Safaricom on Wednesday unveiled a new management structure, banking on closer ties with customers to maintain pole position in the highly competitive mobile telephone market.
But while the new line-up retained much of its top talent, Safaricom warned that it was embarking on a review of its middle-level managers — currently the company’s largest population.
“We want a leaner team and starting next week will embark on looking at people and budgets. This will be a very quick process,” said Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO.
The development marks a turning point for the firm as it enters its second decade by placing key decisions with line managers rather than centralising power within the CEO’s office, as had previously been the case.
The managers will be expected to meet a new job parameter — the Customer Delight Index — that measures how successful their role has been in endearing the firm to consumers.
Safaricom has realigned its talent into three main groups: Enterprise, covering the growing IT services segment; Consumer, representing the its core telephony and data business; and the Financial Services division which encompasses the growing M-Pesa segment.
The reshuffle will see the exit of two key managers - Robert Mugo and John Barorot - from the firm’s technical nerve centre, setting the stage for a hunt for new talent to fill the much coveted Chief Technical Officer position.
Peter Arina, formerly the firm’s Chief Commercial Officer, will head the Consumer pillar, while Betty Mwangi, formerly head of new products, will lead the Financial Services division, capitalizing on her experience growing the M-Pesa brand.
Rounding out the list of the new lineup is Nzioka Waita, now Director, Legal Regulatory and External Affairs and whose profile since his start in the company’s legal department has been on the rise.
He will now take on new responsibilities that will see him emerge as a key leader in the firm.
Chris Tiffin, a Vodafone employee, will remain CFO, while Joe Ogutu will retain his Directorship of Resources.
Including the CTO position, the developments means Safaricom is now hunting for four new recruits who will spearhead the Enterprise Division, Marketing and Executive Business Analyst positions.
The creation of a new Marketing director position will see Head of Marketing Wangari Murugu report to a new divisional head, while Claire Ruto, a high profile recruit that the firm snatched from its then rival Zain, will now report to Mr Waita.
Mr Collymore said he expected finding talent for the marketing position would be most difficult, adding that alongside the technical position, these appointments were the most urgent.
Significantly, Wednesday's announcement comes days before the company closes its books for the financial year, providing an indicator of the company’s strategic focus in the years ahead.
Analysts note that the company is currently undergoing its most comprehensive restructuring programme yet as it attempts to find the right mix of factors to protect it in the next phase of the sector’s growth.