By Ruoro Kairu
This week, the daily papers have had a common face printed on them. All the headlines read the same words – Bob Collymore.
Robert William Collymore passed on in early July 2019. The news of his passing came as a shock to most. After his demise, the papers printed his story, condolence messages from various brands and notable persons, and most of my friends posted him all over their social media platforms.
A few days after his passing, Bob Collymore has been awash in the minds of Kenyans.
The 61-year-old was the CEO of Safaricom, a leading telecommunications company in Africa. Since he picked up the position nearly a decade from his demise, Bob has held –and advanced the company’s position in the market.
As with every great leader, there’s a lot we can learn from the life of Bob Collymore. A few years back, fascinated by his success, a deep interest grew for both his personal and professional life.
After his passing, I was reminded of some of the accomplishments and milestones he achieved. I would like to share with you some of the biggest lessons I have learned from Bob Collymore.
1. You don’t always have to follow the conventional path
In most cases, we try and follow other people’s path. If someone used a certain method to succeed, we are more prone to follow the same path.
When you look at Bob, he didn’t always follow the conventional route. He wore his own shoes as he always said.
For example, many view success as going to college and getting a good education, and starting off in a profession. For Bob, however, though he was called to the Warwick University, he could not finance himself through school. Even as he was the CEO of Safaricom, he still did not have a college education.
Another example to illustrate how unconventional he was is when he took over as CEO. His predecessor –Michael Joseph, had achieved so much that Bob could have decided to ride on the success. For example, he could have focused on Mpesa or another of his predecessor’s projects. However, Bob Collymore decided to try out his success. Some of the products he introduced failed, others succeeded and surpassed what Michael Joseph had achieved.
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
2. Always give your best
I have worked in places where my bare minimum was enough to get me through. Bob Collymore always believed in giving his very best, and that’s what helped him climb to the top of the corporate ladder.
If you look at his professional life at Vodacom, you’ll notice a trend of hard work and dedication. When he got in, he did not have university papers to back him, but that did not stop him. Additionally, while in the UK, he faced racism because of his skin color. Nevertheless, he did not let this deter him.
“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” Og Mandino
3. Never be afraid to try, and if you fail, learn from it and try again
Sometimes, fear holds us and keeps us from trying out new things. It’s common to stick to what we know works best. While sometimes its best to stick to the routine, we should also be willing to try new things.
At his time in Safaricom, he tried different ventures. Some of the different ideas birthed during his era include Lipa Karo, M-Shwari, Lipa na Mpesa, the launching of 4G network in Kenya, Home Fibre, Masoko, the Safaricom App, and most recently, Fuliza.
Not all of these ideas were successful. For example, One Tap, where you could easily pay in a few easy steps, died down over time. However, he learned from this and used the knowledge to better the company.
In his personal life, Bob has been married three times. During several interviews, he spoke of the lessons he learned in his previous relationships, and how this helped him in his marriage.
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway.” Carrie Fisher
Bob Collymore came from a humble beginning and went ahead to the top of his profession. His journey is one we can all learn from and use it to grow and move ahead.
What lesson have you learned from Bob Collymore life?