• Kaushik lives by the ‘Kaizen Pledge’: “Alone we are weak, together we are strong. Together we shall work with our own hands, as a family in mutual trust and with responsibility. Progress can be achieved, only if we are ever ready to change ourselves.”
• As CEO of the year, Kaushik says the challenge is to maintain high standards since people will make assessments based on such accomplishments.
|Kaushik holds the CEO of The Year award trophy. [Photos: Standrd]|
Kaushik Shah, 60, defies the stereotypical Asian businessman with his down-to-earth personality. Yet, within the quiet and calm demeanour is a man entrusted with vast business interests as the CEO of Mabati Rolling Mills (MRM), the flagship company of business magnate Manu Chandaria.
This is no small feat for a man who literary grew up with the company having served it for the last 36 years. Little wonder that Kaushik is also the current CEO of the Year presented by Kenya Institute of Management.
Fluent in kikuyu
Born in Sabasaba, Murang’a County, 60 years ago, Kaushik spent his early childhood in the hilly terrain, playing with his siblings and other children while learning Kikuyu as well. At this early stage, Kaushik was thrust into the world of business, thanks to his parents who operated a wholesale business in the area for over two decades. By the time he was in Class Four, Kaushik would defy the house help and dash to the shop and help his parents with various duties.
“I still remember how Chege, the house help, would get hold of me and throw me in the bathtub when I defied his orders to shower “peacefully”. As expected, life in the countryside was quiet. We spent much of our free time playing cricket. We had forged good relationships with the locals to the point where they gave some of my family members nicknames. I still don’t know why my younger brother was nicknamed Mugochi after a local madman,” recalls Kaushik humorously.
The tranquil moments in Murang’a would be interrupted by the clamour for independence and the ensuing Mau Mau rebellion. Despite the sporadic gunfire from opposing camps, his family was well-respected in the area and escaped unscathed.
“The Kikuyus around us were friendly and considered us as part of the community. It is through them that I came to love ugali, sour milk and githeri, which are still my favourite foods,” says Kaushik.
By the time he was ten years, Kasushik’s family had moved to Nairobi where he continued with his schooling, first at Visha Oshwal Boarding School and later Eastleigh Secondary School.
Kaushik later headed to the UK after the A-Levels to pursue a course in Accountancy. He came back to Kenya in July 1976 to find his father seriously ill following a dental procedure.