Kenya is still mourning the passing away of one of its greatest corporate figures, Bob Collymore. Bob Collymore, who was the Safaricom chief executive officer died on July 1, 2019 at his home in Nairobi. Bob Collymore Family: He was the husband of Wambui Kamiru and the father of four children. These included Wambui Kamiru’s twin daughters and his two other children.

Bob Collymore’s last wish for his wife Wambui Kamiru and kids

Below we take an in depth look at the Bob Collymore family and career profile.

Bob Collymore Family & Background

  • Date of Birth: 1958 in Guyana
  • Ethnicity:        Black American
  • Residence:      Nairobi
  • Nationality:     South American
  • Citizenship:     Kenyan American
  • Education:       Selhurst High School for Boys, London
  • Family:            Married Wambui Kamiru

Career/ Occupation: chief executive officer of Safaricom

Bob Collymore Family & Early Life:

Bob Collymore grew up in a country with vibrant culture coupled with the most beautiful sceneries that comprise of a mix of the Amazon rainforests, waterfalls and amazing wildlife. It’s at his tender age that he stated to enhance his entrepreneurial skills while still living with his grandmother. He was barely 12 years when he started earning out of making art pieces from plastacine that was sent to him by her mother who was then working in UK. He also made brooches from coconut shells and made money from the pieces of art

Milestones:

  • 1978 Joins British Telecom
  • 1993 Appointed manager of handset strategy, Cellnet
  • 1994 Becomes purchasing director, Dixons Stores Group
  • 1998 Appointed handset purchasing director, Vodafone UK; later appointed to head the group’s global handset purchasing
  • 2003 Moves to Japan to manage the integration of J-Phone into the Vodafone Group
  • 2006 Becomes governance director for Africa, Vodafone, and to boards of Vodacom Group, Safaricom and boards of several other Vodacom subsidiaries
  • 2009 Named as chief officer, corporate affairs, Vodacom
  • 2010 Appointed chief executive officer of Safaricom

Key Positions:          

  • 1978 Joins British Telecom
  • 1993 Appointed manager of handset strategy, Cellnet
  • 1994 Becomes purchasing director, Dixons Stores Group
  • 1998 Appointed handset purchasing director, Vodafone UK; later appointed to head the group’s global handset purchasing
  • 2003 Moves to Japan to manage the integration of J-Phone into the Vodafone Group
  • 2006 Becomes governance director for Africa, Vodafone, and to boards of Vodacom Group, Safaricom and boards of several other Vodacom subsidiaries
  • 2009 Named as chief officer, corporate affairs, Vodacom
  • 2010 Appointed chief executive officer of Safaricom

Role Models:

  • Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
  • Grandmother
  • Mother

Top tips for business success:

  • Be disciplined.
  • Do not fixate on past mistakes; rather, learn from them and move on.
  • Learning never stops, therefore constantly learn from those around you.
  • Believe in people and in team work.
  • Only with and through people can one be successful.

First job

I first started earning money at the age of 12 when I was still living with my grandmother in Guyana. I would make art pieces from plasticine molds sent to me by my mother who was then in the UK. I would also make little brooches from coconut shells and from these art pieces, I made some good money. Whether this was an endorsement of my talent or sympathy purchases, I can’t tell.

I landed my first ‘real’ job when I was 16. I worked in a department store in the UK, which was actually fun. I would report to work at 6 a.m. to open and would be the last to leave after sweeping and locking up the store. It was hard work and it was a long day for a 16 year old but it taught me valuable lessons that I still apply today.

Who has had the biggest impact on your career?

I wouldn’t say that any one individual has had an impact on my life really. When I think about it, I am greatly inspired by ordinary people doing extraordinary things. My grandmother for instance who took in children from the neighborhood and offered them love and affection.

My mother not only pushed me to get my first telecom job, but she also taught me a lot about the importance of resilience. And my colleagues at Safaricom who all go the extra mile every day in order to ensure Safaricom remains the crown jewel of the region’s corporate sector.

What parts of your job keep you awake?

Our customers and their satisfaction with us, our products and our service keep me awake at night. It distresses me greatly when we experience any network outages as I am extremely aware of how disrupting this is to our customers for whom our products have become an integral part of their lives.

What are the best things about your country?

I don’t really have a sense of ‘my country’. However, if you talk about Guyana or indeed anywhere in the West Indies it is the warmth and the hospitality of the people. It is also about the culture coupled with the most beautiful sceneries that comprise a mix of Amazonian rainforests, waterfalls and amazing wildlife. In a sense, it is pretty much like Kenya.

And the worst

I try not to pick holes in a country. Nowhere is perfect.

Future career plan

“At the moment, my focus is to ensure that Safaricom continues to be the provider of choice for Kenyans by enhancing the existing connection between Kenyans and the brand. As for my life after Safaricom; in an ideal situation, I would like to play a greater role in improving the health and welfare of the less fortunate. Charity work is very close to my heart having grown up with a grandmother who took it upon herself to foster neighbourhood children. Today I support a number of charity projects involving orphanages. In addition, I also hold the maternal health agenda very close to my heart and have used my various offices to champion this agenda. Nevertheless, as I have learnt from my past experiences, my plans do not mean much in the grand scheme of things. So, I wait to see what the future holds and I welcome any challenges therein.”

How do you relax?

I like flying and I read a lot. I also have a deep appreciation for the arts and music.

A message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs

Hard work and a commitment to the things that are important in life. You also have to be patient. Success is a long journey whose path is wrought with missteps, wrong decisions, discouragement, skewed plans and sometimes, failure. Be flexible; if something doesn’t work out, learn from the situation and move on.

Never stop learning. One can never be too good and opportunities for learning are everywhere. Do not take anyone for granted. Treat everyone with respect. And importantly, give back to the community.

How can Africa realize its full potential?

“Through good governance, proper management of resources and reduction of waste. I know I sound like a broken record, but this is at the heart of Africa realising her full potential.” In addition, Africa needs to look at finding local solutions for local problems. The reason why M-Pesa, for example, continues to be so successful is because we identified a gap in the financial services sector and used an existing platform – the mobile phone – to fill it.

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