ADRIAN GROUP: MENTORING YOUNG ENGINEERING GRADUATES

Mr. Bernard Njoroge, CEO, Adrian Group.
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Led by its chief executive officer, technology firm rolls out a programme that is aimed at providing young female engineering graduates with training and employment opportunities so that they can succeed in their careers

By George Gichuki

Seven years ago, Mr. Bernard Njoroge decided to embark on a mission of transforming lives through entrepreneurship. He therefore started an engineering company and named it Adrian. Playing in the space of information and communications technology (ICT), telecommunication and generation of power, Adrian has grown tremendously within a short span of time. It is a household name in Kenya and regionally. The company integrates systems that are sourced from the international market and it makes them suitable locally and regionally. “We represent international technology brands in the regional market,” says Mr. Njoroge adding that the company has positioned itself as the gateway of cutting edge technology in East and Central Africa with resounding success. “Technology changes the world and that is what informed my decision to venture in that field,” he observes.

Paradigm shift

From the onset, the entrepreneur took cognizance of the fact that the local technology industry was dominated by multinational players who mainly engaged female employees. It was a major challenge. “I was therefore determined to set up a local technology company that could create room for female employees and check the dominance of multinationals,” he says.

By 2018, the company had managed to bring on board a significant number of female employees. Out of a hundred employees, nineteen were female, while seventy one were male. Nevertheless, that did not satisfy Mr. Njoroge. On a closer look though, he noticed that more men were applying for the jobs the firm would advertise as opposed to ladies. That awkward position put him in a dilemma but after some research, he found out that many ladies graduating as engineers would end up in other careers. As a way forward, his company advertised for engineering positions that were restricted to female applicants aged between eighteen to twenty four years. Out of one hundred and forty applicants, twenty were selected in January, this year to join the company.

To start with, the new team underwent a mentorship programme in February. The month long in-house programme took place at the Kenya School of Government and it was fully financed by the Adrian Group. The mentors were lady professionals who had successfully pursued careers different from the degree courses they had pursued. The objective of this programme was to enable the young engineering graduates appreciate the fact that they would also succeed in other fields by being open minded. “It was a process of changing their mindset and enabling them to appreciate the fact that they could grow their careers by learning on the job ,” says Mr. Njoroge. Indeed, whereas one of the mentors had undertaken a degree course in medical engineering , she had ended up in business leadership, while another one was a food scientist who had become a successful marketer.

Mr. Bernard Njoroge,
CEO, Adrian Group.

Technology ambassadors

From the team of twenty, twelve have been employed by the firm. This team has been branded Adrian’s technology ambassadors. According to Mr. Njoroge, this is a continuous exercise and he is hoping that by next year (2020), the ratio of female to male employees in his firm shall be forty to sixty. In its top management, Adrian has three ladies and four gentlemen, while its board comprises three gentlemen and two ladies. This is unlike many businesses in the country whose boards and top management teams are dominated by men.

Leadership

As the team leader Mr. Njoroge is keen on staying connected with his employees and offering them warm treatment. “I endeavour to honour all the promises I make to my team members and once I do so, they also honour the ones they make to me,” he says.

Also, he updates himself on both the local and international trends in the telecommunications industry in order to offer his company effective leadership. In addition, he ensures that all his customers are given the necessary attention and treatment in order to cultivate their loyalty. “As a homegrown technology company, we face very stiff competition from the multinationals and hence the need to have loyal customers,” he observes. By next year, the company is optimistic of gaining leadership in the regional market.

Further, he says that an organization cannot be grown by the vision bearer alone. “The leader should be able to share his vision with the team members, while giving them space to generate ideas that are beneficial to the organization,” says Mr. Njoroge. “If you micromanage your team members, they cannot blossom,” he adds.

Finally, he observes that leaders should have well grounded strategies that can withstand the test of time. “You cannot build a solid organization by taking short cuts and following the trodden paths,” he ends.

Mr. Njoroge at a glance

. Marital status: married with four children

. Favourite cuisine: beef stew and chapatti

. Hobbies: mentorship and football

. Diary: Wakes up at 5.00 am and reports to work at 7.00 am. By noon, he is through with the office work and he goes to the field.

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