1. What was your first job?
I joined the microfinance industry as a loan officer. That was in 2003. It was memorable. I keep telling my loan officers, I don’t enjoy being a CEO as much as I enjoyed my time as a loan officer. This is because I like adding value to the lives of people I serve and spending time with people in the rural areas.
2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
Thinking about how I can deliver a more robust financial service to my clients in the most efficient and customer-centric way. Being able to continuously make customers happy.
3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
My very first CEO when I was employed as a loan officer. His name is Kimanthi Mutua, the founding MD of Sidan Bank and founder of K-Rep Bank Limited. He is a microfinance guru in Kenya and he influenced me into dedicating my entire life to microfinance because he also had passion for it.
I was impacted by the way he was able to convert a small NGO microfinance institution into a regulated commercial bank specialising in microfinance. He was able to pass that vision down to everybody, including myself, and he was also able to articulate the impact of microfinance in our economy, especially in rural communities. As an employee just starting his career, the impact he had on me was quite substantial.
4. What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
Push your boss higher. Do the job your boss has given you exceptionally well so that his performance is seen to be extremely good. While you may not get the credit, you will grow in other ways. Make sure you deliver on behalf of your boss.
5. The top reasons why you have been successful in business?
Hard work, dedication and passion to work, as well as the desire to do good to the people I serve.
6. Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership? Business school or on the job?
You will get the best leadership skills on the job by observing and learning from leaders within your organisation and other organisations. This will complement what you have learnt from the business school. For instance, what I got from the classes I attended was a reinforcement of what I have seen in Kimanthi Mutua and other people I have worked with, including great leaders who have been successful in their own merits.
7. How do you relax?
Spending time with my family and kids is my greatest source of relaxation. I am also an Arsenal fan, so switching between family and football brings me down to earth.
8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?
I am an early person and I am an evening person – so I work in two extremes. My day starts from 6.30 in the morning up to late morning and then late in the evening. So in between the day [in the afternoon], I do things that keep me running. I am more productive early in the morning and late in the evening.
9. Your favourite job interview question?
What I like asking my staff or officers is what value they would bring to the organisation. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? This is because I don’t need someone who can do a job that can be done by anybody. I need someone who can add value to me.
10. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?
For me, it’s all about working hard and working smart. If I can grow from just being a loan officer to a CEO in a span of 13 years, the sky is the limit for you. I set a target for myself to be a CEO in 10 years and I have been able to achieve that despite slight barriers. This shows that if you set a high standard and you work towards it, you will be able to achieve your goal.
Stanley Munyao is the CEO of Musoni Kenya, a cashless and paperless microfinance institution based in Nairobi.