In the past two weeks, the corporate world has witnessed some developments worth celebrating, highlighting and drawing lessons from.
First it was news about the retirement of business mogul Thomson Mpinganjira, the brains behind the homegrown FDH Financial Holdings Limited, which counts among its subsidiaries First Discount House Limited, FDH Money Bureau Limited and the recently-listed FDH Bank plc.
Having earlier stepped aside to pave the way for a court battle, Thomson Mpinganjira formally packed his briefcase and left the office of FDH Financial Holdings Limited group chief executive officer (CEO) to his son, William who until the new appointment was deputy managing director for FDH Bank plc.
Next is the appointment of Harold Jiya as deputy CEO and chief commercial officer for National Bank of Malawi plc effective October 1 2020. Until the new appointment, Harold served as National Bank of Malawi plc’s general manager and head of wholesale banking since 2016.
I say congratulations to William and Harold for the appointments.
I am wishing you success as you take up new and more challenging tasks.
Thomson Mpinganjira also deserves a pat on the back for establishing—in partnership with partners such as Old Mutual—what is now one of the country’s biggest financial services groups and indeed effectively managing the transition in leadership.
During his farewell cocktail party at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre last Thursday, Thomson Mpinganjira said he will enjoy his retirement having fulfilled what he previously wished: “I really wanted to leave the company while it was vibrant and put it on the Malawi Stock Exchange.”
It was not easy, though, for Thomson Mpinganjira. He confessed that the journey to ‘Celebrating Greatness’ was “exciting, but very frustrating lots of times”. But when all is said and done, what matters was that in the end he achieved what he wanted to achieve.
My curiosity was on the succession plan Thomson Mpinganjira employed. It reminded me of leadership transitions in some of the major corporations in the country, namely Nico Holdings plc, Old Mutual Malawi, Press Corporation plc and National Bank of Malawi plc.
During their respective leadership transitions in the past four or so years, the corporations—except Press Corporation plc which filled the vacancy of group CEO with a candidate from one of its subsidiaries—appeared to have had an internalised succession plan.
Such transition models send a message of stability and continuity to stakeholders, including shareholders and business partners. On the other hand, the arrangement of opening the top job to all and sundry is equally good, but exposes a lack of planning in a big corporation.
Experiences elsewhere have shown that whereas boards of directors hired external CEOs, most of them did not retain the same business executives at the end of their contracts.
It is argued that “insiders” are familiar with the organisational culture and the people, but tend to develop cold feet to implement radical changes while “outsiders” bring with them new ideas. However, the “outsiders” are sometimes found wanting by their lack of understanding of the particular industry, company or its culture.
In my career as a journalist I have interacted with all manner of people, including top business executives. I came to personally know the soft-spoken Thomson Mpinganjira when he was CEO of Malawi Stock Exchange. He was a regular source of news and unpacked the stock exchange to us, laymen.
Besides professional interaction, he was one news source who always loved to make one feel comfortable and went personal to encourage you to invest something for the rainy day. Happy retirement Thomson Mpinganjira.
When people you personally know achieve greatness it is always a great milestone worth celebrating. Both William Mpinganjira and Jiya are people I interact with on regular basis.
The rise of both William and Harold reminded me of the narration in the book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan with Charles Burck. In the book, a story is told of the rise of two individuals—Jamie Dimon, chairman of JPMorgan Chase and Charles Prince, former CEO of CitiGroup in the USA.
Their respective backgrounds at the helm of two of the largest financial institutions determined perfomance.
Jamie was the son of Theodore ‘Ted’ Dimon, a star broker at Shearson and close friend of Sandy Weill who eventually put together the deal that created CitiGroup. Weill took Jamie under his wing during college summer breaks as executive assistant. In that way, Jamie understood the business better. Prince, on the other hand, had a different entry point to Jamie and struggled to execute effectively.
The long and short of it is that by way of their respective backgrounds, both William and Harold are some of the finest bankers on the land. They eat, think and dream banking and finance.
Farewell and happy retirement Thomson Mpinganjira. Congratulations William Mpinganjira on your appointment as FDH Financial Holdings Limited group CEO. Likewise, congratulations Harold Jiya on your new appointment as National Bank of Malawi plc deputy CEO and chief commercial officer.