January 2020 Amalgam Day
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
November 2019 Session
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.
FINANCIAL LITERACY FOR CEOS
Even the four CFO’s on the Programme found that Richard Ndungu 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.
Participants then had a crash course in redesigning user experience in the gift-giving segment.
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.
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 from 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.
The sessions wrapped up with Dr Yolande Coombes taking the participants through Hallmarks of Leaders, then guiding them on crafting their personal leadership journeys that they wish to embark upon during the course of Amalgam programme.
All in all a wonderful weekend of deep self reflection, learning, and communing with Nature.
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.