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From Management Trainee to KPA boss: A journey through Catherine Mturi’s career

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The Board of Kenya Ports Authority on Tuesday appointed Catherine Mturi-Wairi as the new Managing Director, taking over from Gichiri Ndua, who was sacked along other top officials back in February. We got a hold of Mrs. Wairi’s CV, and it is impressive, to say the least. The KPA Board gave Catherine a score of 72.5 percent compared to her closest competitor, Joseph Atonga, who scored 68.75 percent.

The 48-year-old career accountant started working when she was 24 years as a management trainee at Citibank where she acquainted herself with corporate and retail banking. Management Trainees are more or less, interns, but with an emphasis on growing them towards management at some point.

After one-year at Citibank, Catherine moved to KPA in the same capacity where she rotated in different departments including operations, IT, Engineering, HR and Finance.

Three years later she was offered the position of Account Payroll Administrator. Her roles included supervision of payroll staff and implementation of a new payroll program. She also oversaw computerization of the payroll section which resulted in reduced time cards preparation time and staff overtime expense.

Within three years, Catherine moved from payroll to Revenue Accountant, then Creditors Ledger Controller. It is illustrative to note that her CV includes her responsibilities and achievements. For example:

“I had primary responsibility for payment of suppliers, cash & treasury management of the organization, as well as management of the loan portfolio.

During this period, I developed and strengthened the Treasury Management function which has resulted in additional revenues to KPA.

I established the taxation unit with the aim of the Authority being self-reliant on the administration of tax matters, a move that greatly reduced the cost of Tax Consulting and also enhanced the Authorities compliance level.”

Papers (still) matter

Catherine did not settle with her degrees – a Bsc (Finance & Accounting) and MBA strategic management  from (USIU) – but she has continued to pursue knowledge in fields beyond finance.

For instance, she is a Certified SAP Consultant, Finance.

This certification, no doubt, was a major consideration when she was made the Project Manager SAP-ERP implementation. This was an additional role as the Manager – Financial Accounting. For two years, Catherine oversaw the implementation of the enterprise resource planning system, which drastically transformed the port operations. Again, she enumerates her achievements and specific outcomes and outlines the problem she addressed at the organization.

In addition to the SAP Certification, Catherine is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Public Secretary.

Three years later, she was made the Manager Management Accounting, where she served for two years before moving back to head Financial Accounting. In 2008, at the age of 40, she was appointed General Manager Finance, where she was in charge of procurement, financial accounting, management accounting and commercial departments.

Earlier this year, Catherine was appointed the acting Managing Director after the exit of Ndua.

Lessons  

Consistency: She has worked at KPA for 23 years. The Board said; “Mrs Mturi-Wairi is not only qualified, but also has a wealth of experience in the industry as a long-serving employee of KPA

Diligence, patience and Hardwork: Sounds cliché, but her CV speaks volume that what she has achieved is a result of these three attributes.

Specialize, but be diverse: Sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not. Good managers have to be knowledgeable in other areas apart from their area of specialization.

Never stop learning

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KEN MACHARIA
@Kenmacharia is the business and tech editor at CapitalFM. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Communication from the University of Nairobi and has six years experience in media.