Safaricom appoints a GlaxoSmithKline manager to head its innovation unit

Safaricom Chief Business Development Officer Debra Mallowah.
Safaricom has appointed a GlaxoSmithKline manager Debra Mallowah to its top executive suit as part of its management changes that has seen the telco create positions of ‘Chief Officers.’

The firm’s chief executive Bob Collymore said Ms Mallowah will hold the new position of Chief Business Development Officer, and will officially join the firm January 2, 2019.

Mr Joe Ogutu the Chief Special Projects Officer, will hold the role in an interim capacity until she reports, the firm said.

“As a member of the Executive Committee and reporting directly to me, Debra will be responsible for preparing Safaricom for the future, harnessing new business opportunities and leading innovation,” Mr Collymore said.

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She will take over responsibility for Alpha, Safaricom’s innovation unit and will lead any geographical expansion opportunities including merges and acquisitions.  

The appointment now makes her one of the most powerful women at Safaricom and comes at a time when the firm is doing its succession planning.

She will also be responsible for developing the company’s strategic direction will also lead the new Knowledge Management team including Research as well as Insights and Big Data.

Ms Mallowah joins Safaricom from GlaxoSmithKline where she was the General Manager - Eastern Africa with responsibility for eight markets in the region.

She is described as a seasoned broad based professional with roles that have included Vice President for Unilever for the Personal Care Division, Africa and Group Marketing & Innovations Director in Diageo East Africa.

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This comes at a time when the firm has been on an innovation spree, looking for other ideas that will drive its future business.

“Debra joins us at a critical time in Safaricom’s journey as we seek to reduce our dependency on traditional telecom revenue and explore a more diverse range of opportunities to serve our customers and grow shareholder value,” Collymore added. 

The new organisational structure has seen the positions of chief officers created, with the appointees now handling redistributed portfolios as well as new roles designed to aid the company in its efforts to embrace a data-driven, insights-led, customer-obsessed approach to business.

In the new structure, Sylvia Mulinge, formerly the Director of Special Projects, becomes the Chief Customer Officer. In this new role Ms Mulinge will oversee all activities relating to customer engagement, including: Consumer Business, Sales Operations, Customer Service, Brand Marketing & Experience, Digital and Market Development.

The two will report to Chief Executive Officer, Bob Collymore, and will form the new Executive Committee alongside: Sateesh Kamath (Chief Financial Officer), Steve Chege (Chief Corporate Affairs Officer), Joe Ogutu (Chief Special Projects Officer), Nicholas Mulila (Chief Corporate Security Officer), Paul Kasimu (Chief Human Resources Officer), Rita Okuthe (Chief Enterprise Business Officer), Thibaud Rerolle (Chief Technology Officer) and Sitoyo Lopokoiyit (Chief Financial Services Officer).  

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SafaricomGlaxoSmithKlineDebra MallowahBob CollymoreChief Business Development Officer