14 October 2012

Tanzania: Bogus CEOs, Hods, Whatever Is in a Title


I am the Owner, Founder, CEO, Partner and Managing Director. I am also the Head of Department (HOD) handling everything that this company is doing.

Additionally, I am the Director and General Manager and Officer In Charge as a whole. I was bedazzled with this introduction last week when I met a few people in the hope of doing something. Titles, and not just small titles that we are all used to and can safely guess the job description behind them, but the big ones that you only associate with dollars, designer clothes, cigars and private lounges.

In the international corporate arena, a CEO and HOD will enter a meeting dressed in an expensive designer suit and smell so good, you will leave smelling like them. A partner will offer breakfast or lunch depending on the circumstance of the meeting. He or she will also tell you about his or her recent trip to Europe to visit his or her children in their school in Switzerland.

A HOD will charm you for a while, tell you about the number of times he or she has been on TV this week. Then he or she will leave the meeting quickly to rush for the radio interview after telling you about the meeting with other HODs over discussions to introduce a revolutionary new service across Tanzania. However, these are not the chaps I met.

Yes one was a 'Founder' and the other was a 'CEO' but really nothing about them said this. First, I could have bet all the cash I had in my wallet that neither of them could tell me the long form of CEO. nor explain to me in simple terms what qualifies a person to hold the title of 'founder'.

Yet they spoke and I listened attentively, trying to not let what I saw dictate whatever potential this meeting could hold. The meeting ended and promise of further communication followed. The first email was from the 'CEO' and I can say that for certain. The sender ID confirmed it was his name but that is all I can confirm.

The content of the email gave me a headache trying to interpret. I opted to move the communication to verbal. Words and expressing yourself through sentences is not for everyone, even for this CEO. He handed me over to the HOD who was now to tell me about my role. He called for a meeting at a local joint and when I found him, he had gone a few brown bottles too many.

This is when I knew this wasn't for me. I went home saying the word magumashi over and over again. It is not just these two that I have encountered who hold big titles but in fact have nothing to show for it. It is only when you undertake work with them that you realize that the 'emptiest tins make the most noise.'

And the worst is that 9 out of 10 times, the guys who give themselves these titles do not know what comes with the title. Yes, they wake up on a weekday and give themselves these titles. The biggest comedy show ever would be to place these would be magumashi CEOs, Founders and Partners with the CEOs, Founders and Partners of the international arena.

Let's say there was a worldwide meeting of CEOs and if by any chance you called yourself a CEO, then you had to attend. So you'd have Google CEO Larry Page, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and this chap who can't even compose a simple email. And while the other CEOs would be suave in their tailor-made suits, this magumashi CEO would be fighting his oversize Magomeni-kwa-Mzee-Ali purchased jacket.

He would also have a face towel fitted on the back of his neck to catch any sweat. The meeting would be called off and the CEOs would quickly disperse once they got a whiff of his body odor. It wouldn't end well. But I asked myself why the big titles? Does a 'Founder' or CEO before your name make you more important?

Perhaps, more relevant? Are we to believe what you say more because of the title? Does a title make the man or woman? The long awaited report was released early this week. Yes, THAT REPORT detailing what happened on that fateful day in Iringa. I can bet THAT REPORT was written by someone who is a CEO in one company, a partner in another and a Managing Director in his spare time.


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