NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11 – James Mworia, 36, is an outstanding leader; from an intern to a Chief Executive Officer in a span of seven years.
He is the CEO of the largest quoted investment firm in East Africa, Centum Investment Company Limited, which is listed on the Nairobi and Uganda Securities Exchanges.
Appointed CEO in October 2008, he has moved Centum from a value of Sh6 billion in assets, to about Sh30 billion and currently managing over Sh140 billion third party funds.
I have met Mworia at several events but had never had an opportunity for a one-on-one chat with him, until this interview. Unlike some or perhaps many CEOs, the Centum boss is relaxed, easy, both in attitude and approach.
Climbing the ladder
Mworia did not just become a CEO by default; he knew he would be, someday. All he did was to work towards it and it happened. He however does not forget to acknowledge those who have contributed to his growth.
“I think I knew it and I got a lot of encouragement from my mum. One time when I was probably 16 years I remember I was going to see a General Manager of a company. I told her, ‘mum you know I am not sure what I am going to tell him.’ And she told me, ‘what do you mean? you are as good as him. One day, you are going to become a General Manager or a CEO.”
The late renowned American author Napoleon Hill one time said that whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Mworia has lived by this mantra.
In 2001 Mworia, accepted to start as an intern at Centum, despite having a Law Degree from the University of Nairobi, Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Financial Analyst. This was quite an interesting mix that later produced young leader.
“My approach to life is that anything I have today, that is the best I have, and that is the opportunity I take. When I was an intern, the first job I had was in the filing room. I could have looked at that filing job and say it was below my capability; that I am a graduate and I should not be doing filing. But when I went into that room I said, ‘what is the opportunity here.’ And the opportunity for me was to learn about the business. I really took time to study the files. Two months down the road, we were raising capital and the CEO decided to administer a quiz about the company. I scored the highest marks because I had been reading. And that is how I was identified and got a job.”
Apart from his curious mind to understand the business, Mworia believed in doing more than what was expected of him. “That is what I have consistently done and it has been my philosophy.”
In 2005 he was appointed as the Investment Manager and later the CEO in 2008.
Growing with Centum
Some define investing as the art of playing with money and multiplying it. No doubt; Mworia has understood the art better.
Apart from crossing the Sh3 billion mark in profits this year, Centum is helming one of the biggest real estate ventures on the continent. The Two Rivers development is on 100 acres of prime real estate located within the highly sought after diplomatic blue zone in Nairobi, Runda.