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PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK: Ariane Fisher

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By JAMES KAHONGEH
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Fisher is passionate about matching talent with the right opportunities. She has worked with a number of global data and tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter.

Between 2016 and 2017, Fisher served as the Chief of Staff for the American Ambassador to Austria. She was in the list of this year’s edition of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 for her efforts to make hiring of talent easier for employers and job seekers.

She tells us how and why the recruitment scene is changing.

We are changing how talent gets matched with opportunity. This approach seeks to understand your skills and abilities to connect you with the right job. We are helping Kenyan employers to use not just CVs as a recruitment tool, but real actionable data such as skills, attitudes and motivation.

We are shifting from a world of “tell me what you are good at” to “demonstrate to me what you can do”. We work with big companies with huge brand names to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and companies hiring for the first time.

How does the process work?

Through an online portal, we conduct a series of assessments based on what job a candidate is applying for. For a finance role, for instance, we would give the candidate a balance sheet and ask them to perform a series of tasks and track their work.

After this screening, we do a phone interview, which helps to evaluate how the person thinks, how they will behave at work and why they are excited about the job. This way, the employer is able to visualise the candidate at work.

Why is this approach better than the traditional recruitment process?
There are professionals who, if you read their résumé, you wouldn’t be excited about interviewing them, yet if you met them in person, you are able to spot their intelligence and motivation, qualities which would make them a good addition to your team.

A great CV does not always translate to good or bad talent. This approach emphasises on giving candidates an opportunity to show what they are capable of doing, and makes it possible to identify hidden talents that they might possess.

You walked away from a high profile job in government to work for a start-up. Why was this decision important to you? Would you advise a young person to do this?

I consider myself very lucky to have worked in various establishments in my career, a journey that has been full of lessons. But my most treasure advice is that if you have the chance to try out different work environments, take it.

You will sharpen what you are good at, learn what you are not good at, what you love doing and what you hate doing. I was also able to understand where I could contribute the most and make my career more meaningful to me.

What common mistakes should job seekers avoid?
Before presenting your credentials, ask yourself: Am I applying for the right job? Is the job a fit for my type of background? But more importantly, am I developing the right skills within myself?

Many job seekers only think about acquiring technical skills for a given job, forgetting that as important as these skills are, if you do not have good communication skills, your expertise might never be put to use.

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Start focusing on transferable and soft skills such as your attitude, trustworthiness and accountability.

How different is today’s employer from that of the early 2000s?

I interact with hundreds of employers in my line of work, all who are consistently looking for professionals with the right mix of traits to add to their teams. For them, it is more about your values than about what you know.

An employer is willing to teach you how to use various systems and software at work, but they expect you to already have these attributes.

Any particular factor that fascinates you about the Kenyan job market?
Job seekers spend hours applying for jobs, never to hear from potential employers, yet many organisations are ready to hire, only they cannot find the right talent.

This mismatch of talent and available opportunities makes the job market a broken system. This scenario interests me. This is the problem Shortlist is determined to fix.

What has your work experience in Kenya been like?

I have been in Kenya for two years now. Kenya is a good culture-fit for me and I am a good culture-fit for Kenya. I particularly like how warm, welcoming and open Kenyans are.

In the streets you can speak to anyone and everyone. The entrepreneurial hustle of Kenyans and how people will have ‘main jobs’ and still run side gigs is a style of life that I love. How all these pieces fit together in their work puzzle is admirable.

Was your recognition in Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 something you saw coming?

I was very honoured and embarrassed at the same time. To me, this was an acknowledgement for the change we are creating on the hiring scene.

How would you describe the popularity of using technology to recruit among Kenyan employers?

Getting a panel to read through hundreds of CVs, sometimes for a single job opening, is a tedious, expensive and time-consuming exercise for employers. Employers are now appreciating technology, which is more efficient and cheaper, in place of low-value recruitment processes.

What changes do you foresee in the Kenyan job market in the near future?

In five years, Kenyan employers will no longer rely on CVs to determine who you are and what you are good at. They will use technology and real data to assess candidates for jobs. This will also eliminate scenarios where job seekers feel that they were not fairly evaluated.

What is your favourite pastime?

I like to read fiction and sci-fi material. I am also actively trying to learn some Sheng’ so that I can engage young Kenyans more easily.

Why do you prefer fiction to practical books?

Fiction inspires me to think creatively in how I approach different situations in my job. It also helps me to get out of the world as it is and imagine how it could be. I believe there are more inventive ways to solve day-to-day problems beyond the conventional methods.



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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