Man about town

Innovation life begins at 41 for EABL's Anne-Joy

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Anne-Joy Michira, the new EABL innovation and marketing director in East Africa. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • If this week’s appointment of Anne-Joy Michira as director of marketing and innovation for East Africa at East African Breweries Limited was an endorsement of her leadership, it could not have been more opportune.
  • Within Diageo Global, East Africa is ranked as one of the 30 most competitive beverage markets in the world.
  • As such, the job for the finance graduate from the University of Nairobi is well cut out for her. But Anne-Joy is taking things in her stride.

If this week’s appointment of Anne-Joy Michira as director of marketing and innovation for East Africa at East African Breweries Limited was an endorsement of her leadership, it could not have been more opportune.

Anne-Joy took up the role in the same week EABL was celebrating its 100th birthday, placing her at the centre of innovation as the business looks to venture into new avenues and to remain relevant in the next 100 years.

While it was flattering, the appointment was not surprising to her.

She says the elevation is the culmination of a 10-year plan that she drafted at 30. ‘‘I wanted to rise to this role by the time I was 40, but I missed the goal”. She is 41.

Within Diageo Global, East Africa is ranked as one of the 30 most competitive beverage markets in the world.

As such, the job for the finance graduate from the University of Nairobi is well cut out for her. But Anne-Joy is taking things in her stride.

Says she: ‘‘To be a leader, you must deliver results. I thrive in challenges’’.

On what has propelled her to her role, Anne-Joy says seeking help when out of her depth, a strong sense of purpose and mentorship are to recognise for her growth.

‘‘Our CEO Jane Karuku, and Joe Mugunda have mentored me and I look up to them. In my 20s, I was driven by the need to make money. In my 30s, I am motivated by impact through transformational leadership.’’

But it is her upbringing that grounded this professional. Anne-Joy’s mother and two sisters remain her primary support system.

‘‘My father was the financial controller at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB). He pushed my siblings and I hard in our studies. He was strict on values such as integrity. That integrity does not matter to most people in Kenya fills me with pain”.

Anne-Joy is an inbred talent. She joined EABL in 2015 as a marketing manager for mainstream spirits before rising to the position of head of spirits two years later.

Between 2019 and November last year, she served as the company’s head of marketing for beer in the region. She was the director of marketing and innovations from last year in an acting capacity before her confirmation this week.

Before EABL, Anne-Joy had worked at the British American Tobacco (BAT) for 10 years between 2005 and 2015, rising through the ranks from a junior trade marketing representative to a brand manager.

Anne-Joy is a mother and a homemaker. Says she on her LinkedIn page: ‘‘I am raising two handsome boys to live up to their full potential by continuing to lead the charge to transform our home.’’

Her journey has featured a bagful of lessons too, one of them being that mentors steady one’s career and juniors give meaning to leadership.

Competence, clarity

‘‘You may have good intentions as a leader, but ultimately, it is your team that will deliver the work. I have learnt to keep my ears on the ground and to take a lot of feedback on how my team feels about their work.’’

To her, being female or male should never be a factor in one’s potential as a professional.

‘‘You can’t approach challenges thinking you are disadvantaged as a woman. All you need is competence and clarity to do what you desire. You cannot control the world, but you can control how you look at it.’’

On ethics in business, Anne-Joy emphasises that professionals can only thrive in companies whose value system corresponds with theirs through ‘‘actual practice of philosophies rather than just having them written on walls.’’

As she takes on this role, Anne-Joy hopes to build on the legacy of the brands under EABL and to strengthen their place in the market.

Sports, music

Her vision? To open doors for girls and Africans. ‘‘We have brands that can drive a sociocultural shift in Kenya. I have not met more talented people with a strong work ethic than East Africans. EABL is committed to growing talent in sports and music because brands become meaningful only when they give to societies where they operate.’’

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