Alice Kariuki

Group Regulatory Director, Airtel Africa.

Keep broadening your horizon

I was born in Nairobi, so basically I am a city girl. My dad was a strict disciplinarian and instilled in me the value of education and personal discipline at an early age. My mother taught me to have reverence for God and to consult Him in all my life decisions. Their influence has made me who I am and I hold on to their values.

My Journey

I went to school at Catholic Parochial School for my primary education and Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School in Nairobi. I studied Law at the University of Nairobi and also did my MBA at the School of Business, University of Nairobi. Law school was not really a choice. In our day the universities chose you and I was privileged to be accepted by the Faculty of Law University of Nairobi. The MBA was a choice I made. After working as in-house counsel for a number of years, I felt the need to take a course that helped me understand the commercial/ financial side of the business I was serving.

After graduating from law school and qualifying for the bar, I worked at Hamilton Harrison and Mathews briefly. From there in 2000, I joined Kencell Communications Limited, a company that was acquired by Bharti Airtel in 2010.

Airtel & I

I learnt of Airtel for the first time, in 2010, when details of the transaction to acquire the company, that at the time was called Zain, were released in Kenya. It was my responsibility to ensure that the transaction obtained regulatory approval in Kenya.

At Airtel I have grown both personally and professionally. I have been privileged to serve in various capacities and to work on exciting projects. I was hired as the Legal Affairs Manager in 2000, and was promoted to the Legal and Regulatory Affairs Manager in 2005. In 2008 I was promoted to the Legal and Regulatory Affairs Director. In 2015, I took up the position of Director Group Regulatory Affairs at Bharti Airtel International Netherlands B.V.

The Company has always had employees of diverse nationalities and it has been “a mini UN” experience for me. Airtel has given me opportunities to grow and lead others. Airtel has also exposed me to cutting edge trainings over the years, the most notable being the trainings on “Managing Managers for Results” GIBS, University of Pretoria and “General Management” University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Airtel also part paid for my MBA at the School of Business, University of Nairobi.

On mentorship

I have been privileged to have good leaders and some of these have served as professional and personal mentors. Worthy of mention are my former bosses Ms. Clare Ruto and Ms. Lynne Dorward. Both are great professional women who hold great careers and healthy families and maintain high integrity. I have maintained a good relationship with them over the years and they remain as important resources for me. They have influenced who I am as a leader.

On work life balance

I believe that in real life there is no balance. The demands of work and family are constantly in tension. Every day I pray for wisdom to know where to put my energies. It is always a delicate balance and the making the right choice on a day by day basis is critical. I am blessed because my husband is also a real partner in this life journey. If there is a crisis at work, my husband is able to handle the home front.

Women leaders

I admire, Dr. Betty Gikonyo, Co -founder and CEO, Karen Hospital (Kenya) and Mary Okelo, founder Makini School. While I only know what is published about Betty and Mary in the public sphere, I admire them as a professional women, who have worked hard and reached for great goals in their lives. I also admire that they have made great achievements while raising their families.

Advice to women

God has a plan for your life that is unique to you. Find out what that is and flow with it. Have patience and focus on results. Nothing sets you apart like delivering results. Lastly know your numbers and how your activities contribute to the big picture.