Peter Mwangi, group CEO, Old Mutual Kenya
‘Meet the Boss’ is a How we made it in Africa interview series where we pose 10 questions to business leaders across the continent.
1. What was your first job?
I started my career as a lieutenant in the Kenya Air Force. The military experience was a formative experience for me.
2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
I sleep very well at night. That is mainly due to having an excellent team of colleagues whom I trust. They are capable and very determined to run all aspects of our business to very high standards.
3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
My boss at Centum, Tony Wainaina, was an excellent leader. He is still my role model.
4. What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
Be prepared to fail, but keep moving forward.
5. The top reasons why you have been successful in business?
Two reasons. The first is hard work. One has to be prepared to put in the hours. And having done that, to be patient. Results don’t usually follow as soon as we would like.
6. Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership? Business school or on the job?
I would have to say the military. But I think both business school and on-the-job training have a role. Formal training equips one with the basics of management, but the ‘learning by doing’ is invaluable.
7. How do you relax?
I love to walk. There is nothing as relaxing as a nature trail. I also enjoy listening to music.
8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?
I am not an early bird but am usually in the office by 8:30am. I prefer to work late into the night.
9. Your favourite job interview question?
I often ask candidates where they see themselves in five years. The answers are often very revealing about a person’s way of thinking about their future.
10. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?
Africa is indeed rising. There is no better place to be. I see huge opportunities over the coming decade. The only limits are our vision and our ambition.
Peter Mwangi is the Group CEO of Old Mutual Kenya, a position he took up in the last quarter of 2014. Prior to this he was the Chief Executive of Nairobi Stock Exchange and an investment manager at Centum. He is a chartered financial analyst who started his career as a lieutenant in the Kenya Air Force.