About Martin

Born into the era of missionaries, Martin was quickly absorbed into the religious mainstream at an early age. His determination and aptitude saw his youthful evolution taking shape fast and admirably but like any child instinctively prone to mischief, an innocent mutter led to a swift change in tide that saw him pitted amongst some of the country future great minds and surviving some of the society as worst inhabitants...



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I am honored to have the opportunity to share with this distinguished audience my thoughts and experiences on leadership and governance.

I would like to begin by paying tribute to the organizers of this conference for your efforts to create a platform for engagement with Kenyans in Diaspora. Kenyans in Diaspora are a very important extension of our country overseas. At three million, Kenyans abroad make roughly 9% of the country’s population; and contribute immensely to our development agenda.

Let me say at the outset that I have been privileged to work in both the private sector and Government at senior levels. In these roles, I have interacted with Kenyans in diaspora in Johannesburg, London, New York, Washington DC and Tokyo among other cities, not to mention the capitals within the East African Region. I have also worked as a member of the diaspora briefly in South Africa in the early 2000s. I would therefore like to draw from these experiences in this brief reflection. I recall that during this period, interactions always focused on questions around the viability of Kenya over the long term as a stable country politically, economically and socially. I remained the eternal optimist in these discussions – I must say my position has not changed, despite the challenges we continue to face as a nation.

Many of you will know that I worked briefly in Government between 1999 and 2001. As Permanent Secretary in the Treasury, I was part of what was christened the ‘Dream Team’ and the agenda at the time was to reform institutions and processes for recovery and growth. The political and economic environment was extremely difficult, but we were able to set the foundation for many of the reforms that came to fruition in later years. The 2010 Constitution and the Vision 2030 blue print have set us in a very good place to build a just and progressive society. However reform and development do not happen overnight. Strong, capable and committed leadership is required and our electoral process is important in shaping this. Fast forward, I became Deputy CEO and then CEO of KCB Group (Kenya Commercial Bank) between 2005 and 2012. This is a bank, which was on its deathbed around year 2000 largely due to poor governance, but in recent years has become the region’s largest and most profitable commercial bank.

I led KCB during a time of a major transformation that was aimed at repositioning it for competitiveness and profitability. The transformation was not for the brand but also for the bank’s internal culture and value system as well as good governance. This transformation did a number of things for the bank including increasing shareholder value with market capitalization for the bank reaching an all-time high. One of my proudest achievements however is the high standard of leadership and governance that KCB has put in place over the years and which has set it on a sustainable path to greatness.

Since leaving KCB over the past 4 years, I have spent a lot of time working with various companies on strengthening their leadership and governance. During my time as a partner at Deloitte East Africa, I worked with local and multinational companies across the Region in the areas of governance, leadership and strategy development and implementation. The link between these three makes the difference between successful and failed institutions and indeed countries. I now run the Leadership Group where I am an executive coach. I am engaged in working with board members from companies across the region to strengthen their leadership and governance practices.

Today, Corporate Governance is an inevitable topic of discussion in boardrooms, academic round-tables, and for policy makers worldwide. Globally there have been more governance changes occurring in the last few years than in the last generation. Several events are responsible for this heightened interest. The wave of financial crises of 1998 in the US, Russia, Asia and Brazil, affected their entire economies and deficiencies in corporate governance endangered the stability of the global financial system. Corporate governance failures in United States and Europe caused some of the largest insolvencies in history. In the aftermath of these events, economists, the corporate sector and the policy makers worldwide recognized the potential long-term consequences of weak corporate governance systems, hence some of the draconian measures adopted in the US through the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. Locally, the past two years have seen corporate failures attributed to corporate governance malpractices resulting in significant loses to the investing public – including the Kenyans in the diaspora.

Why is this relevant to this forum?

The Kenya diaspora is a significant player in this economy and must be intimately interested in its governance and leadership. Kenyans in the diaspora contributed a record $1.6 billion (Sh163 billion) in remittances, in 2015 according to the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Fact book 2016. This is a significant amount by any standard, and provides legitimacy for a say in the country’s social and economic affairs, including equal opportunities for investment and in shaping the country’s future and its governance. Because corporate governance is primarily about structures, processes and disciplined decision-making and execution, it is inevitable that social norms and national culture play a crucial role. When a country’s overall governance is weak, voluntary and market corporate governance mechanisms have more limited effectiveness.

In the corporate sector, boards are now under intense pressure and scrutiny to get it right. The Board is not only accountable to the company and its shareholders but also has a duty to act in their best interests. In addition, Boards are expected to take due regard of, and deal fairly with, other stakeholder interests including those of
employees, creditors, customers, suppliers and local communities. The newly enacted Code of Corporate Governance by the Capital Markets Authority has raised the bar for the Boards in Kenya. The new concepts introduced in the code include - increased diversity, enhanced disclosure norms, performance evaluation of boards and directors, sustainability of business; including internal financial controls and risk management as apart of oversight of the Boards, enhancing the protection for minority shareholders, providing for investor protection and a better framework for regulation and thus strengthening the foundations of good governance in Kenyan companies.

If I look at the public sector, Kenya today is at crossroads where issues of corruption and lack of inclusivity occupy most of our attention as citizens. Poverty continues to rise and the youth remain restless. National values as set out in Chapter 6 of the Constitution makes for good reading, but have limited application in practice. Indeed the Aga Khan University conducted a research on these values among the youth earlier this year. The results were chilling: majority of the youth did not see much value in hard work, but rather saw corruption as a rewarding and profitable activity worth emulating. This is a reflection our society and leadership. Corruption has reached endemic levels and looting of public coffers is the norm for many in positions of leadership in both national and county governments. The private sector bears its share of blame as well. All this flies in the face of good accountable leadership and governance. By drawing from best practice in their countries of residence, Kenyans in diaspora need to voice their concerns and call for swift and consistent action. By creating a mechanism for sharing observations on business leadership practices abroad with local business partners, Kenya will become increasingly open to global business thinking which will influence the strategic direction of your investment in the country. As shareholders, you should also demand to be involved in creating the policies and regulations that govern the businesses you invest in. This will enable the creation of strong governance systems that ensure greater accountability and stringent reporting requirements. Make time to engage actively in the forums for Kenyans in your resident countries as well. The world is in turmoil today, and leadership, as we know it is being challenged to innovate and respond in new ways for the sake of posterity. Corporate collapses over the last ten years and the subsequent increased demand for continuous improvement and transparency in the boardroom have heightened the pace of change for boards worldwide.

Good corporate governance is needed to create a business environment of trust, transparency and accountability in order to support investment, financial stability and sustainable economic growth. In the global and highly interconnected world of business and finance where money and corporate operations constantly cross borders, creating trust is something that we need to do together. Through creation of leadership engagement platforms like the Leadership Group which I run, we can get more current and aspiring leaders to take their practices to the next level and indeed, improve the leadership and governance standards of our corporate and government institutions towards world class status.

In conclusion, I know that you have attended many conferences in your time, however this one could be different if you all resolve and make a commitment to position yourselves as a starting point for ensuring that the Kenyan diaspora community contributes to a Kenyan society that is sustainable over the long term. Your role in mentoring the youth in good citizenship will make Kenya the success we all aspire it to be.

What have I been up to?

Some people tell me I have been very quiet over the past year…..so let me update you on what I have been upto…….

I moved out of my role as Partner and Financial Services Leader at Deloitte East Africa to that of Independent Business Advisor from beginning of January 2016. At the same time I set up The Leadership Group Limited as the brand under which I would provide Executive Coaching, Leadership development and Board practice services including Corporate Governance training.

It has been a very exciting year, that has included consulting for corporates on strategy development and execution, facilitation of CEO roundtables on financial sector development; leading investor groups searching for merger & acquisition opportunities, working with a number of county governments on economic development, leadership and communications programs; giving key note speeches at local and international conferences, including the Afreximbank Annual Meeting in Ivory Coast, at the launch of Percy Opio’s Future of Banking; at the Engage Forum run by Don and Agatha; at various leadership programs at SBS, KIM and in Washington DC; I have been a Judge at the Inaugural Sustainable Finance Catalyst Award scheme for banks and Fintech groups and have continued to participate effectively at Sunny Bindra’s Fast Forward Leadership events

I got my accreditation as an Executive Coach through AoEC early in 2016 and have so far rolled out my coaching program, focusing on CEOs and other C-Suite executives. This is a relatively underdeveloped practice in our part of the world, but one that has immense benefits, given the challenge of leadership in our midst. It has been a hugely rewarding experience, discussing leadership challenges and opportunities through my executive coaching and mentoring sessions and this will continue over the coming years as the realization grows in leaders for this critical offering.

Another area of interest is the rollout of the CMA Code of Corporate Governance for Issuers of Securities to the Public (2015). This code comes into effect in March 2017. I have attended a number of training sessions, including a Training of Trainers and the ICPSK Governance Accreditation program, in addition to CMA mandated programs for Board directors. I am now offering advisory services in this area as well.

Amidst all this I joined a number of blue chip company boards, such as Standard Bank Group; EABL; BAT Kenya in addition to my continuing board roles in SOS International Senate and GA Life Assurance. I find that this active engagement with boards continues to keep me in touch with the corporate world and local as well as international developments; it also gives a practical angle to the coaching, leadership development and corporate governance services I offer my clients.

2017 has started on a high, so far I have run a number of coaching, leadership development and governance assignments; attended mouthwatering talks by giants such as Brett King (The Future is Digital) and John Kay (Other People’s Money) which was a sequel to Financial Services Roundtable discussions with CEOs and Regulators; as well as Sunny Bindra’s FFWD Leadership BS discussion; PLO Lumumba’s keynote address at the ICPSK Governance Roundtable; CMA’s Board workshop on the CG Code and the TED Partners dinner ahead of the TED Ideas Search Events at CUEA.

Finally last week we at The Leadership Group launched our Leadership and Communications Program at a well attended corporate roundtable at the Capital Club. We also joined the GCX Africa and MK Africa roadshows on Sustainability, meeting a number of listed company senior executives to discuss how together we can support them in putting together an effective ESG framework and rolling this out as part of their Sustainability agenda, including embedding Integrated Reporting in their program.

So what does 2017 look like?

1. Executive Coaching and more and more of it
2. Lots of guest speaking slots as well as being program leader for the 2017 Leading the Board Program at Strathmore Business School
3. Collaboration with Agakhan Media University on Leadership & Communications programs
4. Corporate Leadership & Communications development programs
5. Board development, especially on implementation of the CMA Code of Corporate Governance and conducting Governance Audits
6. Business Advisory, especially on Strategy development and execution

So do look out for my monthly updates on these and many more during 2017.

Martin Oduor-Otieno makes comeback at EABL’s boardroom.

Former KCB chief executive Martin Oduor-Otieno has rejoined East African Breweries as a non-executive director, a position he quit after a short stint in 2013 following his appointment as a partner at Deloitte East Africa, which posed a potential conflict of interest.

Mr Oduor-Otieno, who is best known in corporate Kenya for his role as the KCB Group chief executive between 2007 and 2012, took up the EABL position on Tuesday.
“The Board of EABL is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Oduor-Otieno as a non-executive director of the board effective May 24,” said the brewer’s chairman Charles Muchene in a statement.

The former banker was first appointed an EABL director in February 2013, but he quit after six months when Deloitte enlisted him as a partner to offer advisory services in the financial sector.

Mr Oduor-Otieno early this year exited Deloitte to take up a new position as a non-executive director of South Africa’s Standard Bank Group, the largest lender on the continent by assets.
This move has now allowed EABL to engage him afresh in the regional brewer as they seek to tap his managerial experience in both the public and private sectors.

This appointment is the third change that EABL is making to its 12-member board over the past year. The brewer is 50.02 per cent owned by UK multinational Diageo.

On April 27 the regional brewer announced that Joyce Menene had replaced Ruth Ngobi as its company secretary, a position the latter had held for three years.

Carol Musyoka, a financial consultant and columnist with the Business Daily, was last September appointed to the brewer’s board alongside György Geiszl, the EABL’s group finance director.

Nick Blazquez, the former Diageo president for Africa, is slated to leave the EABL board at the end of June. He will be exiting the UK brewer altogether after serving for 27 years. This is the vacancy that Mr Oduor-Otieno will essentially fill.

Mr Oduor-Otieno has previously worked with Barclays Bank of Kenya, British American Tobacco and also as the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance. He joined Standard Bank Group’s Board on Jan 1.

Since Deloitte South Africa, an affiliate of the local consultancy firm, offers some business advisory services to Standard Bank the banker quit the local position once again due to the potential for conflict of interest.

He remains an independent adviser of Deloitte East Africa.

Mr Oduor-Otieno holds a BCom degree from the University of Nairobi, an Executive MBA degree from the ESAMI/Maastritch Business School, and is a fellow of both the Kenya Institute of Bankers and Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya.

Central counties gearing up to common trading bloc

Plans are at an advanced stage to bring together former Central province counties and Nakuru to form a trade block.
Nyandarua County could soon team up with nearby counties for trade, a financial expert has said. Addressing the Third Annual Devolution Conference in Mombasa,Dr Martin Oduor-Otieno, Partner in Deloitte East Africa (DEA) and Senior Advisor in the Financial Services Industry (FSI) group, said this will enhance service delivery since the counties will be working as a team in terms of resource sharing.

''We are hoping governors from the interested counties – including Nyandarua - can sign founding documents on February 29. We are looking at 10 counties in all,'' he said. The Aberdares and Mt Kenya region, he said, is fast catching up with trading blocs already set up by counties in other parts of Kenya, which have found them useful for economic growth. ''We are seeing counties use these blocs to catalyze and co-ordinate development across several regions, in addition to co-operation around contentious issues,'' he said. DEA, he added, was helping county blocs in research and analysis, blue-print development and implementation.

Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2000192688/central-count...

Oduor-Otieno leaves Deloitte to become director of Standard Bank.

Former KCB chief executive Martin Oduor-Otieno has retired as a partner at Deloitte East Africa to take up a new role as a non-executive director of South Africa’s Standard Bank Group, the largest lender on the continent by assets.

The move is the latest appointment for Mr Oduor-Otieno, who is best known in corporate Kenya for his role as the chief executive of KCB Group between 2007 and 2012.

He joined Deloitte East Africa in May 2013, specialising in advisory services in the financial sector—including banking.

“I retired from my Deloitte partnership to take up the Standard Bank appointment to avoid potential conflict of interest. It is the global professional practice,” said Mr Oduor-Otieno in an interview.

He said that Deloitte South Africa, an affiliate of the local consultancy firm, offers some business advisory services to Standard Bank hence the potential for conflict of interest.

Avoidance of conflict of interest also saw Mr Oduor-Otieno relinquish directorships at NSE-listed beer maker East African Breweries and cigarette producer BAT Kenya after becoming a partner at Deloitte.

Mr Oduor-Otieno said he will however remain an independent adviser of Deloitte East Africa.

READ: Oduor-Otieno quits as BAT Kenya director

The Standard Bank appointment is seen as a move by the multinational to tap his experience in the financial services industry.

“He has extensive experience in diverse financial and leadership roles including being the previous chief executive officer of Kenya Commercial Bank Group,” said Standard Bank’s chairman Thulani Gcabashe in a statement.

At Standard Bank, Mr Oduor-Otieno will be part of a team driving the strategy of a conglomerate with total assets of Sh13 trillion and interests in banking and insurance around the world.

Its subsidiaries include the Nairobi Securities Exchange- (NSE) traded CfC Stanbic Holdings and Liberty Holdings where it has controlling stakes.

Mr Oduor-Otieno, 59, holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting from the University of Nairobi and an Executive MBA from ESAMI/Maastricht Business School.

He is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Programme and holds an Honorary Doctorate of Business Leadership from KCA University.

Mr Oduor-Otieno was part of the “Dream Team” appointed by president Moi in 1999 to help turn around the economy.

The 'Oduor-Otieno effect' should become contagious

At 57, Martin Oduor-Otieno has joined Deloitte as a senior advisor. He has also joined EABL and BAT boards after leading KCB to phenomenal growth beyond our borders. He was previously a permanent Secretary in the dream team cobbled together by retired President Moi to turn the economy around.

Why should someone who should be thinking about retirement by Kenyan standard be heading to boardrooms?


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