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Peter Ndegwa reveals strategy used by big companies when hiring top executives

Drawing from his own experience of being appointed as Safaricom's top boss, Ndegwa demystified the rigorous and often lengthy journey to landing a role at the helm

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa

Hiring for top executive roles was a nuanced process that required careful consideration and strategic planning.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa offered invaluable insights into the sophisticated strategies employed by top companies when recruiting top-tier talent for leadership positions.

In an interview with Phil Director's 'Becoming CEO', Ndegwa delved into the intricacies of executive recruitment, drawing from his own experience and shedding light on the role of headhunters in the process.

Ndegwa emphasised that the process of hiring for top roles was far from simple, often involving lengthy and meticulous procedures.


Contrary to common belief, it was not merely a matter of receiving a phone call. Instead, companies like Safaricom relied on the expertise of headhunters, also known as executive recruiters or search consultants, to identify and approach potential candidates on their behalf.

These headhunters played a pivotal role in executive recruitment, leveraging their networks, research skills, and industry expertise to identify top-tier talent.

Their primary objective was to engage potential candidates discreetly, gauging their interest and suitability for the position before presenting them to the hiring company.


"You can't say I received because it's usually a process...the headhunter comes to you and asks you whether you are interested," Ndegwa explained.

Reflecting on his recruitment journey, Ndegwa provided a firsthand account of the meticulous process involved.

When approached by a headhunter about the opportunity at Safaricom, Ndegwa was initially based in Europe, having accumulated extensive experience in senior roles within large corporations like Diageo, PwC and East African Breweries.


Yet, the proposition of leading Safaricom presented a unique opportunity that eventually drew him back to Kenya from Europe.

Despite his impressive background, Ndegwa emphasised that being noticed by headhunters was not about actively seeking attention but rather about cultivating a profile through one's experiences and achievements.

He advised aspiring executives to be discerning in their approach, focusing on their professional development and aligning their goals with the opportunities that arose.

Furthermore, Ndegwa underscored the importance of maintaining focus and avoiding distractions that might arise from interactions with headhunters.


"First of all, I think headhunters have a way of profiling's not about being noticed, it's whether you listen to them," he shared.

While being approached for top roles could be flattering, it was essential for individuals to remain grounded and prioritize their current responsibilities.



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