George Njuguna, 39

Director, Information Technology (CIO)

Safaricom
My Story

George spent most of his school life abroad, before coming back to move things.

The Chief Information Officer at Safaricom went to school in the US, where he studied management information systems at Geneva College and later strategy and finance at the same institution.

He wanted to be a lawyer, but destiny had other goodies in store. Now, he is a techie to the core and an inductee to the CIO Hall of Fame.

"If we all did our part in whatever small way, there would be a big impact for everyone."

He is the man in charge of network and systems at Safaricom. When Safaricom and M-Pesa networks are experiencing downtime, he is the brain that works to plug the problem for seamless operations.

‘‘I have a team of 800 people, mostly creatives and software developers. This way, we can keep people connected, operations running, and innovation happening.’’

He believes in people-centred leadership, supporting his team and making them visible.

‘‘I work hard, too. I work between 14 and 18 hours a day. I have worked for 26 and 27 hours to restore service during incidents.’’

Such incidents happen often. ‘‘My heart drops. But I have to be there physically during system faults. Not to cause grief but to manage stakeholders.’’

He says working with young creatives is exciting and challenging.

‘‘I always get curveballs when I am challenged to learn about concepts such as cryptocurrency. But you need to keep training yourself and learning.’’ For a man of his exploits, he could be content, but not really.

‘‘I am in a space where I keep asking myself what more I could do to nurture new talent in the industry and to create more jobs. What more I could do to secure the future of the industry?’’

The more responsibilities one has, the more touch points they have, he adds.

‘‘You have to keep in touch with your own goals, your team’s goals, and your personal issues.’’

George is a believer in small things and not leaving anything behind.

‘‘If you are to develop a two-pager report, make it the best report.’’

Studying abroad allowed him to see possibilities, he says.

‘‘This kind of experience exposes you to how people live and work and how they use technology.’’

Away from work, he and his friends have adopted a home for children with cerebral palsy in Kakamega County.

‘‘If we all did our part in whatever small way, there would be a big impact for everyone.’’

Few things excite George like watching his children grow.

‘‘Watching them get into sports, drama, and schoolwork is fulfilling. It also reminds me of things I did myself.’’

Grief has set him back but also taught him a key life lesson: the transitory nature of life.

James Kahongeh