What you need to know:
- Mary Ann Wambui is the woman expected to step into the giant shoes of her father — the late billionaire Chris Kirubi.
- She says her father taught her how to juggle, prioritise, sacrifice and end up only pursuing the best of interests.
Watching Mary Ann Wambui-Musangi speak, one notices facial pulls that give an impression of a steel lady who will smile, but not drop her guard.
She is the woman expected to step into the giant shoes of her father — the late billionaire Chris Kirubi.
So huge is the responsibility for this 50-year-old woman since the estate is estimated to be worth at least Sh40 billion.
She will have to juggle technology; media, advertising, stocks, agriculture, manufacturing and processing…name them, where her dad had vast interests.
She will also be expected to carry on her father’s legacy – that of being felt in political and economic deals in Kenya and beyond.
Besides playing her dad’s right hand woman in the business empire, she ventured out on her own in 2009 and started a restaurant ‘Secret Garden, on Riverside Drive in Nairobi.
In February 2017, when her dad’s Two Rivers Mall opened, she established ‘Olpul’, an upscale steakhouse.
Together with her husband Jubilee Party’s national elections board chairman Andrew Mukite Musangi, they have two daughters.
Ms Musangi, whose parents divorced in 1999, has also worked for the Kenya Commercial Bank, GlaxoSmithKline and Ogilvy & Mather where she honed her skills as corporate administrator for 15 years.
Speaking during the burial ceremony of her father at his 600 acre Bendor Farm in Gatanga Sub-county of Murang’a County, she said she is up to the task.
“My father adored me…in my father’s life, I was the boss and I would have all of him to myself,” Ms Musangi shared during her father’s burial last week.
She said she is a product “of my father’s foresight in my life that set about a painful journey of moulding me into a global personality.”
At the age of 12, she says the dad shipped her to Switzerland to pursue education where she was stage-managed to pursue other languages to add to her English and Swahili.
“I could not understand why my father would be so cruel to separate me from my family, especially cousins, my friends and my country and send me to faraway country…sometimes I resented him,” she said.
Nevertheless, she says she learnt French, Italian and Spanish, which at the age of 22, afforded her a job at the Coca-Cola multinational company in Morocco as head of 21 markets in North and West of Africa.
In retrospect, she now says she has come to appreciate her father’s vision for her “where his single goal was to have me exposed globally, fearless of any culture, language, persons and situations and today as you look at me, bold is my other name.”
She said her father taught her how to juggle, prioritise, sacrifice and end up only pursuing the best of interests.
“But that does not change anything in his interests…and my interests too. I am my dad’s little girl. I will put on your shoes…shoes that you have left behind…My tiny little feet will be swimming hopelessly in them…” she eulogised.
She revealed that she will soon roll out the Chris Kirubi Foundation that will concentrate on four thematic areas — education, innovation and technology, health specialised on diabetes and cancer ailments, and agriculture.
“I promise to do my best and when I’m stuck, I will seek those in this gathering — who included representatives of the Kenyatta family, business magnates from the world and government representatives — to hold my hand,” she said in her parting shot.
Above all, she said “and most importantly, I will seek the company of God to ensure my dad’s legacy will never be forgotten.”
Ms Musangi’s only listed sibling Robert Kirubi, had an icy response to her as she gets into the helm of the family empire: “Help others around you as my father helped you. Invest in people as he did his whole life. That is how he is going to live amongst us forever.”