A conversation with Michael Mureithi, Group Head of Digital & Data at UAP Old Mutual Group (Kenya)
“One of the ways we factor our customers as we drive for innovation is by focusing on truly understanding the need of customers and the emotive drive behind it.”
Tell us a little bit about your journey to this current position as Group Head of Digital & Data. What led you onto this path of Digital Innovation?
I’m a heavy user of tech products – I have close to 200 apps on my phone. I started this journey because I truly believe that technology can solve our problems as a continent from financial inclusion to poverty to low literacy levels to high unemployment and so on to every single person in the economy. I started my journey at KPMG where I was part of the team that set up management consulting in East Africa. I’ve also been at OLX Kenya, Cheki Kenya as the CEO where I founded Timam Cars before joining UAP Old Mutual as the Group Head of Digital & Data.
“I started this journey because I truly believe that technology can solve our problems as a continent from financial inclusion to poverty to low literacy levels to high unemployment and so on to every single person in the economy.”
What are your thoughts on innovation as it is currently in Kenya?
Amazing time to be in Kenya and the greater East Africa! [The market is] educated, young, risk-taking, with the availability of disposable incomes, great skills, and amazing support from the government for innovation, along with a growing appetite from investors to invest in unproven but innovative business models.
What are your key responsibilities as the current Group Head of Digital & Data at UAP OLD Mutual Group?
3 key things:
- Leading the digital transformation for the group.
- Exploring new opportunities/ventures where the group can invest in.
- Build a really ‘smart’ group of businesses through advanced business analytics, AI, robotics, etc.
How would you define innovation based on your experiences at UAP OLD Mutual Group?
[Innovation to me is the] practical application of a new solution to an existing, hidden or future problem.
How do you handle factors that hinder innovation within your organization?
A couple of things;
- Be a great listener
- Focusing what the customer & business needs are, not what I think their needs are
- Continuous and open communication, both when we have great wins and when we make mistakes
- Identifying key enablers who can act as your advocate
- Generally…be a nice guy; someone people actually like being around.
How do you factor your users/customers as you drive for innovation at your organization?
- Continuously talking to them every day
- Being very analytical, fact-based decision-making process (numbers don’t lie).
- Focusing on truly understanding the need of customers and the emotive drive behind it.
“[One of the ways we factor our customers as we drive for innovation] is by focusing on truly understanding the need of customers and the emotive drive behind it.”
Which companies do you admire most for their approach to innovation? Can you share what caught your attention about their approach to innovation?
a. SpaceX & Tesla – their boldness; they’re high-risk takers
b. Microsoft – for their high operational excellence
c. Cellulant – created for Africans by Africans
d. Safaricom – their power of scale & great partnership.