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Rene-Meza: Old enough for the job

NAIROBI, July 23 – At only 31 years of age, Rene Meza, the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Celtel has to himself a profile that many of his age would envy.

Born and raised in Paraguay, Meza first worked in the banking sector (which he found “boring”) before joining the telecommunications industry. He was a Marketing Director of a telkom operator in Paraguay at 22. Then he was transferred to Pakistan as Chief Executive of the same group after which, in 2006, he joined Tigo, Tanzania as CEO.

He is married with a 4 year-old daughter.

Meza spoke to Capital Business.

Q: How does it feel being at your position at age 31?

A: It’s not unique! It’s actually how things work in Latin America where I come from. We begin working while still at school, so you tackle both your academics and career.

I started working in the mobile phone industry 10 years ago but before I was in the banking sector which I found quite boring and so had to leave.

Q: What’s your education background?

A: I have a degree in Business Administration (Marketing option) from the University of Paraguay.

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Q: Give us a sneak preview of your career growth:

A: I became a Marketing Director of a telkom operator in Paraguay South America at 22. Then I  was transferred to Pakistan as Chief Executive of the same group after which in 2006 I  became the CEO of Tigo Tanzania.

That was my last position before taking up this position.

Q: Describe your management style

A: I put the right people at the right place, I empower them to make their own decisions and let then be accountable for whatever decision they make.
I don’t believe in micro-managing neither do I baby-sit my directors and managers.

Q: What strikes you in people?

A: Honesty and transparency.

Q: What is your take on Kenya as a business environment for your operation?

A: I like the first impression of the country. I like the people and what stands out most is the entrepreneurial mind of the people; you don’t have to push them to do anything. They are always willing to learn to become something or someone in the society.

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Q: Why do you think you will succeed in turning Celtel around where your predecessors have been unable?

A: I’m passionate, energetic, and have the aspiration to succeed in what I do.
My experience in the mobile industry both in the emerging markets and African countries is a positive thing.
I like challenges and new opportunities which should explain why I undertook this position. I knew the challenges facing the company but was willing to see what I can do about it.

Remember, I left the banking industry because I found it to be too slow and with all the structures in place, but in the mobile industry things change so fast since the sector is quite dynamic.

Q: What should we expect to see in your reign as CEO of the second mobile operator in the country?

A: We have launched a number of products in the last 3 weeks that I have been around and I must say the results are amazing. You will see a lot more going forward.

The launch of our new brand, Zain, will bring in a lot more new products, and we want to become the fastest growing operator in the country and in the chain.

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