KCB raids NCBA in talent war triggered by Safaricom

John Okulo, the new KCB Group director for corporate banking. PHOTO | COURTESY | KCB

KCB Bank Kenya has appointed John Okulo as the director for corporate banking, effective June 5, in a talent war that telco giant Safaricom triggered in February.

Mr Okulo, a seasoned banker with 24 years of experience, joins KCB from NCBA bank, where he was serving in a similar position.

“We are excited to have John to spearhead the continued growth of our corporate banking franchise as we seek to catalyse the country’s growth agenda,” said Annastacia Kimtai, managing director at KCB Bank Kenya.

Mr Okulo is replacing Esther Masese Waititu, who had held this position since 2021 but joined Safaricom in February 2023 as the chief financial services officer.

Ms Waititu’s exit from KCB triggered a talent war that has seen the lender headhunt Mr Okulo, who has been at CBA, since July 2011, before its merger with NIC to form NCBA in 2019.

Mr Okulo previously worked as a chief commercial officer at Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), managing director at NC Bank Uganda and head of corporate and investment banking at Stanbic Bank Uganda, among other roles.

He holds a Master of Science in Economics from the University of Gdansk, Poland and several global and local certifications.

Mr Okulo started his banking career in 1997 as a Standard Chartered Bank Kenya management trainee.

He now joins KCB’s corporate banking division, which offers a suite of financial products and services targeted at mid-to-large-sized corporates and public sector entities.

KCB re-organised its corporate banking into sectoral lines of manufacturing, industrials, infrastructure and energy, financial services, and the public sector to drive technical and financial leadership.

Last year, the KCB Group corporate banking unit more than doubled its net profit from Sh8.7 billion to Sh17.9 billion to overtake retail banking as the second top profit-earner for the lender.

The net profit from corporate banking accounted for 43.8 percent of the Sh40.8 billion net earnings generated by KCB Group in the financial year ended December 2022.

Net earnings from retail banking slowed from Sh15.6 billion to Sh13.35 as net earnings from treasury rose 52 percent to Sh31.2 billion.

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