Anthony Kamau is the head of business banking at Bank of Africa, Kenya. The banker with more than 15 years of experience shares his career path with Sunday Nation.
Briefly tell us about yourself.
Anthony is a very simple man, a family man and a banker with experience spanning more than 15 years in different roles.
Tell us about your childhood and educational background.
I guess I’m what they would call a “true Kenyan” since I have lived my childhood and schooled in various parts of the country. I have lived in Nyeri County, Taita Taveta County, Mombasa County and Makueni County.
I went to school in Makueni County, to be precise in Mtito Andei and Kibwezi Townships for my primary school, before proceeding to Maseno School in Kisumu County. While at Maseno School, I noticed Maseno University and fell in love with it, so that is where I went for my undergraduate studies.
Share with us your career journey.
My career journey started with a brief lecturing stint at Kisumu Polytechnic, a stint with an NGO before I found myself in the banking industry. My first job in the banking industry was at Kibwezi as a business development officer. I only took up the job after being pushed to it by my elder sister (thank you Mercy!) but a role that gave me the motivation to pursue banking as a career.
Initially, my mind was cast on being an entrepreneur. Maybe that explains me passion for supporting MSMEs. I rose through the ranks to become a branch manage and later a regional manager.
I’m currently the head of business banking at Bank of Africa, Kenya. The role confers on me the responsibility of providing strategic leadership to staff in all branches in the country.
Bank of Africa is very keen on supporting MSMEs. I work closely with other BOA subsidiaries in Africa and other parts of the world and through these synergies facilitate platforms to scale up the MSMEs.
With the industry shake up from time to time, and interruptions, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the journey has obviously not been smooth-sailing.
What are the fondest memories of your career journey thus far?
Happened with my current employer, Bank of Africa. One time a client who had incurred a huge medical bill in hospital for his wife approached us for support. Unfortunately, the wife had passed on but the hospital could not release the body for burial before the bill was paid. I’m forever grateful that Bank of Africa intervened and promptly supported the client financially to give a good send-off to his beloved wife.
What has been a key driver of your growth? Lessons learnt, celebrations and failures?
The desire to see clients happy and satisfied is my key driver. There is a sense of conquest when you provide solutions to customers and surpass their expectations. I have learnt that celebrating small wins somehow provides a pathway to greater victories. Stop at every win, however small, appreciate yourself and the team, then focus on the next win. Oh, and failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.
Who would you single out for being instrumental in your career growth?
My wife Leah. She’s my ride or die, my support system. The best gift in life is to have a wife who believes in your vision, and supports you to make them a reality. I have that.
My mom and my late dad also moulded me on matters integrity and hard work.
My colleagues at the work place have continuously challenged me and thus shaped me to the person I am today.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in life?
The moment I summited Mt Kenya, not for fun, but for a worthy cause, to create awareness for Epilepsy. Little is known about Epilepsy, and therefore enduring the difficult climb to tell the world about this condition remains my greatest feat.
Key decisions you might have taken along your career journey?
Supporting Arsenal… oh, the heartbreaks! Anyway, I have taken up challenges that were considered almost impossible and by God’s grace succeeded in them. Earlier on in my career, I took up management of a branch that was considered very difficult to run. Being my first engagement as branch manager, most people advised me that I was committing “career suicide” by taking up that specific branch. I however took it up and the rest, as they say, is history.
What would you advise the youth in Kenya today?
Honesty is the best policy. Integrity is a key ingredient to your success. Do not compare your path with anyone else.
What do you do for fun?
Oh, I hiking. I also climb mountains. There is something about conquering hills and mountains. Besides providing that therapeutic feeling as you breath clean air and cross very unpolluted rivers, every conquest reinforces the fact that every difficult situation can be overcome. I also do a bit of bird watching.
If there was one thing you could change about your past, what would that be?
While in campus, I was deeply involved in peer counseling and I saw a lot of lives change from these sessions. Once out of campus, this somehow fizzled out. If I could turn the hand of time I would have sustained this, even while working. I’m considering joining youth mentorship programmes to pursue this cause.
Future plans in your career and in life?
From a Bank of Africa perspective, I plan to extend my sphere of direct influence to Africa, considering that we already have the infrastructure (read BOA subsidiaries) by providing innovative solutions to MSMEs across Africa as a base for their scaling up.