There seems to be a problem at Safaricom. East and Central Africa’s biggest telco is facing senior management problems as the Board of Directors of Safaricom feel that the shareholders are not getting a good return on their investment. Citing various touchy issues, the board members sitting sometime last week before the annual general meeting (AGM), were rumoured to have demanded that Bob Collymore resign as the CEO of the listed company.
Bob Collymore is one very flexible and hands-on manager if you ask me. He is a keen listener and a team player unlike Michael Joseph who was more of a dictator and a political spin-master. But maybe the old men and women sitting in the board of the firm have not understood the management style of Bob Collymore. They are reported to have raised issue with very petty matters like Bob Collymore’s love life during their sitting.
Who does not have problems in family? I can confess that I have problems in my family and I can point to you 3 Safaricom board members who will never maintain or successfully manage their own family. But does that affect the delivery of Bob professionally? NO!! I guess he knows how to handle both without any interfering with the other.
So Bob Collymore is going through a separation with his wife and that is a MAJOR issue at the Safaricom board.
Secondly, Safaricom board has been complaining for some time that Bob Collymore is intellectually shallow than his peers (read: friends) in the industry. I don’t know what they mean by this but most of the great managers and pioneers in innovation have not so much “intellectual superiority.” The board came to this conclusion having analysed Bob’s friends like Aly Khan Satchu and Jeff Koinange who does not have any deep grasp of the industry.
They view Jeff Koinange and Aly Khan Satchu as a shallow, unschooled and childish bunch that they see no value Bob get from hanging out with them. Jeff and Aly are some close friends of Bob Collymore but none of them is thought to have seen the inside of a university class.
Aly Khan is believed by the industry and the wide corporate bigwigs to rely mostly on connections to make shallow analysis of the Kenyan financial market while Jeff Koinange is regarded as an equal to village propagandist who cannot really influence In fact the board members believe that Bob cannot effectively interact with the likes of Martin Oduor Otieno, Adan Mohammed or even not so intellectually endowed managers like Peter Nduati of Resolution Health.
Some major shareholders at Safaricom have also claimed that Bob Collymore is more in cheap gossip pages and least on business pages where he should be.
Lastly, the Safaricom board believe that Bob Collymore is not delivering value to the shareholder while as a consumer I believe that Safaricom is not delivering on my end. On the exit of Michael Joseph, Safaricom shareholders hoped that the company’s stock would rise above Ksh 5. It has not happened and look like it will never happen. The share price is still below the Ksh 5 IPO price.
However, pundits believe that Bob Collymore might be a victim of corrupt forces at Safaricom. Bob is credited with trying to fight the strong forces of Mobitelea and other corporate frauds at Safaricom but the same forces represented by managers, shareholders and board members might be fighting back.
It will be very interesting to see how long Bob Collymore will last at Safaricom but industry analysts doubt if he will manage to weather the storm. Already his own staff members are not happy as late as this week when one of the senior managers reported to work from leave and found that her duties have been assigned to another colleague. She has now been given some options to chose all of which are junior to her last assignment. She might be headed out in protest.