Business Advice from Zambia’s Top CEO’s

Over the last three years, The Africa List has grown to become the leading network of next generation CEOs across Central, Southern and East Africa, which includes over 500 leading companies in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda and DRC as represented by their top 1000 c-suite executives aged under 45 years.

Once a year, the Africa List takes the opportunity to invite all the current senior CEOs/Chairs of the top 100 companies in the country to join the next generation of leaders who make up The Africa List community. This is a great opportunity for a country’s most experienced execs to spend time with the leaders who are responsible for the next wave of growth. Importantly, it also offers an opportunity to learn from those who have gone before and who continue to significantly influence the private sector in Zambia today.

Zambia’s CEO night kicked off with Charles Mudiwa, the CEO of Stanbic Zambia, who reminded us that as you rise in leadership, people stop looking at your technical skills (which is a given) and start to focus on who you are as a person; your values, principles and character. Therefore, the most important thing you have to manage is yourself. You have to establish an executive presence made up of style, substance and service. Style is important because you always have to look the part and be smart and well turned out. Substance relates to your character, being authentic without necessarily exposing your vulnerabilities or weaknesses. Service speaks to the impact your life has on others and the legacy you leave behind. This set the right tone for the evening and we were privileged to hear from three other top CEOs; Jason Kazilimani, the Managing Partner of KPMG, a big four accounting firms, Andrew Kapula, Managing Director of CEC Liquid, one of the largest ICT service providers and Mark O’Donnell, an established captain of industry.

Jason Kazilimani impressed with his candid remarks about recognising that he’s naturally an introvert and in order to grow as a leader and as a businessman he had to force himself to network more. He’s also an avid reader and like many successful people has been inspired by reading about the lives of others. Andrew Kapula emphasised the need for really good time management and planning out your day. In addition, he spoke passionately about bringing out the best in others.

Mark O’Donnell was ever the realist! He is always the most direct person in the room and reminded us that no matter how things bad are now, they’re not as bad as they were in the 80s and early 90s when the state controlled every aspect of the economy! At least now, he reminds us, we can make our own decisions and influence the course of our businesses, which is what all business leaders need to do. This is something we would all do well to remember when we’re gripped by the usual Zambian tendency of complaining and complacency. All the guests had a chance to mingle with the CEOs and have further words with them. This was a fantastic CEO night and well worth attending!

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