Meet Japh, the snazzy dresser...
Posted Thursday, July 19 2012 at 18:53
Thirty years is how long Japh Olende has worked for the American subsidiary, Chartis Kenya.
He’s worked in virtually all the departments of the company, starting out as a management trainee in the finance department to his current position as MD.
He was there when the company was Alico Kenya, when it rebranded to AIG Kenya, and now he’s at the high table as the chief. He knows how every cog of the company turns.
I interviewed him in 2009 and three years later, the one thing that seems to have remained a constant is his hairpin sense of style. Japh, an impeccable dresser, admits to taking extra care on how he dresses, and it shows when we meet for this interview.
Behind him, on a coat rack, hangs a snazzy jacket from which a golden handkerchief sticks out of the breast pocket, it matches his gold-stripped tie. From his wrist and fingers, gleams gold jewellery.
Expensive cologne hangs in the air.
At the turn of the century, a neologism was introduced by the fashion aficionados; metrosexual. Are you acquainted with that word, Japh?
(Amused) No. I’m afraid not.
It basically means a man who goes beyond just taking a bath and combing his hair. We are talking pedicures, massages and what not. I submit that you are that man.
(Laughs) Okay. Good clothes are my weakness. I just don’t dress up for the sake of it; I take my time picking my clothes. My being smart is a natural thing; I won many awards throughout my schooling days as the best-dressed student.
How long do you take to dress up?
I take a while, an hour maybe? I hate to rush through dressing up, I use some of my dressing and shaving time to think. Business ideas come from those moments. There is a joke at the club that I take too long showering after playing around of golf, I find people well into their drinks by the time I join them.
Where do you shop?
I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought anything locally. I buy all my clothes abroad; the States is a great place to buy shoes.
You must spend a lot on clothes.
I love good suits; I spend a lot on those.
I have maybe 10 good regular ones. I like to match my suits with my socks, shoes and belts. But I also spend a lot on family, to make them happy. Family is big. I also have charities I’m supporting, some three schools I support in my village. I pay school fees for my relatives’ orphaned children . So you see, it doesn’t all end in suits (smiles).
What are your other interests away from this desk?
I’m a sugarcane farmer and I also do some fish farming in Kusa, Nyakach. My home is about five-minutes walk from Lake Victoria (smiles).