande Coombes provided participants with pointers on how to lead remote teams. Managing a remote team ensures they have the tools and guidance to get work done at home. Leading a remote team is about using your EQ and insights to help keep remote workers fully engaged, motivated and continuing to collaborate on projects.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to more people working remotely, but this has actually been a growing trend over the past decade. The behavioural insight is that the employees want more flexibility to integrate the different aspects of their lives. Understanding this and supporting staff to maximise work from home can lead to high performing, happier and more motivated staff. Leaders should no longer be measuring performance by how many hours someone is in the office or online; performance is about reaching the carefully crafted objectives that leaders have collaboratively set with their teams.

Amalgam's class of 2021 enjoys a 'virtual but vigorous' April session.

In April, Amalgam hosted a high energy webinar session, respecting the COVID constraints facing all three East African countries and making travel impossible for our regional members.

The session opened with yet another mind-expanding presentation from Big Data expert Tim Oriedo. Starting with threats to traditional job roles from automation, Tim moved effortlessly on to how the digital revolution (accelerated by COVID) is transforming established human behaviours and changing the world of retail. Practical exercises on business cases as diverse as Coca-Cola and Western Union followed.

Mid-morning, we were treated to a humbling expose of the highs and lows of creating a successful pan-African Fintech enterprise. Husband and wife team Ken and Kui Njoroge of Cellulant uses the theme 'It takes a village: the story of Cellulant' to deliver powerful insights on the pain and gain of entrepreneurship.

The session ended with our Victory Wall, capturing change initiatives that participants have started in their own workplaces and personal lives as a result of exposure to new ideas at Amalgam. Making sure we continue to build a strong case for the value of applicable learning over academic programmes.

Diversity – what’s the point?

Diversity is ofttimes viewed simply as being able to achieve gender balance. However, as Dr. Angela Gichaga, demonstrated in this month's Amalgam day, there is much more to diversity than gender balance. Diversity in the workplace means that a company’s workforce includes people of varying gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, religion, languages, education, abilities, and more. And Lenny Nganga while presenting the session on Recruitment being too important to be left to the HR department, illustrated that if companies hired for attitude, culture and then skills as best fit, it would be possible to achieve diversity at the workplace. And the data is clear and loud on the benefits to the company for diversity and inclusion.

Amalgam is privileged to have industry leaders and experts join us at the monthly Amalgam Day to talk to the leadership class about their journey of leadership, and the moments that have mattered - good and bad - along the way. Our recent guest was Nkirote Njiru, the Group Company Secretary of UAP-Old Mutual. Nkirote's passion is in governance and has set up sound governance systems both in the private and public sector. She encouraged the Class of 2021 to adopt leadership styles that promote transparency in an organisation, as this is key in governance - leadership that has a soul.

And to encourage more women to join senior leadership positions, it is important that those with influence open the doors for them, by coaching, mentoring and sponsoring them in their leadership journey.

Managing Anger and Frustration

Managing Anger and Frustration was the keynote learning session for the July Amalgam Day, as leaders are constantly managing and interacting with situations that could manifest these two reactions.

The session was led by the accomplished Salma Mazrui Watt the CEO of Kibeni Ltd and a certified coach. The cohort learned to identify the types of anger, the effects of anger on themselves, those whom they lead and the organisation at large. At Amalgam we approach leadership holistically looking at leading the self, leading others, and leading the organisation, and as such the starting point was the internal reflection on what triggers anger in each of the leaders in the group.

A surprising revelation was on the positive effects of anger - if the anger is well harnessed, and purposed, and the participants learned how to accomplish this.

The session also walked them through steps and tactics to deal with anger, alleviate the negative symptoms, and to calm down. As an accomplished “Birder” Salma drew parallels with the fascinating world of birds to our own realities, worldview, and modes of communicating that can result in anger and frustration.

At the close of the session, true to the Amalgam intent of applicable learning, all of our cohort drew up personal action plans to better recognize, cope with, and positively harness anger.

The Amalgam Leadership Programme went into the field for the first time since the Covid pandemic struck with a visit to the Associate Battery Manufacturers (ABM) plant on Kampala Road Nairobi.

The field visit aspect of the Amalgam curriculum aims to solve real world challenges any member of the cohort is facing and getting peer input from diverse industries and perspectives; an exercise that has resulted in valuable business enhancing solutions in past years.

The module started off with a briefing on the business challenges then the cohort was shown around the plant by an Amalgam alumnus Stanley Nganga and marvelled at the first robotic assembly line of its kind in East and Central Africa as well as going through the production process. The cohort then brainstormed on the business challenges and came up with some innovative solutions that we are all very keen to see implemented and measured. We will report on these in the next cohort.

Amalgam’s blended learning

Amalgam’s Class of 2021 met in Nairobi on Friday 20th August for a blended learning session, combining Zoom for participants unable to travel with a high energy live session.

Host for the day, Chris Harrison, warmed up the Class with the latest information on the China-Africa relationship, and posed the question ‘How do you see the future of China’s involvement in Africa?’ Healthy debate ensued, not least about Zambia’s recent Presidential Election result being influenced by public perceptions of indebtedness to China.

In a session entitled ‘Leading a multi-generational workforce’ Ndirangu wa Maina showcased results from Consumer Insight Africa’s latest study on attitudes to work within the Kenyan workforce. He illustrated many key differences from global trends. He went on to show the differences and similarities between the four generations we find in any modern workforce. Drawing implications on how to motivate and manage, he reminded us that, ‘every generation says the same thing about the generation that follows it - and it’s mainly negative.’

In two mind-expanding sessions, John Waibochi first exposed the Class to the power and scope of ‘The Internet of Things’. From Government systems integration in Kenya, based on the Estonian model, to developments in drone technology, to the explosion in side-hustles becoming real businesses through e-commerce. Then he shared the principles of a successful business transformation based on the Internet of Things. Illustrated with examples of real companies in the region who have transformed their supply chain management. His starting point - take your ‘Excel sheet from Hell’ and use IoT to replace it with something much more useful. His key insight: ‘using IoT we get rid of the storytellers in your organisation and replace them with live data you can action.’

Chris Harrison returned to deliver ‘Brand Is your responsibility, too’. Explaining where the discipline of Marketing came from and recommending where the business leader needs to have an active involvement in the process. In particular he stressed the importance of owning the Brand Promise (what we offer) and Brand Personality (how we offer it). In a thought-provoking exercise, participants were asked to consider the 3 Brand Personality attributes they wanted their business to have.

Dr. Yolande Coombes concluded the day’s tuition with an interactive discussion about ‘Essentialism and breaking habits.’ This is part of the Amalgam curriculum that talks to Leadership of the Self - inviting the Class to consider adjusting their personal behaviours. Bad habits in business include trying to do too much at the same time, being reactive instead of proactive, and delaying in creating new systems and processes.

Yolande encouraged the Class to avoid drowning in habitual work by embracing the principles of Essentialism.

The Class then moved to a review of how learnings from Amalgam have helped them to create change in their businesses, careers and personal lives. In a recurring session, called ‘Victory Wall’, participants shared how they have applied Amalgam learning to good effect. These were many and varied, and included:

Business and career

  • Improving cybersecurity measures
  • Taking a more mature approach to leadership
  • Creating dashboards for performance and project management
  • Adapting staff appraisal process to encourage growth in EQ
  • Data mining, which identified 60,000 lost customers to re-engage
  • Managing staff engagement during COVID-19, improving business sustainability
  • Using empathy to improve collaboration at Excom level
  • Trying to be a good listener
  • Redesigning customer experience to reduce customer inconvenience
  • Developing a more collaborative leadership style
  • Improving recruitment by adding cultural fit to skills for job
  • Training direct reports to enable effective delegation
  • Securing 4000 COVID vaccines for company employees, free of charge

Personal life

  • Leaving the office earlier
  • Taking out education insurance for children
  • Drafting a will
  • Retirement planning
  • Losing weight
  • Hugging my family
  • Holding a daily family meeting before kids’ bedtime
  • Taking accrued leave
  • Training to climb Mt Kilimanjaro

Amalgam is an applicable learning programme, transferring usable knowledge and skills to emerging business leaders in East Africa.

Penultimate Session

The Amalgam Class of 2021 is drawing to a close and met for the penultimate session on Friday 15th October before graduation in November. A few participants who were unable to travel to Kenya were able to connect online, as the programme continues in a blended fashion.

The day began with an opportunity to reflect on their own performance. Host-for-the-day Yolande Coombes asked the class to assess the team dynamics following the successful creativity weekend hosted by the Amalgam Programme in September. Participants shared the transferable learning and insights they had gleaned on how to maximise team performance. Practicing what you learn - directly and indirectly - is one of the critical tenets that underpins the Amalgam approach to learning.

The final session in the Finance Curriculum was delivered by RB Ndung’u, focusing on Financial Fraud and Business Controls. Participants finally appreciated how the range of finance skills they have learned on the course equip them to establish and reinforce the necessary business controls to mitigate fraud. They discovered that 10% of staff will never steal and 10% will always steal, and 80% might steal given the right circumstances. They learned that the important thing is to reduce the opportunity, ability and motivation to steal through appropriate controls and - perhaps more importantly - engendering a company culture that supports this.

This theme continued when Angela Gichaga got the class to dig deep into the issues surrounding Business Ethics. She encouraged participants to look at real problems and challenged them to consider ethics in terms of equity, not just in terms of integrity. Angela demonstrated that companies who behave more ethically – focusing on long term gains - can retain and grow their customers. Unethical practices (even when legal) may lead to quick wins, but they don’t foster loyalty from staff or customers. Business ethics underpin culture.

The guest speaker was Karanja Njoroge, General Manager of Chloride Exide and Amalgam Alumnus. Karanja shared his experiences of working in different countries and different sectors and highlighted his career moments that have mattered in his leadership journey. Interestingly, Karanja shared that his initial motivation to come to Amalgam had been to learn more about business controls, but he was then provided with opportunities to learn so much more. Karanja shared that it is essential to know what you excel at, which can be found by trying different things early in your career. Once you know your strengths, leverage them, and success will follow. Karanja was keen for the class to nurture the next generation of the workforce, as he does, and for which he gains a great deal of satisfaction.

Following a delicious 3-course lunch served by House of Waine in their beautiful garden, the afternoon was spent preparing for graduation. Participants were given ideas on how to strengthen their presentation skills. Yolande reminded them that leaders who excel have strong communication skills. There followed a session with mentors to enable participants to reflect on their individual Amalgam journey; it was rewarding to see the breadth of insights and knowledge they have gained in less than a year. More impressive was hearing the impact trying out their learning, has had on their businesses. Participants reported results from the programme ranging from increased productivity (despite the pandemic) to feeling happier and more in control of their personal and professional lives.

The third Amalgam Leadership cohort graduates

The World Economic Forum has stressed that cultivating leaders with exceptional character and skills is a necessary foundation for Africa’s future growth. Friday 19th November saw a contribution of new African leaders to the growing pool, as the latest cohort of the Amalgam Leadership Programme graduated.

Each graduand shared their unique Amalgam leadership journey; what they had learned, what they had applied and the consequent impact and change. There were stories of personal and professional growth and measurable impact on each and every business represented in the cohort.

The graduation’s keynote speaker - John Musunga, Managing Director of Kenya Breweries Ltd, shared the moments that have mattered in his leadership journey. He encouraged the class to continue to ‘fail forward’ and build diverse and strong teams where talent can shine, and leave a legacy of well built systems that outlast them as leaders.

The graduation audience was composed of alumni and faculty of Amalgam Leadership alongside the participant’s business sponsors who were visibly proud of their staff‘s growth over the year. The word is out that Amalgam produces authentic African Leaders who play to their unique strengths. So, we are pleased to say we are oversubscribed for 2022.

Karibu to the Amalgam Leadership 2022 Cohort

The 2022 Amalgam Leadership Programme started with a weekend retreat to the Fairmont Safari Club in the Masai Mara. A beautiful setting by the Mara River ensured participants could physically and metaphorically leave the office behind. In our 4th year, this is Amalgam’s largest cohort to date at 19 participants. We left Wilson Airport as strangers but returned three days later as firm friends. It was fantastic to see a class of future African business leaders with an equal gender split and participation from so many business sectors, including manufacturing, logistics, IT, microfinance and agriculture. We were particularly pleased to offer a warm Kenyan welcome to colleagues from Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania.

Moments that matter

The weekend started with reflection. Participants were asked to review their lives and select some of the critical moments – good and bad – that have shaped their lives. Faculty kicked off the process, sharing the lows and highs of their careers and personal lives and reflecting on their lessons. Their candidness paved the way for the participants to overcome initial fears and share their life and work journeys to date. They learned that while we have all had challenges, luck, failure and success, it is how you deal with each that shapes your leadership journey.

Emotional Intelligence

Practising self-reflection and analysing beliefs and behaviours are key facets of emotional intelligence (EQ). Yolande Coombes introduced participants to how EQ can enhance your leadership abilities and how, in particular, using empathy sets you apart from other leaders. Participants were asked to assess their EQ and leadership and think of actions they might take to address any shortcomings.

“What got you here won’t get you there.”

One of the Amalgam Programme’s fundamental tenets is that many people find themselves in a leadership programme following a meteoric rise in one technical discipline. Unfortunately, these honed technical skills in finance, marketing or administration are unlikely to be those that will help you excel as a leader. Chris Harrison led a session on ‘your leadership style’, helping participants assess whether they are managers or leaders and what new skills and behaviours they need to take on to evolve their leadership style.

Life Assessment

At Amalgam, we believe you can’t lead a company until you know how to lead others, and you can’t lead others until you can lead yourself. A video from the 2021 class shared advice to the incoming class: encouraging them to use Amalgam to polish all aspects of their lives and to realise that they are always on stage as leaders. This life assessment encourages participants to take stock of their lives in all areas ranging from career, finance, love life and fun to spirituality. From there, participants were able to set goals to work on throughout the rest of the year.


Linked to the life assessment was a presentation and activities led by RB Ndung’u on setting up personal and business dashboards. They reviewed the purpose of dashboards and how they can be simplistic in form but influential in their information to support decision-making. Dashboards help predict trends and help us pick out the key metrics that drive performance. Dashboards can also tell a story. Dashboards help us focus, and what we focus on expands. What you focus measurement on, gets managed and done.

Learning by doing

The participants had an opportunity to practice some of their new leadership skills during a team game based on a safari game drive. It was lots of fun, and the consequences of being disqualified because of time penalties, not reading – and sharing – the instructions, taking too much time to develop a strategy and forgetting to listen and include everyone’s ideas provided lessons for transferable learning. The winning team was rewarded with a prize, but everyone gained an understanding of how they approached the task.

The special bond created in the opening weekend is just one of the many things that set the Amalgam Leadership programme apart from others. When we meet again in February, the new class will have already put into practice many of the aims and skills they gained from the opening session.

Seek out a mentor, take calculated risks

The second session of the 2022 Amalgam Leadership Programme took place on the 18th and 19th of February. Participants gathered at the Hermosa Garden Hotel in Karen and received content from three of the curriculum areas: Finance, Leadership, and Technology over the two days. In addition, they met with their mentors to refine their personal and professional goals for the year and to reflect on their learning objectives.

The participants also had an engaging presentation from Jason Reynard, Regional CEO for Bolloré Transport & Logistics in East Africa. With 30 years of experience, Jason shared some of his key leadership lessons. He encouraged participants to seek out a mentor, take calculated risks, and not be afraid to leave if they are not in a position that affords them growth. Jason was keen to point out the importance of family and friends and that a rounded leader does not ignore these crucial aspects of their life.

Finance Curriculum

The finance modules focussed on being able to read, interpret and infer financial statements and cash flow statements as part of ‘C-suite financial literacy’ led by RB Ndung’u. A balance sheet must always balance – but how that is done and uncovering the real story is the art of reading financial statements. RB introduced the class to the use of ratios to interrogate financial statements. RB Ndung’u explained that cashflow statements provide insights on company performance, e.g. you can assess whether a company can pay off debt or use short-term financing efficiently. Conversely, statements show whether a company will have difficulties meeting short term obligations. Using a set of real accounts, the participants could apply their new knowledge. Over the coming weeks, they will analyse data from their own companies to improve their financial decision-making.

Leadership Curriculum

Three separate modules from the leadership curriculum were covered.

Yolande Coombes presented a session on negotiation and focused on how to use core emotional intelligence skills such as empathy, active listening, and mirroring to negotiate. Understanding your innate negotiation style and how to use it more effectively with other types of negotiators gave participants some action points to reflect on. Learning how to say ‘no’ and remove conflict from negotiation are other vital skills they were encouraged to practice. Finally, participants were asked to practice bargaining and setting the price they wanted.

Angela Gichaga took participants through the importance of striving for more than just ‘profit’. The idea behind the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) is about having a purpose that is more than just growth/expansion for profitability. Triple bottom line is essential for attracting younger staff to your company who want a purpose or mission that inspires them and customers who may be willing to spend more for better ethics. It is also crucial for improved environmental sustainability. It is more than corporate social responsibility, and companies which embrace these ideas are often more profitable.

Chris Harrison introduced an alternative to Mission, Vision and Values by getting the participants to reflect on their brand. Just like a product brand, a company brand can communicate its purpose, promise and personality in a much more compelling way. If the company brand is more intuitive to understand, the behaviours required from employees can be more easily aligned. Participants were asked to review their mission, vision, and values and reflect on whether these provided sufficient direction for their employees and customers.

Technology Curriculum

Tim Oriedo took the participants through two sessions on Big Data. The first session introduced them to big data, while the second focused on how big data might be used in their business. Tim focused on the role of data in decision making, in discovery and how to use data to improve the company. He provided an overview of information supply chains and from data capture to the application of data such as predictive analytics. Participants spent time analysing how they might make better use of the data they collect to improve efficiencies or predict business changes.

John Waibochi took the class through a stimulating presentation on the Internet of Things demonstrating how the world is hyperconnected and how many things we believe to be science fiction are already science facts. The internet economy can contribute $180 billion to Africa’s economy by 2025. John explained the role of artificial intelligence, drones and connected data infrastructure and how this is likely to impact business and personal lives in the immediate future. Participants were encouraged to reflect on applying lessons from the Internet of Things to improve their business offering.

Brand is a leader’s responsibility, too

In March, our Class of 2022 enjoyed two online sessions as part of Amalgam’s blended delivery to participants in 4 countries across our region. The focus was on Marketing and the content was created and delivered by Chris Harrison, one of Amalgam’s founding partners.

Chris has amassed 40 years’ experience in building brands, over 30 of them on the continent of Africa. There are few people better placed to deliver a concise and jargon-free exposition of the skills needed to build brands.

Chris began with his signature session ‘Branding without the Bull’ which explains in practical terms the origins of branding in livestock trading and the logo’s shift from being a mark of ownership to a mark of value. He moved on to explain to our emerging leaders how brands are important for customers, employees and shareholders, defining the value add for each audience.

In showcasing how strong brands are built Chris endorsed Simon Sinek’s view that ‘Why’ is more important than ‘What’. Strong brands are not built to sell to everyone, but to a target audience that shares the brand’s beliefs and values.

After the break, in a session entitled ‘ Branding is your responsibility too’ Chris suggested that Marketing is too important to be left to the Marketing Department. He outlined two areas where the business leader’s input is necessary. Firstly in having an opinion on target audience, competitive set and the role for Marketing within the business plan. And secondly, to inspire the employee behaviours that will deliver the brand to customers.

The Class were encouraged to apply the lessons learned in a homework assignment prompting them to think about the purpose, promise and personality of the branded businesses they lead… and report back their insights.

In April, it was about Business Fundamentals & The Digital Future

Financial Ratios for Leaders

The Amalgam Leadership Programme’s April sessions kicked off with an eye-opening explanation of how to use financial ratios to assess the health and prospects of a company. RB Ndung’u took the cohort through the different ratios, their use, and their implications for a business, all extracted from the audited financial statements of a real-life company.

True to the Amalgam tenet of applicable learning, the participants then calculated the ratios for this company, drew their own inferences on the health and future of the said company, discussed this in groups, and gave feedback on their findings: A lesson that will stick with them into their future leadership journey.

Business in a Digital World

Martin Kiarie, an avowed business disruptor through digital technologies, took the cohort through how the digital revolution has radically changed the ways in which some businesses are done, killed some businesses, and created totally new ones. He then drew the distinctions between digitization, digitalization and digital transformation, and challenged the participants to take a critical look at how digital technologies would help them serve the customers better, not merely putting existing processes into digital formats. This session is a pre-cursor to the Amalgam Business Creativity Weekend held later in the programme where the class will have to deploy design thinking into designing products and services with the customer at the core and enabled by digital technologies.

Our Guest speaker - CEO Standard Group Orlando Lyomu

We, the Amalgam fraternity, were privileged to have Orlando Lyomu speak to us about his leadership journey and impart knowledge of the lessons he learnt along the traverse to the pinnacle of a large media conglomerate. From spirituality as a moral compass in leadership, to networks and their value, perseverance in the face of adversity and failure, and constant learning, Orlando challenged this leadership cohort to believe in themselves, have a plan and stick to it, and build a great team to work with. He ended the session with a very profound question we should all be asking ourselves…What lasting legacy will you leave? And what do you do every day to make a difference?

An inspiring and thought-provoking leadership story. Thank you, Orlando.

Mining Human Truths

Ndirangu wa Maina, Amalgam co-founder and CEO of Consumer Insight took to the podium to explain the process of deriving insights into a company’s customers in order to serve their needs better and win market share, loyalty, and ultimately drive-up revenues. The cohort was taken through successful case studies, then shown examples of insight driven communication and they had to work out the insights that led to those particular pieces of communication. As one can well imagine, this generated animated discussions, hilarity, and some “Aha!” moments. The entire class got a new perspective on deriving insights and a respect for the value of customer feedback in driving all aspects of a business.

This session then segued into a uniquely Amalgam part of the programme, Mentor time where the participants sat with their mentors drawn from Amalgam founders, faculty and even Alumni to get feedback and support on their leadership journey.

Budgets and Forecasts

The 2nd day started off like the 1st with the erudite RB Ndung’u, on the subject of Budgeting and Forecasting. The cohort learnt the origin of budgeting, different budgeting methods, the pros and cons of each, and how budgets and forecasts are related but different. To concretize the learning from this session the class was given an assignment to use a specific budgeting method using a real-life company, and then apply forecasting techniques to the result of the budgeting.

Market Segmentation

As a follow-on session to mining human truths, Ndirangu wa Maina elaborated on segmentation; how to segment customers in a market, the differentiators that can be used, the do’s and don’ts, and the value of segmentation when done well. Carefully selected case studies brought these concepts to life for the cohort, and they were challenged to re-look their business’ segmentation when they got back to work and see if improvements can be made or hitherto unseen segments could emerge.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

This is one of two completely new Amalgam modules, created in response to our rapidly changing world, and it was delivered by one of Kenya’s foremost Cryptocurrency experts Raymond Kaptich. Raymond took the class through the fundamental concepts behind the creation of Cryptocurrencies, how they work, and how Bitcoin led to the creation of the Blockchain. He then talked through the different types of Cryptocurrencies, their application and uses, and introduced the class to Ethereum and the possibilities unlocked by the decentralised apps that can run on the Ethereum blockchain. Examples of how blockchain technologies have been used practically in Africa were shown and discussed by the class.

He also explained the different ways to invest in the cryptocurrency economy, the risks and rewards of each method, and how to get started in this area. This session was also attended by Amalgam alumni from previous years, as Amalgam strives to continue assisting our community to keep acquiring new and useful knowledge that can help them in their leadership journeys.


Another new module was on the rapidly growing world of e-commerce, and the session was delivered by Fady Rostom, CEO and co-founder of ARK Africa, a firm that specializes in designing integrated brand experiences. The cohort learnt what e-commerce is and isn’t, the different forms it can take, and most importantly how to plan for and execute an e-commerce strategy for their companies. The session culminated in an engaging Q&A around issues of fulfilment, especially for perishable goods and, in one instance, “Day Old Chicks” that apparently lose almost all their value if delivered a day late!

The session then wrapped up with a social session on the rooftop of the Hermosa Garden hotel, with the cohort enjoying each other’s company and an array of refreshments until sundown.

Marketing is too crucial to remain Unaccountable

The Amalgam Leadership Programme delivery has evolved to a blend of virtual and in-person, necessitated by the fact that the Programme now has participants from 4 different countries. Drawing on past experience, the faculty adjusted the programme, content and interactivity to suit the different delivery methods.

Lenny Ng’ang’a, CEO of the Saracen Media Group, took the participants through the Return on Investment (ROI) of marketing, and they learnt that globally US$ 1.38 TRILLION is invested in marketing, and in Kenya it is estimated to be Kshs 79 Billion! ...but the key question is…how much of that is tracked for ROI?

To gain an overarching appreciation of the effectiveness of marketing, both short-term and long-term effects were explained because all too often the focus on marketing ROI is only on the short-term effects, yet the long-term effects can be up to 5X more and contribute a lot more to brand value and loyalty.

As with all Amalgam modules, the participants went through real life, local and international, case studies and learnt how successful marketing campaigns generated great ROI. The lessons from these were extracted so they could see how they can apply them to their businesses.

They also learnt how to set up an ROI measurement programme even in a market with low levels of data and make their marketing investments more accountable to the business, and their practical application task was to set out the steps they would be taking to enhance Marketing ROI measurement in their organizations.

Staff motivation and leading Remote Teams

Dr Yolande Coombes presented this very important facet of leadership in the new post pandemic world, and opened with some startling statistics on the importance of a motivated and engaged team, for example, did you know that businesses with a highly engaged workforce typically deliver 21% higher profitability than those in the bottom quartile?

The participants were then taken through the items, situations, and behaviours that motivate and conversely demotivate staff. These learnings were then looked at through the lens of the new remote and hybrid ways of working and the tools, processes, and scenario setting that enhance work and motivation in this new way of working, as well as ensuring a good work life balance for teams.

As with all Amalgam modules, applicable learning is a critical component, and the cohort were tasked with reflecting on what they are currently doing to seek feedback from their teams, as well as what motivating tools, processes and behaviours they have in place and any demotivating factors. Based on this analysis they will then draw up an improvement roadmap with an executional timeline.

Wellbeing Leadership

Businesses that don’t understand and value the people within them don’t understand how to lead. Wellbeing leadership places how you value your employees at the heart of how you approach leading them. At its most basic level, wellbeing leadership is about ensuring the quality and safety of the work environment, but it also covers how employees feel about colleagues, their work practices and how work impacts their physical and mental health.

Dr Yolande Coombes (Chair of Amalgam) explained to the class how the return on investment a company puts into wellbeing has a four-fold return in terms of productivity, reduced absences and higher employee engagement. In particular, Yolande focused on the impact of stress, depression and anxiety in the workplace and how the burden of mental ill-health in Africa is increasing. Fifteen African countries are among the top 30 globally for suicide for men, reflecting cultures where mental health is not discussed.

To support employee wellbeing, companies need to have clear, values-based leadership, high ethical standards and the necessary policies and strategies in place. Supporting the right lifestyle choices as well as providing opportunities for growth, creativity and learning within the company all contribute to greater wellbeing. Participants were tasked with reflecting on how they can better support the wellbeing of their staff.

Company Culture

Chris Harrison led a session which focused on how company cultures work (or don’t in some cases!). He enlightened participants by sharing the origins of the word ‘company’ which is a group of people who eat bread together, and how the basis of a company is a group of people working together for the common good. This can be in stark contrast to the approach taken by some modern companies to encourage individuals over groups.

Chris shared the importance of being deliberate about the culture that you create, because otherwise a culture might emerge that is not conducive to your business intentions, good for employees or for the bottom line. He focused on some of the common behaviours that impact culture such as incivility, gossip and lack of respect. He pointed out that a lack of diversity (for example in ethnicity, age or gender) can negatively impact the culture of a company.

Positive company cultures can be formed when there is visible leadership and when staff are aligned to the direction set by the leadership team. A clearly defined internal brand can set the cultural parameter and help staff to know the behaviours expected of them. Using the ideas presented, participants were tasked with coming up with 3 initiatives to try out to address negative aspects of their own company cultures.

Learn to pitch new products successfully, with Amalgam!

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen says more than 80% of new product launches fail.

The Amalgam Leadership Programme teaches applicable learning to Africa’s emerging business leaders. Modernising their approach to business and, as part of that, coaching success in business innovation.

This weekend the Amalgam Class of 2022 was immersed in a session specifically designed to do just that. Over a hectic 36-hour period, participants were given skills in four critical areas: Design Thinking, Marketing, Customer Experience and Staff Behaviour. The alignment of these four elements has been shown to maximise the chances of success in new product launches.

Our programme concluded with a competitive pitch session modelled on ‘Dragon’s Den’. Demanding high impact presentations, but denying teams the crutch of presentation technology: no PowerPoint!

Pitches had to come from the heart and connect with a clearly defined customer need. Presenters had to persuade, not inform. Our winning team pitched an insurance solution designed to build trust between policyholders and underwriters. They received loud applause from our audience of sponsors, Amalgam Alumni, and Faculty members.Amalgam participants took these learnings home to the businesses they run in Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Design your new products back to front, with Amalgam!

Martin Kiarie, CEO of Bean Interactive and a member of Amalgam Faculty runs our emerging leaders through a crash course in the Design Thinking process. Breaking the paradigm that new products are generally based on an organisation's capabilities or reactions to competitor activity. Instead, starting the process with a deep understanding of (and empathy with) a clearly identified customer. Deciding how best to help that customer get something they really need.

Martin’s two 90-minute sessions form the core inspiration for Amalgam’s Business Creativity Weekend. Where teams of business leaders, drawn from 4 African countries, compete to pitch a new product or service to a highly critical panel of entrepreneurs.

Amalgam coaches greater creativity for new product launches

Drawing on over thirty years of advertising experience, Lenny Ng’ang’a made the case for using real creativity to maximise the impact of new product launches. Genuine creativity is based on a Holy Trinity:

  • ● Identify a distinct truth
  • ● Create emotional resonance
  • ● Zag, when everyone else is zigging

Using dramatic examples from global and local advertising campaigns Lenny challenged participants in the Amalgam Business Creativity weekend to be bolder and braver than business convention dictates.

During the weekend, midway through the leadership journey of the 2022 Class, participants were challenged to design and pitch a new product in 36 hours. Teams worked through the night to align their thinking on product design, customer experience, marketing and employee behaviours.

After a series of high-energy pitches, and appropriate celebration of achievements, participants returned to their companies in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania. Ready and equipped to put their new knowledge into practice for the benefit of customers and shareholders.

Amalgam puts customers first in new product launches.

Loise Mboo, Chief of Staff, Open Institute and ICX (Institute of Customer Experience) Board Member inspires the Amalgam Leadership class.

CSpeaking at the Amalgam Business Creativity weekend, Loise illustrated why Customer Experience, delivered by staff, will make or break a new product launch.

Loise’s reasoning was this:

  • ● Experience is emotional
  • ● Emotions are perceptive
  • ● Experience is perception
  • ● Perception is reality

So, her plea was: ‘When you design your product launch, call in some customers to check their emotional reaction.’

Loise champions the need to map the customer journey, design great customer experiences and check customers’ feelings at every step. She also insists that employees should be the first audience you sell your new product to. While product launches remain a conversation between Marketing, Sales and the MD, the wider employee base will be unable to contribute to their success.

Amalgam participants took these learnings home to the businesses they lead in Uganda, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Class of 2022 participant: ‘What Amalgam does well is to combine learning with experience’.

Equal access to opportunities and resources can impact the bottom-line success of a company

Amalgam’s Class of 2022 are just past the midpoint of their leadership journey. In July we met at Hemingways Hotel for a two-day session which primarily focused on different aspects of risk, contingency and mitigation.

Dr Angela Gichaga took the class through two thought provoking sessions: one on Diversity and Inclusion and the second on Business Ethics. It stimulated some interesting discussion about the role of leaders, businesses and organisations in shaping how business should be done. Angela explained how a diverse workforce (in terms of age, ethnicity, gender, religion, capability, culture) and an inclusive work environment where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully with equal access to opportunities and resources can impact the bottom-line success of a company. In the Business Ethics session, Angela challenged the class to consider the long-term implications of corruption and how one small act can become pervasive throughout society. Ultimately - ethical businesses do better in the long term.

Lenny Ng’ang’a led a session on the dangers and impact of reputational risk and explored areas such as product and service failure, corporate citizenship and employees’ dealings with clients and customers that might damage a business’s reputation. Drawing on cases from around the world (the Boeing 737 Max crashes, the Chipotle food poisoning scandal) and closer to home (Suraya Property Group) the class worked through strategies to proactively manage reputational risk and, more importantly, to anticipate nightmare scenarios. The importance of transparency, empathy and responsiveness were highlighted. The rise of unregulated engagement on social media is a particular risk that participants explored.

Picking up from Lenny’s session, Mark Kaigwa took the participants through an exploration of social media marketing highlighting the pros and cons of direct engagement with customers. Social media has transformed the way the public sees companies, brands and individuals. Any leader who is ‘Marketing aware’ needs to understand how to commercialise social media - to build a profile, change perceptions and create sales opportunities.

Determining what your personal and business bad habits are, was the focus of a session led by Dr Yolande Coombes, the current Amalgam Chair. Participants reviewed how bad habits such as micromanaging, over-promising, or focusing too much on finances can creep into a business and eventually take it off track by negatively influencing the culture. Participants reflected on their own personal and work habits and learned ways of mitigating them through practicing essentialism and focusing on their most important goals and activities in a constructive way. The class carried out a couple of exercises designed to evaluate how much of their time is being spent on their most important activities and to assist them to make the necessary changes.

From the finance curriculum RB Ndung’u presented on Business Financing Alternatives and explored with the class how to restructure debt and the possible impacts on credit ratings. Participants also explored the benefits of Islamic banking, Mezzanine financing (convertible debt-financing) and private corporate bonds and promissory notes. Within East Africa LPO discounting is growing in popularity as a financing mechanism in SMEs. Traditional financing such as preference shares and equity were contrasted with crowd funding and carbon-credit funding. Ultimately, participants concluded that businesses need to adopt the right financing structure dependent on their short, medium and long-term needs.

Group mentor sessions focused on self-reflection where participants evaluated progress against the goals they had set at the start of the Programme. They were also given some support to think about their long-term leadership journey up to retirement and how to break down the milestones to achieve this.

A final session called peer assist was facilitated in order for the participants to learn better networking skills and to be able to offer assistance to one another. It was set up as ‘speed dating’ where participants had 8 minutes to find a connection and an area of mutual interest where they might be able to offer some assistance to one another. Most of the participants ended the session wanting second dates to follow up on the advice or ideas they had gained!

This month’s Amalgam ended with a surprise for one of the participants - Betty - who has been quietly working on her own ‘internal project’ for the duration of Amalgam. Her classmates surprised her with a baby shower, and we wish her all the best for a successful delivery in August, and we look forward to welcoming another Amalgam baby into our community.

Managing Talent

The Amalgam Leadership Programme in August addressed two related issues about managing talent. The first session by partner Lenny Ng’ang’a focused on why recruitment is too important to be left solely to the HR manager. Lenny took participants through the change in scope of human resources, showing how it now has an 85% focus on admin (policies and procedures) and 15% on talent development. Given that the greatest asset of most businesses is their staff, there appears to be a need to change this.

One of the fundamental problems is that HR looks inwards. Rarely do the HR staff meet customers, suppliers or other stakeholders. Few businesses involve HR in the business plan or understanding (and articulating) the brand promise; without this context, how can they hire the right people for the company now and where the business is heading?

The last two years have seen unprecedented levels of resignation from the workplace. Given the critical talent scarcity and the move to hybrid working, competition for employment is global. Now more than ever, leaders and managers need to shape the search and management of critical employees. Lenny reminded the participants to hire for attitude, purpose and alignment with the company culture. Skills are essential, as are qualifications, but when it comes to the crunch, hire for attitude over aptitude. The latter can be taught.

The second session, led by founding partner Ndirangu Maina focused on managing talent in a multi-generational workforce. Perhaps one of the most eye-opening things for the participants was the data showing how we think of young people today (lazy, entitled, impatient, unmotivated, irresponsible) is precisely how our parents' generation viewed us when we were young!

Although intergenerational values and attitudes are not that different – everyone wants meaningful work, how we approach it can vary substantially. Looking at data collected locally, Ndirangu could demonstrate where different generational groups place their emphasis and what they look for from an employer.

Given the nature of the workplace and work continues to change, it should be no surprise that the way we engage employees will change. Ndirangu suggested that leaders need to think about more inclusive engagement strategies and models which are more interactive and flexible.

In short, different generations need to understand one another and look for common ground, how best to work with one another, and how to get the best from one another rather than focusing on differences.

Pressures and rationalizations that lead to fraud and cybercrime

Amalgam’s 2-day September session began with an eye-opening session on Fraud and Business controls delivered by the vastly experienced RB Ndungu. He took the participants through the types of fraud perpetrated, the likely sources of fraud and fraudsters, and the evolution of fraud into the new post-covid digital era. The participants further learnt about the Fraud Triangle, which drove some animated discussion around a disturbing statistic that RB revealed grounded in research from Auditors inc. This was followed by unpacking the opportunities, pressures and rationalizations that lead to fraud, and most importantly, the controls that need to be put in place to prevent, deter, and detect fraud, including a leader’s role in these three key areas. RB stressed the need to have a robust companywide inculcation of the right ethics and culture, and how leaders must set the example and live these ethics and cultural values. This linked back to a previous Amalgam session on company culture.

In keeping with the theme of the day, William Makatiani the CEO and chief consultant at Serianu Limited a leading Cybersecurity firm operating across Africa, educated the cohort on aspects of Cybercrime, starting with the sheer volume of cybercrime incidents experienced daily, the types of cybercrime perpetrated, and those that most organisations are vulnerable to. He further highlighted the dangers all of us are exposed to unwittingly that can lead to an attack on the organisation or even our personal finances, such as the use of public unencrypted wi-fi. The class was then taken through the mitigation measures that an organisation should take to minimize cybercrime starting with the board-level appreciation of the magnitude of Cyber risk, leading to a CVEQ™ (Cyber visibility and exposure) assessment and policies to keep the company safe and vigilant because the cybercriminals evolve their tactics rapidly and companies have to keep apace. The leaders in the class were left with a new appreciation of the Cybercrime risks and what they as leaders need to implement with their IT specialists to upscale their cyber security.

The Amalgam Programme evolves to deliver knowledge to leaders on new and emerging areas of impact and thus this year, a new module was introduced on Artificial Intelligence and its impact on business today, which was delivered by Predictive Analytics CEO Tim Oriedo. The cohort learnt about the evolution of AI, a journey which surprisingly started in 1955 and has greatly accelerated in the post Covid era due to increasing digitalization, computing power, and the interconnectedness of devices and systems. He further outlined how AI is already pervasive and running in the background of many industrial solutions and online applications such as search and virtual assistants plus recommendation engines on streaming services like Netflix.

The class learnt about the 4 key areas they can begin to apply AI in their organisations now and into the future; for example, cluster analysis, which organises mounds of data into insights that a company could use to better serve its customers. Tim emphasized the disconnect between the board level, executive management and non-managerial levels in an organisation on the appreciation of the potential of AI to deliver business impact through insights, efficiency, and automation of repetitive tasks, and how the leaders in the class can start driving a change in this important and future leaning aspect of business.

The second day of the Amalgam September session was an exciting return to a treasured Amalgam experience, an in-business immersion and solving a real business problem. This year we were privileged to be hosted by the Kenchic company at their processing plant some 70km from Nairobi, at the foot of Mt Ol Donyo Sabuk. The cohort was bussed to the venue in comfort reminiscent of African leaders at a recent global event, and upon at the Plant, the session commenced with an overview of the business and a Q&A session, followed by a briefing on the operations of the Plant and safety protocols to be followed. The class then donned the required health and safety gear for a tour of the impressive Plant and were taken through all the stages that culminate in the chicken we eat in restaurants and buy in the stores. They experienced firsthand some aspects of the AI in industrial processes referred to in Friday’s class, and how the interface of AI and people working together delivered great efficiency and made some jobs much easier.

After the tour of the Plant and a nice chicken themed lunch, the cohort then turned their attention to solving the business issue that they had been briefed on earlier and using their experience, tools and learnings from the Amalgam Programme gave practical and well thought out suggestions on how to solve the business problem and turned these over to Kenchic. Next year we will give you an update on the outcome of these suggestions, as the last field trip to Chloride Exide yielded a solution that became part of their business planning.

Post-pandemic, the office has become a tool rather than a location

The penultimate Amalgam session was held on Friday, October 21st and was the last content session before the graduation ceremony in November. The programme continues in a blended fashion, and this session was online.

Yolande Coombes began the class by getting teams to reflect on changes to work that have occurred post-pandemic. The class considered the office a tool rather than a location, so attendance at the office might only be needed when it is helpful. Participants considered this for the future of hybrid work.

The final session in the Finance Curriculum was delivered by RB Ndung’u, focusing on Business valuation. The class reviewed critical times in the lifecycle of a business when valuation is applicable - before a sale, to support financing applications and price discovery when merging or acquiring other companies or buying out minority interests. Other unusual times for valuation include when partners divorce, when listing on the stock exchange or when partnerships dissolve. The valuation consists of intangible assets such as goodwill, trademarks or patents and exclusive franchises.

RB covered some common myths, such as future worth being determined by past earnings. Participants learned that the value of a company is highly dependent on time and involvement, meaning it can be subjective. The company's price is based on the assets in the balance sheet, but the value is the deal price - what someone is prepared to pay. Participants also practiced some standard business valuation methods in the case study.

Participants were given ideas on strengthening their presentation skills. Yolande reminded them that leaders who excel have strong communication skills. The focus was crafting a story to keep the audience hooked rather than unrelated data points. They were also given tips and ideas for keeping the audience interested, overcoming nerves, and crafting slides.

There then followed a session with mentors to enable participants to reflect on their Amalgam journey; it was rewarding to see the breadth of insights and knowledge they have gained in less than a year. More impressive was hearing the impact trying out ideas they have learned on the Programme has had on their businesses and in their personal lives.

Amalgam Leadership’s 4th annual cohort graduates!

The 2022 class of the Amalgam Leadership Programme’s participants enjoyed their Graduation Day at the Tamarind Brasserie in Karen. This was the culmination of a year-long journey of discovery and marked their evolution into high impact leaders; in both the work and personal spheres of their lives.

Celebrating with them were the top management of the companies who had sponsored them, Amalgam Alumni, and Faculty members.

The event was wittily emceed by Amalgam founder partner Chris Harrison, and the programme featured each graduand presenting to all present their Amalgam journey. Their presentations were highly individualistic, moving and powerful testimonials of their learning experience. Each shared a commitment to keep working at becoming the best leader they can be.

Our keynote speaker was Dr Nelson Kuria, a highly respected leader in the Insurance and Cooperatives sectors, holder of the Order of the Grand Warrior and Moran of the Burning Spear in recognition of his contribution to those industries. Dr Kuria’s theme was how ethics and empathy combine to inform great leadership. He shared his journey from poverty in the village of Dundori, to the heights of his tenure as CEO of the CIC Insurance Group and on to his current role on many Boards. He drew powerful lessons from his own life journey.

First, he told us, as a leader you need the courage to stand by your ethical standards, no matter the headwinds and pressure you face. He gave an example of a stand he took against an unethical decision that cost him his job but later paid dividends in his reputation and employability.

Second, to be a good leader you need to be empathetic to all whom you lead and interact with: “Be a good human being”. Empathy and humility make a leader who merits the loyalty of all.

Third, strike a balance between work, family life, and community. As Dr Kuria looked back on his career, he distinguished himself at work, but regrets not spending more time with his family. He urged our graduands to find the right balance. He ended his inspirational talk with the pearl of wisdom that great leadership endures which is keeping him happily busy in his sunset years.

Each graduand then received their plaque and certificate, after which they were formally inducted into the Amalgam Alumni cohort. This group now numbers 50 business leaders from diverse sectors and four African countries. One of Amalgam’s key objectives is to create a network of trust and support that leaders can rely upon.

A sumptuous lunch laid on by Tamarind Brasserie concluded the day’s programme in style.

5th Amalgam Class starts!

The 5th Amalgam Class of 2023 started with a weekend retreat to the Fairmont Safari Club in the Masai Mara. A beautiful setting by the Mara River ensured participants could leave the office behind, allowing them to unwind and reflect. This new class of future African business leaders from Kenya, Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania represent business sectors which include manufacturing, logistics, IT, microfinance and agriculture.

The class of 2022 shared video advice with the incoming class encouraging them to use Amalgam to grow in all aspects of their life and to embrace the opportunity they have been given to participate in Amalgam fully.

Moments that matter

We started the weekend with self-reflection - one of the foundations of high emotional intelligence. Participants were asked to review their lives and select some of the critical moments – good and bad – that have shaped their lives. Faculty kicked off the process, and their openness and authentic stories enabled participants to overcome initial fears and share their life and work journeys to date. As a group, we concluded that we have all had challenges, luck, failure and success and that learning comes from how you deal with each.

Life Assessment

At Amalgam, we believe you can’t lead a company until you know how to lead others and you can’t lead others until you can lead yourself. This life assessment encourages participants to take stock of their lives in all areas ranging from career, finance, family and fun to community. Once participants had reflected on their gaps and challenges, they were able to set goals and areas to work on over the coming year.

Leadership Styles

One of the Amalgam Programme’s fundamental tenets is that many people find themselves in a leadership programme following a meteoric rise in one technical discipline. Unfortunately, these honed technical skills in finance, marketing or administration are unlikely to be those that will help you excel as a leader. Chris Harrison led a session on ‘your leadership style’, assisting participants in assessing whether they are managers or leaders and what new skills and behaviours they need to take on to evolve their leadership style.

Emotional Intelligence

Practising self-reflection and analysing beliefs and behaviours are critical facets of emotional intelligence (EQ). Yolande Coombes introduced participants to how EQ can enhance your leadership abilities and how, in particular, using empathy sets you apart from other leaders. Participants were asked to assess their EQ and leadership and think of actions they might take to address any shortcomings.


A new addition to the Amalgam curriculum this year is the addition of MyGrow App. The App allows participants to practice their emotional intelligence skills and traits and use them to build their leadership capacity and develop the culture within their teams. Mygrow makes it possible to create, measure and track Emotional intelligence at scale. The Amalgam group started with their first psychometric assessment and asked their peers back in their companies to assess them.

The hare and the tortoise

The participants were able to practice some of their new leadership skills during a team game based on a safari game drive. It was lots of fun, and although some teams could see rhinos, lions, elephants and hares, the elusive tortoise caused the most issues. The winning team had a strong collaborative leadership style that was inclusive and friendly, and the team had fun completing the task.The special bond created in the opening weekend is just one of the many things that set the Amalgam Leadership programme apart from others. When we meet again in February, the new class will have already put into practice many of the aims and skills they gained from the opening session.

The art of negotiation for leaders

The February Amalgam leadership session began immersing the 2023 cohort in the areas of knowledge crucial to leadership success. The two-day session started off with the erudite RB Ndung’u taking the participants through designing and implementing Performance Dashboards. In his inimitable style peppered with etymological references RB explained the origins, evolution, and utility of dashboards and their value to a leader in setting and gauging business performance.

The next session was on “Understanding Big Data” delivered by Tim Oriedo, CEO of Predictive Analytics, and he took the participants on a journey of understanding what Big data is, its evolution, and the significant gains organisations can make from drawing insights from mining big data, but at the same time enhancing their awareness of the data protection laws and best practices. Tim also gave the cohort a peek into the future of what Big data will be capable of with an exploration of the near future possibilities of the coming together of AI and Big data, and how this will transform the way we work, eliminate some jobs and create totally new ones.

Dr Yolande Coombes then took the cohort through Negotiations which is a skill crucial to every leader. She engaged the cohort on how to prepare for a negotiation, how to recognize both the rational and emotional factors at play in a negotiation, how to work towards mutually satisfactory results, and how to close a negotiation successfully.

In Amalgam’s tradition of applicable learning from leaders who have walked the path, the guest speaker was Philip Kuria, An Amalgam alumnus from the very first cohort, and he shared the story of his leadership journey right from his confusion leading to a University degree that earned him an interview in a Horticultural firm, to his employment and being led by a firm and fair boss who encouraged personal growth and made him strive to be better in every way, to his leaving formal employment and setting up his own company in the same industry now servicing an unaddressed niche he saw during his time as General Manager. The values of leadership that served him well in his journey are humility, authentic relationships, perseverance, teamwork, and growing with others.

After lunch, Chris Harrison challenged the participants on their “Mission, Vision, Values” and whether these are guiding lights for their organisations or just dusty placards that hang in receptions, boardrooms and corridors that mean nothing to anyone. Chris then further provoked debate around whether the organisation’s brand would be a better rallying call for all, both emotionally and behaviourally, and would align organisational performance and culture much better.

Focus on Finance and Governance

The fourth Amalgam session of 2023 had a focus on finance and governance. As part of the internal accountability of an applicable learning programme Dr Yolande Coombes started the two-day session by asking all participants to reflect on what new things they had learned or tried out since the last session. The range of learnings included: starting journaling, trying to be more vulnerable, using my strengths differently, trying ideas from books, increasing self-awareness, techniques to be calmer, learning AI, and a “positive news only” meeting to get team members focussed on what is working.

Cashflow Statements

The first session was led by RB Ndung’u on demystifying cash flows. This practical session highlighted the difference between direct and indirect accounting methods and how information can be buried in accounts. Using accounts from a company on the Nairobi Stock Exchange, the participants had a real-time exercise to uncover the company’s health by using their newfound ability to interrogate financial statements to extract decision-making information. The objective of this module is to get the participants to understand cash flows from a leadership perspective. This session highlighted for participants how to read accounts more diligently and to understand the importance of following up on the notes and cross-referencing accounts – this is where you find the ‘secrets’ and how you drill down to a company’s financial health.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

This is the second year that Raymond Kaptich has taken the class through the fundamental concepts of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies and how they work. Raymond conceptualised that Blockchain is like the internet, and Cryptocurrency is one application of Blockchain, but there are many more. Blockchain is a way of building trust and eliminating intermediaries. Blockchain spreads data regarding transactions, deals, and records to multiple people, meaning it is almost impossible to forge or manipulate data. Blockchain can be used for land registries, passports, and supply chains. We are only just beginning to tap into the multiple uses of Blockchain.

The primary use of Blockchain has been in Cryptocurrency. Raymond explained that Crypto is akin to loyalty points at a supermarket or Bonga points with Safaricom - you can’t see them, but you can exchange them. He then talked through the different types of Cryptocurrencies, their application and uses, and introduced the class to Ethereum and the possibilities unlocked by the decentralised apps that can run on the Ethereum blockchain. He also explained the different ways to invest in the cryptocurrency economy, the risks and rewards of each method, and how to get started in this area.

Assignment Feedback

Chris Harrison gave feedback to the participants on the business culture homework they had been set at the last session. The assignment has been to identify areas of culture within their businesses that needed addressing or strengthening. Participants reflected on how they could take their ideas through to execution and spent some time outlining the next steps.

Guest Speaker – Julian Kyula

Amalgam Leadership’s guest speaker this month was Julian Kyula. Julian is an accomplished entrepreneur and business leader who has been nominated and received awards for his accomplishments from organisations such as IBM, CNBC and Top 40 under 40. He is the founder of MODE group, a fintech with a presence in over 26 countries (including 14 in Africa). He also started Kyula Capital International, EDOMx and Beulah City (affordable real estate for community welfare).

Julian’s presentation to the participants on the moments that have mattered in his life began by outlining some of the key traits that have helped him succeed: creativity, courage, grit and focus. He piqued the class’s interest with his assertion that ‘Thought - not money is the real business capital’ quoting Harvey Firestone. He surprised the participants by explaining how as an entrepreneur, sometimes you have to consider destroying your business as part of your strategy to build something better. He urged the class to think about what they were doing as leaders. He indicated that critical leadership ability puts substance into the details of who, where, what, and when; the most important focus is why.

Mining Human Truths

Ndirangu wa Maina, Amalgam co-founder and CEO of Consumer Insight explained to the class the process of deriving insights into a company’s customers to serve their needs better and win market share, and loyalty and ultimately drive-up revenues. Ndirangu used a series of case studies as part of an interactive session where they had to deduce the insights driving the communication. Participants were very thoughtful about the notion of universal insights and how these might apply to their businesses and, in particular, the value of placing the customer at the centre of your businesses.

Mentor Time

The final session of the first day was mentor time where participants had a chance to connect with their mentors in small groups and update them on their emotional intelligence journey using the Mygrow app. Participants have found that they are becoming more self-aware which is helping them lead themselves and in turn lead others better. The mentor session was also a time to discuss problems in their business and to identify some new or different things to try out as part of the emphasis on applicable learning.

Financial Ratios for Leaders

The second session of the weekend by RB Ndung’u was on how to use financial ratios to assess the health and future direction of a company. RB took the cohort through the different ratios, their use, and their implications for a business, all extracted from the audited financial statements of a company listed on the Nairobi securities exchange.

Participants were tasked to calculate the ratios for this company, they then had to summarise what they thought the health and future of the company is. RB encouraged them to carry out a similar exercise with their own accounts for the businesses they work in. Many participants were intrigued by the way ratios can provide a depth of information that is not as obvious when looking at the balance sheet.

Business Ethics and Diversity & Inclusion

Dr Angela Gichaga flew back especially to take the class of 2023 through two thought provoking sessions; one on Business Ethics and the second on Diversity and Inclusion. It stimulated some interesting discussion about the role of leaders, businesses and organisations in shaping how business should take place.

In the Business Ethics session, Angela challenged the class to consider the long-term implications of corruption and how one small act can become pervasive throughout society. Ultimately - ethical businesses do better in the long term. She also challenged the class on whether we are really clear on what corruption is. The participants were given some scenarios (acted out) which challenged their approaches to ethics and diversity and inclusion. Angela informed the class about the perceived trade off and misconceptions of business ethics.

Angela explained how a diverse workforce (in terms of age, ethnicity, gender, religion, capability, and culture) and an inclusive work environment where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully with equal access to opportunities and resources can impact the bottomline success of a company. She shared research data showing how diverse companies can be up to 25% more profitable.

Data protection and privacy session

A new module for the 2023 curriculum is Data Protection and Privacy which was presented by Cynthia Mathenge from SeeWhy Source. Participants were orientated to some recent changes in law that will affect them in terms of data protection and privacy. Cynthia explored with participants the value of data protection and privacy in terms of brand reputation and stakeholder assurance. She shared cases of where companies have been fined or had legal claims against them for not taking the issues seriously enough.


A final session to embed a transferable skill of networking was facilitated by Yolande for the participants to learn better skills in gaining and sharing information and to be able to offer assistance to one another. It was set up as ‘speed dating’ where participants had 4 minutes to find a connection with the person they were talking to and an area of mutual interest where they might be able to offer some assistance to one another. Most of the participants ended the session wanting second dates to follow up on the advice or ideas they had gained!

Breaking habits and Prioritising the Essential

Amalgam Leadership met online on 19th May for the second online session this year. Although most sessions are face-to-face, the online sessions give those participants from other countries a respite from travel. The online sessions are much shorter in terms of content, but they offer an opportunity for participants to check in with faculty and peers as well as to receive content.

Consumer Segmentation

Ndirangu wa Maina started the session with a follow on from his engaging session on Mining Human Truths with a session focused on customer segmentation. As markets become more competitive and consumers more sophisticated the one-size-fits all marketing strategy comes under severe pressure. Ndirangu highlighted how competitors start “stealing” a market leader’s customers by attracting specific groups who feel alienated by a generic product. He used examples from toothpaste to movies to show how marketers segment.

As Ndirangu elaborated on segmentation, he explained the process of how to segment customers, the differentiators that can be used, the do’s and don'ts, and the value of segmentation when done well. Carefully selected case studies brought these concepts to life for the cohort, and they were challenged to re-look their business’ segmentation when they got back to work and see if improvements can be made, or hitherto unseen segments could emerge.

Breaking habits and Prioritising the Essential

On the leadership side, the focus was on leading the self, and the participants learned the concept of “Essentialism” i.e., Identifying and focusing on what is essential to your goals and performance and being ruthless about cutting out the non-essential.

Determining what your personal and business bad habits are was the focus of a session led by Dr Yolande Coombes. Participants reviewed how bad habits such as micromanaging, over-promising, or focusing too much on finances can creep into a business and eventually take it off track by negatively influencing the culture. Participants reflected on their own personal and work habits and learned ways of mitigating them. The session also looked at techniques for prioritisation and focusing on their most important goals and activities in a constructive way.

Participants were assigned two exercises to complete which involve mapping out where their time goes, and where it ideally should go, and looking for insights to help them change this. As part of the Amalgam philosophy of implementing practical solutions, each participant will draft an action plan to work towards their ideal time allocation and begin practicing it.

From Creativity to Execution - the Amalgam Business Creativity Weekend

The Amalgam Business Creativity weekend is one of the highlights of our Annual Programme. Inspired by the insight that 95% of new products and services fail within their first year, this immersive session addresses the key challenge of innovation. The reality is that not enough African businesses have the kind of collaborative cultures that permit true innovation - defined as true creativity plus effective execution. The session is designed and led by Amalgam Partner Chris Harrison.

During an intensive 36-hour period, the Amalgam Class is formed into teams and coached in effective Team Dynamics by Amalgam Partner Dr. Yolande Coombes. Then, the core of the weekend is devoted to Design Thinking, a customer-centric approach to new product development, coached by Martin Kiare of Bean Interactive. Participants share their ideas for new product opportunities that range from side hustles to category changing initiatives, and vote on which ones to develop. This year our 3 teams pioneered:

  • ● An ecosystem to support farmers to be more commercially successful.
  • ● A technology solution for salon owners that enables them to balance customer satisfaction with profitable service.
  • ● A consultancy offering that delivers a more human approach to onboarding new staff.

Teams work through the night to bring their new product to life, complete with an appropriate Customer Experience. The next morning Amalgam Partner Lenny Ng’ang’a opens their minds to the power of creativity to make their offering special and dramatise its impact on the market.

All of this effort comes to fruition when teams pitch their ideas in front of an invited audience, in Amalgam’s homage to the hit global TV franchise Dragon’s Den.

All Amalgam Leadership Programme content is designed to be applied to the businesses our Class members own or work in. Over the coming months, Faculty will challenge them to showcase successful innovation they have managed to create for their own customers.

Team Andama won this year’s Amalgam Creativity Weekend business idea.

Valuable Value Chains

In today's digital age, business is not merely about offering a product or a service; it is about carving a space within the intricate web of global interconnectedness and real-time information flow. At the August session of the Amalgam Leadership Programme, participants had a lively online session with Martin Kiare on the topic of Business in a Digital World.

The digital realm has transformed the traditional business landscape, shifting from localised markets to expansive digital frontiers. For East African business leaders, embracing digital means unlocking unparalleled opportunities to expand their reach, foster innovation, and tap into global markets. Furthermore, with several international companies looking towards East Africa as an emerging hub of growth and potential, there's an amplified need to integrate digital strategies for seamless collaborations, efficient operations, and to maintain a competitive edge.

However, the importance of business in this digital era isn't confined solely to leveraging technology for expansion or profit. It is equally about understanding and adapting to the evolving expectations of a more informed, digitally savvy consumer base. One of Martin’s key messages was that digital business is about creating more valuable value chains and using technology to enable the value transfer. Customers today demand transparency, instant gratification, and personalised experiences and thinking about their journey, and needs is paramount.

Navigating through Leadership Effectively and Ethically

In the ever-evolving landscape of leadership, the Amalgam Leadership Programme continually strives to illuminate the pathway by harnessing the synergy of experienced leaders and emerging talents. This was demonstrated during our meeting held on the 22nd and 23rd of September.

The first day unveiled multi-faceted leadership paradigms. Yolande Coombes tackled the pervasive issue of Human Bias in leadership, delineating the subtle yet impactful ways stereotypes and judgments permeate our decision-making processes. The depth of discussions encircled not only recognizing biases but also structuring mechanisms to mitigate their inadvertent impacts on organisational culture and decision-making.

Lenny Ng’ang’a presented a crucial session on Online Reputation Management. In the digital age where information spreads rapidly, the tenuous thread upon which reputations hang was explored through vivid case studies like Chipotle. The session transcended traditional discussions, linking reputation management directly with organizational and personal fiscal health, risk management, and strategic positioning in digital spaces.

Tim Oriedo propelled us into the future with his session on AI in Business, emphasizing that the intersection of AI and business operations is not a futuristic concept, but a present-day reality. Drawing upon data analytics, machine learning, and predictive analysis, he illustrated how AI is reshaping decision-making, customer experiences, and operational efficiencies.

Fred Afune (an Amalgam Alumnus) joined as Guest Speaker to share the ‘Moments that have Mattered’ in his leadership journey. His insights emphasized pragmatism, adaptive learning, and the importance of aligning career trajectories with passion and curiosity. He shared some stories that included occasional necessity of prioritising passion over paycheck, as well as providing practical insights into adaptive leadership style.

Joe Mbugua’s exploration into Influencer Marketing presented a modern-day conundrum: navigating the digital landscape with authenticity and measurable impact. He decrypted metrics, emphasizing the necessity to understand and leverage data to strategize and measure marketing campaigns effectively in the digital space.

Following a session with mentors, the evening saw an alumni event where participants from previous cohorts attended, and Yolande Coombes gave a presentation emphasizing a crisis brewing in numerous organisations: a crisis of meaning and engagement in the workplace. With tangible data linking employee engagement, organisational purpose, and financial health, the need to create meaningful work environments was crystalized as not merely a moral imperative but a fiscal one. The presentation was based on a White Paper she had written for The Core Story.

One the Second day - an on-site visit to Royal Media Services (RMS) granted participants a behind-the-scenes viewpoint of media operations, illuminating the delicate balance between traditional media, digital platforms, and brand management. From observing radio and TV studios to engaging with digital media strategists, participants witnessed the multidimensional aspects of modern media houses.

However, learning was not a one-way street. Participants, utilising insights garnered from their visit and presentations, engaged with RMS, dissecting presented challenges and providing strategic feedback. This practical application of knowledge in real-time problem-solving underscored the Amalgam Leadership Programme's commitment to not only impart knowledge but to facilitate practical and applicable learning experiences.

In conclusion, these two days were not merely a meeting but a dynamic confluence of ideas, practical learning, and leadership application. We extend our gratitude to our speakers, engaged participants, and RMS for facilitating a rich learning environment. The Amalgam Leadership Programme remains committed to shaping leaders who are not only cognizant of contemporary challenges but are also equipped to navigate through them effectively and ethically.

Unveiling the Journey: Amalgam Leadership Programme 2024

We are excited to kickstart the Class of 2024 at the stunning Sarova Lodge in the Masai Mara! This year, we're bringing together 11 participants from financial, logistics, agriculture, and media sectors for a transformative experience. Diversity drives innovation: Imagine the conversations, the exchange of ideas, and the breadth of perspectives! This is where future business leaders are made.

Embracing Feedback - A New Frontier

Feedback is the cornerstone of growth, and this year, the Amalgam Leadership Programme has introduced a pioneering session dedicated to instilling a feedback culture. Participants practised the art of giving and receiving feedback constructively, a skill crucial for personal and professional development.

Building Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is not just a buzzword; it's a leadership superpower. This weekend, our participants delved deep into understanding and enhancing their EQ, setting them apart as empathetic and impactful leaders. The Class of 2024 were introduced to Mygrow which is an innovative platform in revolutionizing the way our participants develop and track their emotional intelligence and leadership skills.

Moments That Matter - Reflecting on Our Journeys

In life and leadership, every moment has the potential to shape us. This weekend, the Class of 2024 participants embarked on a profound journey of self-reflection, uncovering the 'Moments that Matter' in their personal and professional lives. From triumphs to trials, these stories of resilience and growth remind us that leadership is not just about where you're going, but also where you've been. The Life Assessment and Balance Wheel, a tool designed to help leaders evaluate and enhance their life balance across key areas: career, finance, family, fun, and community was introduced to the participants. This session encouraged our future leaders to set personal goals, identify growth areas, and embark on a path to holistic well-being.

Nothing tests leadership like the unpredictability of nature. Our participants experienced this first-hand during a team activity in the Masai Mara, embodying collaboration, strategy, and inclusivity. As the opening weekend for the class of 2024 concludes, a strong peer network emerges, poised for a year of growth, challenges, and success.

Business Ethics and Diversity

Dr Angela Gichaga is guaranteed to challenge you from the first slide to the very end, and even get you to do a role play to test your ingrained perceptions – in a bid to correct this. Angela tasked the class of 2024 participants to find ways to inculcate diversity in their businesses, including in instances where diversity seems elusive: Can you engage a hiring agent to get candidates outside of the geographical area where you are guaranteed to find only a certain group of people? She posed. The participants realised that with intention, they can conduct ethical business that not only ticks the gender diversity box, but also a consideration of various other factors for a balanced work environment.

While posing the question whether business is amoral, Angela inquired from the participants about the values their businesses/companies stand for, and how these are encapsulated for everyone’s awareness. She suggested that these values be properly entrenched in the company policies and regularly updated, and the leadership to role model the desired business ethics because - an ethical business is a good business for companies, employees, regulators and society.

Financial Mastery for CEOs with RB Ndung’u

RB Ndung’u, board member of KRA delivered a vital session on Understanding Financial Statements to the Amalgam Class of 2024. Highlighting the non-delegable responsibility of CEOs for their company’s financial integrity, the session used real-life examples, an interactive quiz, and a practical case study to emphasize the importance of financial literacy.

Participants left the session equipped to better oversee financial management and avoid potential sanctions, armed with insights and tools to help them have better conversations around finance, and to be able to interrogate financial statements. Using a real-life case study of Kenya Airways annual reporting, the participants calculated some ratios to better understand the Airline’s position.

Enhancing decision-making through dashboards

RB Ndung’u, esteemed etymologist, enlightened participants on the origins of the term "dashboard", setting the stage for a comprehensive exploration of modern performance management systems. RB shared insights into the evolution and strategic benefits of performance dashboards, emphasising their pivotal role in informed decision-making. Attendees gained a deeper understanding of how to leverage these tools effectively in their businesses. RB's expertise and passion for the subject sparked lively engagement throughout the session, leaving participants inspired to implement dashboard solutions tailored to their business needs.

Marketing Masterclass

Chris Harrison, Managing Director of The Brand Inside, shared his views on what every CEO needs to know about Marketing. The veteran Marketer and Culture Changer surprised the Amalgam Class of 2024 by revealing that taking brands to market has been part of human interaction for several millennia. Chris went on to explain the principal role of the Marketing profession is to provide commercial analysis. Another surprise to an audience who saw Marketers as doers rather than thinkers.

Allan Wainaina

Amalgam’s guest leader for the month of April was Allan Wainaina, CFO of Telkom Kenya. He took the cohort through his leadership journey, the highs and the lows, and the lessons he learnt along the way. Allan stressed the importance of constant learning, self-improvement, and acquiring new skills, qualities that served him well when new roles came up in the organisations he worked in and helped propel him up the career ladder. Adaptability to different cultures, and different working styles coupled with resilience is a key factor of his success in different countries and organisations, he gave examples of when this goes wrong, weathering tough times like the Covid Pandemic, and how the Amalgam leaders can avoid the pitfalls he encountered.

Allan also urged the cohort to put their hand up whenever there are opportunities that excite them, and not wait to be noticed or picked - your leader may not know what really excites you and the capabilities you have developed.

He also stressed the importance of balance, and cultivating passions outside work. Allan is himself is a recognized DJ with a sizeable fan following! Hilarity ensued when he replayed conversations with people who meet him officially having first known him as a DJ. Giving back is also something that motivates him greatly and he sits on the board of a number of charitable institutions.

Allan’s interactive session was quite inspirational for our leaders, and was delivered with a blend of humility, humour, and wisdom, qualities aligned to the Amalgam Leadership Programme’s ethos.

The Amalgam Class of 2024 loves Mygrow!

Each Class of Amalgam benefits from access to Africa's leading Emotional Intelligence development platform . Mygrow sends users a Daily Droplet that unpacks a topic of Emotional Intelligence and offers daily exercises to help users to develop their EQ. 16 recognised Emotional Intelligence skills help people to better manage themselves in their interactions with others. Benefits include better decision-making, stress management, innovation and conflict resolution. The Amalgam Class is currently learning more about Self-Perception and Self-Expression. Some members are doing their daily droplet 7 days a week!

Etiquette and modern manners

Kenyan media owner and business veteran Rose Kimotho conducts a no-holds-barred session on manners and dress for modern business leaders. Reminding the Class of 2024 that first impressions count. Understand cultural differences; maintain appropriate personal space and read the room. Rose also conducted a very engaging role-play on behaviour at the dinner table. Many good behaviours that we learn as children can be forgotten as we advance our careers. They need to be remembered.

Introducing Big Data

Dr. Tim Oriedo kicks off the Technology curriculum for the Amalgam Class of 2024. The Founder of Predictive Analytic Labs made the topic of Big Data relevant to every individual in the room and each of the businesses they represent. Bringing the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution into sharp focus.

Making the connection: Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Raymond Kaptich, Founder of Cryptovalue, conducts a highly interactive session on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. This is the third year Raymond has delivered his briefing and it's becoming clear that Blockchain transactions are increasingly underpinning the way governments and major organisations conduct their daily business. Turning to the latest position on cryptocurrency the key learning was that Bitcoin is a finite resource and not liable to devaluation through inflation.

Navigating Customer Segmentation

Understanding your customers is the key to successful marketing. In this month’s online session, we delved into Customer Segmentation in an in-depth exploration of the topic led by Ndirangu Maina. Participants explored how to segment customers based on demographics, behavior, and psychographics to create targeted marketing strategies. By identifying the most valuable segments, we can improve marketing ROI, enhance customer loyalty, and drive higher revenue. How well do you know your customers?

Measuring Marketing ROI for Better Decisions

Marketing without measurement is like sailing without a compass. During the Amalgam Programme session on May 17th, Lenny Nganga took the class through a session on Marketing ROI. He emphasized the importance of tracking both short-term and long-term marketing effects. Participants learned how to calculate ROI using profit-based and revenue-based methods, ensuring every marketing activity is aligned with business goals. Ready to make your marketing spend work harder?

Mentorship and Career Visioning

"Where do you see yourself at the peak of your career?” During the breakout sessions of our second May online meeting, participants had the chance to discuss their professional and personal achievements with their mentors. These intimate conversations focused on future aspirations and identifying the skills and traits needed to reach their career zenith. What steps are you taking today to shape your tomorrow?

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