NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 8 – He’s known all over the world for steering Kenya’s first mobile phone operator to great heights and leading East Africa’s biggest company to retain an edge in innovative products and services that are transforming lives for millions of Kenyans.
Michael Joseph has a larger than life public profile, but Capital Business wanted to take a sneak peak into his personal life.
Q: You have probably answered this question many times but I hope you don’t mind telling us again – who is Michael Joseph?
A: I am a very private person out of Safaricom. As a CEO of Safaricom I’m a public figure and I get to mix with a lot of people and network with a lot of people but in private, I like to be private but its difficult to go to a restaurant and not have people know who you are.
But outside of Safaricom I very much like to either stay at home, read – I’m a very avid reader – and pretty much do what normal people do. I’m not a very great sports person but I am a big fan of Formula One. I’m very fortunate to have a house in Northern Kenya where I spend a lot of my free time.
Q: We’ve seen you participating in several marathons. Is that something you like doing?
A: I do it because think it’s right and also a good goal for me to have as a reason to be fit. I run in the Safaricom half marathon, I’ve run a few 10 km here in Nairobi.
Q: Other than watching Formula One what are your passions?
A: My passion is really my job and family. I’m not a golfer, I have never been in a golf course in Kenya except by accident, I don’t race cars but I just like the environment. I particularly like walking in the bush.
I’m a great wine lover, I like to choose good wine I have a great wine collection very haphazard I must say no order at all I like good food I like eating out a lot but there is not a big choice in Nairobi to eat out but I enjoy eating out.
We have a house in France which is also in the country and where we go to when we can, it’s also good for us when we go there.
Q: Speaking of family, how many children do you have? Are they here in Kenya?
A: I have two children from my first marriage both daughters; they are both in marriage and live in Atlanta America. My wife has a daughter from her marriage and she lives with us but she’s at university in London.
Q: Do you get to see them?
A: Yes as a matter of fact I just came back from America a couple of weeks ago. I am now a grandfather; one daughter just got a baby for the first time.
Q: How’s the experience?
A: I don’t know, all babies look the same to me.
Q: You seem to love work so much, when do plan to quit?
A: I don’t think I’ll ever quit. I’m not the kind of person to quit work but when I’ll quit the day to day job I hope it will be 2010.
Q: What do you plan to do after you leave Safaricom?
A: I think I’ll do some other things, there are other things I like to do. I’m very passionate about the environment and conservation and I hope I can do more on that, I’m sure that I’d like to advice other companies perhaps those that would like to invest in Africa how to invest and what to do.
I hope to get paid a lot of money for doing very little so that I can spend a lot of time traveling. I have traveled a lot in my life but it has always been on business. It would be nice to travel for pleasure to spend time in the country that I haven’t been to or where I have spent little time.
Q: Will you be doing all those things from here?
A: Yes I’ll definitely to stay here in Kenya. If I retire I will do it here spend time here and some time in Europe I like it here.