“All is possible. Everything works out at the right moment.” Edwin Dande, CEO Cytonn Investments.
I recently sat on a panel at an MBA class at Strathmore; here are some of the Q&As from the conversation.
Cytonn CEO Edwin H. Dande speaking during a panel session with students at Strathmore Business School.
Tell us about your journey. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in a small village, Rongo, where the best I could probably have been was a sugarcane farmer. In pursuit of being the best, I had to make tough decisions like repeating standard seven in order to get better results and work towards my dream of attending Alliance High School. Well, as they say, dreams are valid; I was able to realize that dream and even went ahead and took every opportunity that I came across. My path led me to the USA, which provided a learning curve for me. I had to both work and put myself through undergrad. I then joined KPMG in New Jersey as an auditor, went back to school for an MBA at Wharton, did investment banking then came back home. I worked for Centum, Britam and then left with other team members to form Cytonn.
How have you dealt with communication crisis in your career?
Regarding communication, I have learnt that the best way is to put out your facts and perception changes over time. For the past five years, I have dealt with one communication crisis after another especially on social media. What we are doing, offering our clients high yield returns and alternative investments, is very threatening to established players such as banks. Therefore, you constantly have to educate the public against the misinformation out there. Previously, I had not realized how important bloggers are. They shape the narrative and one needs to pay attention to them if you are to have some sort of online peace. We have an able communications team that ensures that we deal with whatever communication issues we have and come up with measures to prevent crisis. All in all, this is still a learning process for me.
How do you manage conflict at board level?
Conflict is good. Having different directions is okay. It enables you to see the different perspectives that are on the table. However, you have to be very careful to ensure that the conflict does not turn out to be a distraction or lead your company to destruction.