‘Meet the Boss’ is a How we made it in Africa interview series where we pose the same 10 questions to business leaders across the continent.
Bruce Howe, general manager, Nokia East Africa
1. What was your first job?
I was a gas station attendant at BP, actually they called me a petroleum transfer assistant. It was in New Zealand. They paid me 6 New Zealand dollars an hour. That was in 1989.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
My dad. He was in the corporate field and travelled the world for 25 years as an expat. That is exactly what I am doing.
3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
Wow … these are deep questions … That my children will appreciate the life they live. I have got one boy who is five and has lived in four countries. I wonder what that will mean for him.
4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?
I am a New Zealander and we love sports. I seriously like to win. So maybe my competitiveness. I also like to have a giggle. If you can’t laugh at life then you are missing the point.
5. What are the best things about your country?
The All Blacks. That was easy. Do you know who the All Blacks are? They are the world champions of rugby.
6. And the worst?
The distance from here, it is so far away.
7. Your future career plans?
Live in Kenya as long as I can because I have a tendency to move countries too often. We are looking to spend some years here. It’s a great business, great people.
8. How do you relax?
I like to run, but not as quickly as some people run here. I play a lot of sports: tennis, squash, basketball; and I hang out with my three kids.
9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
Try new things. I think the entrepreneurial spirit here is amazing. Everybody is looking to get into some sort of business. The spirit needs to be fostered. Young people here are brilliant and have great ideas.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
Our industry plays a huge part in Africa’s long-term growth and potential. The investment from operators in 3G and LTE technology will enable connectivity, which means people can do things much easier.