Safaricom’s founding chief executive officer Michael Joseph personally campaigned to have Bob Collymore succeed him in 2010 despite the latter not being the front-runner.
Mr Joseph told a gathering in Nairobi last year that being the “dictator” that he is, his ideal successor had to be a consultative individual to lead the telecommunications firm to the next phase — one of the reasons why he thought Mr Collymore would be the best pick.
“Quite frankly, my personality, my character, my lack of democracy, my dictatorship style of management was suited to a start-up and growth company. It wasn’t really suited to this mammoth that we have now. We have to consult and we have to agree; be nice to everybody,” said Mr Joseph, admitting that seeking consensus is “not my style.”
Mr Joseph was speaking at an event to celebrate 18 years of Safaricom on October 25, 2018, which Mr Collymore had not attended as he was away receiving medication.
“He’s very patient. I’m not patient at all,” Mr Joseph said of Mr Collymore, who died on Monday aged 61. His remains will be interred at a private ceremony on Tuesday.
At the October 2018 event, Mr Joseph revealed the long search for the next CEO of Safaricom, a company that is partly owned by London-based telecommunications conglomerate Vodafone, the government of Kenya and shareholders.
“We had gone on a worldwide search for a replacement for me. Actually, the search had started two years beforehand and we’d gone round and we’d done a shortlist,” he told the gathering that included journalists and other players in the technology space.
“I pushed for Bob to be on that shortlist. He wasn’t the favourite candidate at the time, but I pushed for Bob because he understood the DNA of Safaricom. He understood what we were all about: we were not just a mobile phone company, we were much bigger than that,” said Mr Joseph, now the interim chief executive.
“This country believed in Safaricom; we were part of everybody’s life. Bob understood that and I knew that Bob would continue with the legacy of Safaricom, not just my legacy. It was my legacy, but the company’s legacy that he would continue. That’s why I chose Bob,” said Mr Joseph.
He further revealed that Mr Collymore had “a hard time” in his first two years at Safaricom but later managed to steady his ship.
Mr Joseph led Safaricom for eight years. He said he left the corner office because he felt “a little bored because now I’d done everything”.
Mr Collymore succumbed to leukaemia a few months after the Safaricom board extended his term by a year so he could make up for the time he spent out of the country seeking medication.
He was to stay in his position until 2020.
The death also happened just two months after he had been appointed a board member of the National Cancer Institute by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.