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Anne Kimari a career microfinance practitioner

By BY LILLIAN KIARIE | November 11th 2013
                                          Anne Kimari


KENYA: Anne Kimari is a career microfinance practitioner, serving as the general manager of Jabali Microserve. She is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), and a member of the ACCA Global Forum for SMEs.

What is your hardest task as CEO?

There are many hard tasks that CEOs carry out, so singling out one may not be easy. However, for the purposes of this interview, I believe some of the hard tasks that one has to carry out is an honest evaluation of the resources that you have against the resources that you need against the direction you want to take the company — and make some hard decisions. This is particularly so when you have to do staff rationalisation, knowing that human capital, unlike other resources, needs particular tact.

Another situation that requires tact is when you need to guide your board in a direction that you know is the right one, but is not quite seen that way by board members. Convincing them may require more work than usual. 

What is your management style?

I am very focused on what I want to achieve, and that drives me. I will try hard not to overstep my colleagues to ensure we deliver the promise we give our clients. I also tend to be a morning person, so I have a lot of energy in the early hours to put in a lot of work. I do not like postponing what I can do today, consequently, it’s rare to find me staying out late, particularly if invited to peer events.  

What is your biggest weakness?

From what I have said in the earlier question, and from the desire to get things done right at the time we need to get it done, I believe I do tend to be rather pushy. However, I believe I am also approachable and always provide a listening ear.

What is your greatest virtue?

It’s not easy to praise yourself, but from what my peers and colleagues tell me, it is that I am dependable, trustworthy and tend to be forthright — what you see is what you get. I do not like hypocrisy or people who say things they do not mean or make promises they do not keep.

What is the worst part of your job?

Hmmm ... that’s a tough question. I would say having to tell clients that we are not able to deliver what we had originally said we could do for them. I always look for ways we can make something work; it will keep me awake at night and bother me for days on end. I generally do not like saying, “We can’t”. I believe if we think hard enough, we should find a solution.

If you are not working, what are you likely to be doing? I am a wife and a mother, so I am likely to be at home with my family, catching up with my kids on their school work and with my spouse. I am also likely to be at the gym or in an aerobics class on certain days of the week.

Something people do not know about you? I am actually an introvert. I get invited to speak to people both socially and in the course of my work, and generally those around me think I am at ease with that, but it is not always that way. Inwardly, I have to psyche myself up to do these things. 

Your worst mistake?

I will withhold my answer on that for the sake of the other party or parties concerned.

What talent do you wish you had?

I’ve always admired one of my former colleagues for the depth of insight he had that made him see well into a situation and suggest a course of action to be taken, and he was almost always right. I wish I had that kind of insight.

The most overrated virtue in business?

Aggressiveness! I think that you can still achieve in business without stepping on other people’s toes and bullying your way to get ahead.

Life’s biggest lesson? Treat others as you would have them treat you. Listen to your staff and people around you; you might find great gems in what they say.

Parting shot? Do the best you can in everything you do. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not human masters.” That way, whatever comes your way, you will at least say you gave it your all and have no regrets.

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