Bryan Kariuki: Corporate high-flyer who always wanted to make big things

Bryan Kariuki

Bryan Kariuki, the Regional Vice President for SeamlessHR.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Mr Bryan Kariuki, the recently appointed Regional Vice President for SeamlessHR, has always wanted to create big things. Growing up, he was convinced that startups were a good way to build from nothing. 

Now in a new role, whose main objective is to improve the productivity of workers in Africa, he knows it is time to draw from his experience of more than 15 years in technology to make magic similar to that of the Asian Economic Miracles. 

Mr Kariuki spoke to Nation.Africa.

What is your education background? 

I studied economics and finance but my first job was as a consultant at McKinsey and Company in Johannesburg. I was drawn to the tech startup ecosystem in Cape Town and very soon I dove into this intriguing world. I’ve been there since.

At what point did you realise that you wanted to be in the technology space?

It was not an explicit realisation. I was young and I wanted to make big things. Startups are a great way to build from nothing. Not every new business is a startup. Startups are distinguished by one thing, and that is high growth.

As a result, most fail, even more than typical businesses. But when you’re young you are sure that yours will succeed. Young people are yet to face their mortality.

What does your new role at SeamlessHR entail?

My job is to support corporates in Eastern Africa in optimising the productivity of their workers. I am doing this together with a superstar team of tech developers, HR experts, and commercial resources.

What does it take to be in your current position?

To get here takes lots of hard work, luck and grace. Most of the things that got me to where I am were not of my doing. Had I been something completely different at this point in my life, it is my hope that I would have been as grateful for my qualities and circumstances.

How do you ensure a smooth transition from one job role to another?

The most important thing is to be in tune with the new organisation, which begins with having many conversations with the people there. This helps to align expectations for both parties. I am fortunate to have joined a business where candor is prized. So, I can say what’s on my mind. 

If I don’t know something, I say it without fear of looking stupid. In terms of leaving somewhere, it is never a good idea to burn bridges. If you are feeling hard done by the process, your future self will regret it if you give in to the desire to get even!

What fresh skills and ideas do you bring to SeamlessHR?

I bring energy. The energy to get things going, and the energy to convert all of the great resources that are available at SeamlessHR into results for our customers here in Eastern Africa. It also helps that I have worked in technology for some time now, and I have served many big corporates in Eastern Africa during that time. So, I understand them.

What are you looking to achieve? 

Recent analysis by the Rockefeller Foundation showed that the number of workers is growing in African economies, but output per worker is flat. The Asian economic miracles happened because they dramatically increased output per worker. 

I will have been successful if the top 10 per cent of corporates in Eastern Africa dramatically increase the productivity of their sizeable investments in people. This is true regardless of whether they achieve this with SeamlessHR. The mission is the objective.