CIO100: Should businesses bring IT to their boardrooms?


Over the years, organisations have been all about their bottom line, focusing on their core businesses and giving IT a backseat by treating it with a “keeping the lights on” approach, spending on basic systems and infrastructure maintenance. Time has, however, shown that this approach just doesn’t cut it any more especially for organisations that are looking to innovate faster. This is one of the big-ticket discussions at the CIO100 Symposium and awards next week led by industry captains and senior business leaders.

The role of the CIO has really evolved, once the “black sheep” in the organisations, are now required to take an active role in making business decisions as ​the world increasingly becomes digital. According to a recent analysis by Deloitte Insights the number of technology-focused directors—those with meaningful technology experience—on public company boards is low, and that many executive boards are only beginning to add technology expertise.

“The percentage of public companies that have appointed technology-focused board members has grown over the last six years from 10 percent to 17 percent. However, this figure almost doubles (32 percent) for high performers—companies that outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) by 10 percent or more for the past three years. Although having a technology-focused director may not be the sole reason for performance success, many high-performing companies appear to recognize the potential advantage of having technology expertise in the boardroom,” Deloitte added.

CIOs often interact with the board less frequently than other members of the C-suite whose roles are more historically enmeshed with board requirements. In an interview with the former Britam CIO now the company’s Group’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Jack Maina, he revealed to CIO East Africa that his appointment to the new role is as a result of the company’s recognition of the interlinkages between customer service, operations and technology as an enabler to the attainment of the customer centric lean digital operations.

“CIO is perhaps the most suitable role to grow or morph into a broader COO role,” Mr. Maina continued.  “I am now involved in strategically optimising the use of technology, people, and defined processes to achieve an optimum competitive positioning, leveraging on technology and process management to standardise operations and reduce turnaround time on key business processes. I am also in charge of identifying and safeguarding the management of all operational risks, ensuring that operations remain optimum to enhance the overall customer experience and enhance customer centricity and seeing that we deliver and achieve the customer promise for each product and service.”

Click here to register and attend the upcoming CIO 100 Annual Symposium and Award

Mr. Maina’s path to relevance in the eyes of the board is one path to follow. However, Deloitte further explains that as CIOs’ business responsibilities evolve, boards are slowly increasing the level of communication and engagement with CIOs: In 2016, 25 percent of directors reported that they met with the CIO at every formal meeting, up from 18 percent in 2012.

These figures are certainly encouraging and, as time goes by CIO East Africa is of the view that more and more Tech savvy board members will and should start to crop up as IT becomes more and more embeded in our daily lives. Join us at the upcoming CIO 100 Annual Symposium and Award as we talk more on this topic in a panel session headlined by top speackers who include:


Dr. Bitange Ndemo is currently the Chairman, Distributed Ledgers & Artificial Intelligence taskforce in Kenya. He is an ICT specialist and an Associate professor in Entrepreneurship.  He also teaches Research Methods and Management at the School of Business, University of Nairobi. Prior to this, he was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication where he initiated various transformative projects, including development of the undersea cables into East Africa and the development of the Kenya Open Data Initiative.  He sits on several Boards including Safaricom, Mpesa Foundation and Research ICT Africa. He is a senior advisor to the UNCDF’s Better than Cash Alliance and the UN Global Pulse.


Mr. Ngare holds a Masters in Management from Harvard University, an MSC in Advanced Computer Science (Distinction) and BSC in Computer Science from the University of Leicester. He also holds a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Management from Harvard University, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and is a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). He previously worked for British Telecom (Global Services) with assignments in UK, Saudi Arabia, Peru and a joint venture with NTT Docomo in Japan. He subsequently worked at Stanbic Bank and NIC Bank (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania). Mr. Ngare has in depth experience in management, the telco industry, mobile financial services and emerging technology risks and security.


Mr. Louis Otieno (53) holds a Masters of Business Administration from Long Island University and a Bachelor of Science from Mercy College (USA). He is a software developer by training. Mr Otieno began his professional career in the USA, rising to the position of Assistant Vice President at EEC Financial Services in New York. He joined Microsoft in 1997 and is currently the Director in the Middle East and Africa team responsible for Corporate Affairs with Microsoft 4 Africa. Mr. Otieno promotes innovations such as the use of white spaces to provide high speed, affordable broadband connectivity in the unserved rural areas. He is a non-executive director at Barclays Bank Kenya Limited. Mr. Otieno was appointed to the board as an independent non- executive director in July 2017 and is a member of the Human Resources and Remuneration Committee.


Nik Nesbitt is the current Chairman of KEPSA (Kenya Private Sector Alliance), the umbrella body of the different marketing and chamber organizations in Kenya. As Chair, he helps to lead the engagement and policy making between private sector and the government to ensure they jointly improve the Ease of Doing Business in Kenya. He is also the Country General Manager, Eastern Africa at IBM, in this post he leads the extended East African region for all of IBM’s products and services.


Steve Njenga is currently the CIO of Barclays Bank Kenya Ltd. He is a hands-on, visionary leader with over 20+ years’ experience designing, implementing, and managing global Information Technology systems, operations, and teams on multiple continents. Visionary, with ability to deliver large-scale enterprise applications, with a hands-on technical management style that inspires confidence in team members. Keen sense for introducing technology-based solutions for complex business objectives while understanding and meeting the needs of customers and stakeholders.


Vimal Shah, an Asian-Kenyan businessman, is the Chairman of Bidco Oil Refineries, the largest manufacturer of edible oils in East and Central Africa, and manufactures detergents, soaps, baking powder and canola, as well as other edible oils. He is responsible for the company’s growth into new markets and product. Mr. Shah has been Chairman of Kenya Private Sector Alliance since April 2013. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Kenya Association of Manufacturers in Kenya. He serves as Vice Chairman of lobby at Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

Click here to register and attend the upcoming CIO 100 Annual Symposium and Award

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