The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) employee who fell 17 floors to his death last weekend had suffered three work-related burn outs in the last two years including one where he fell asleep in the middle of a presentation.
The Saturday Standard has established that Stephen Mumbo worked so hard that on the day he died, he had left the office at 1:30am and was back at his desk 6:30am.
He was also prone to emotional disturbance so much so that when his mother died five years ago, he took a year’s unpaid leave to mourn her. Now, with the police having concluded that he committed suicide, the difficult part is determining why a man with a high flying career decided to jump to kill himself.
What we know however is that sometime in October, 2016, Mumbo who had worked at PwC for 13 years had such a mental breakdown that he walked out on his boss. “They plied him with so much work, and he wasn’t the type to decline, so he did it anyway. He was always very well groomed, but always tired,” said a relative.
Mid last year, an employee who talked to us said that Mumbo fell asleep in the middle of a presentation with a client. “He was totally burned out, but his bosses simply told him to go to another board room and sleep for some time then get back to work,” said the employee.
The employee said that Mumbo who was a civil engineer by training was not only laid back but a perfectionist.
“He would rather be late with a client’s report, than bring in a report which had a comma in the wrong place. He wasn’t just careful with figures, but with grammar too. He was a perfectionist,” recalled the employee.
Sources said Mumbo arrived at his 12th floor office which he shared with some colleagues at about 6:15am last Friday. He had left his house at Pangani Palace Apartments located next to the Muthaiga roundabout shortly before 6am leaving behind his wife and adopted daughter.
When he arrived at work four of his colleagues were already in the office. The deceased had been placed in charge of an auditing project for a cement manufacturing company whose financial books were in the red.
At some point, between 7.30am and 7.40am, Mumbo called his divisions head’s personal assistant asking for a meeting room since he was supposed to meet some clients at 9am. He was allocated a room five floors above. He left his jacket draped on his chair, and carried his laptop to the 17th floor.
The 17th floor meeting room dubbed Kilimanjaro 2 can accommodate up to 150 people in a town hall setting or 60 people in a conference setting. It is yet to be established whether the deceased was alone in the conference room when he fell.
Mumbo’s immediate boss George Weru has declined to comment for this story.
“No, no, no, I would not wish to say anything about this issue. The boss, Mr Ngahu, issued a press statement and held a press conference on the matter last Friday,” he said.
Stay informed. Subscribe to our newsletter
Peter Ngahu, is PwC’s regional senior partner and country senior partner.
However Caleb Etyang who studied with the deceased at St Paul’s Amukura said he was quiet and kept to himself.
“He wasn’t a guy to go for sports or drama outings, he was much more at home in the school and the library,” he said.
Odeo Sirari, KTN news editor, who was in Form One when Mumbo was in his final year in 1996 said he was reserved.
“He was a total book worm. He had spectacles, and always looked like he was destined for greater things,” Sirari said.
His suicide has sparked a debate on whether working overtime can threaten the mental health of an employee.
Psychologist Faith Atsango says work related stress should be classified as safety hazard.
“People in high pressure jobs are prone to mental breakdown, and such incidents should be treated as physical health and safety issues at work.
“If you work in a factory, you are provided with safety gear, so if you work in a high stress environment, the company should find a way to ease burnout and help its employees in case of work related stress,” she said.