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05/04/2013

Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni's offers Scaling The Heights Lessons.

Meet the man behind one of Kenya’s, if not Africa’s own pride, Kenya Airways, the man who says he cannot lie and puts honesty above everything else.

He holds a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nairobi and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Management Development Programme.
Yes, I know quite prestigious but what did you expect from a man of such stature?

In July of 2006, Titus revealed that he was not interested in any elective post in Kenya now, or in the future whatsoever. He has however served as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and
Communications and was a member of the Board of Kenya Airways before the big job came his way in 2003.

In an interview with renowned journalist John Sibi Okumu, Titus admitted that if you are late for a meeting with him, you are out so to speak. Titus goes further ahead to say that he learnt about the benefits of time keeping from his British bosses and the lesson has stuck with him ever since.

The all serious looking CEO says he is great lover of music. “I like all sorts of music from all over the world. Sierra Leone, Mozambican, Ethiopian and South African in particular,” Titus admits.

Corruption has been a thorny issue in Kenya’s flesh, Naikuni says he would put his hand on his heart and he swears to have never practised the vice. “The culture of honesty must come from the top down. If my driver sees me taking company goods, what’s to stop him doing the same thing? My own behavior must be beyond reproach. Honesty is all. Always speak the truth and you do not have to remember anything,” advices Titus.

While most CEO’s go on with their lives without knowing their employees, Titus prides himself in knowing more than 40% of his 4,600 staff members worldwide. An employee at Kenya Airways tells of an incident... “When we were talking out of office one day, we came across a man in a wheel chair at the entrance-I for one did not know him. ‘How are you Njoroge?’ Titus asked him. ‘Sorry to hear about your ailment. How is the treatment going?” Titus would later bid him goodbye and bid him to get well soon.

Being the number one economy airline in Africa, one would want to hold on to the helms of power at such a prestigious company. But not Titus Naikuni, “I do not think someone should stay at the same job like mine for more than 10 years or so. I am consciously planning my exit, and in the process also, helping choose my successor.

It’s hasn’t been all rosy at Kenya Airways under the reigns of this man Titus which maybe led him to having a correction of top five tips for managing in tough times which you can borrow from.
•    Never panic in front of your team.
•    Encourage your team at all times
•    Once you have agreed on the way forward with your team, implement it without getting deterred halfway especially by ‘vulturistic’ appetites during hard times.
•    Deter your immediate team from pointing the finger at their colleagues when they are talking privately with you.
•    Encourage honest assistance between all your team members.

Titus Naikuni is married to Josephine and they have four children. He says he likes to leave the office at five and then go straight home. He says he doesn’t have a lot of friends. “I am not what you would call a party animal and I love the simple life.”

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