Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Kirubi Named to Prestigious Harvard Advisory Council

Leading businessman Chris Kirubi has been appointed to the Harvard University Global Advisory Council alongside two other individuals from Africa and several leaders from the West.

The celebrated business leader received the honorary appointment from the institution's president and he will be tasked with advising him on how best to pursue Harvard's global strategy in the region which could help shape policies that guide the world's economies.

A visibly excited Kirubi explained that the appointment would help him push the institution's agenda in Africa and in Kenya, in particular, to help the continents' students benefit from the high quality of education offered.

"My appointment at Harvard came as a surprise because it is a global appointment. The president appointed three people from Africa and others from Brazil, Canada, America, Germany, India and China," he said.

"They felt that we could globalise the role of Harvard so I am greatly honoured and humbled," he said on Thursday.

Kirubi added that he would use his new appointment to ensure that more African students, who were bright enough for the institution, got opportunities to learn at the school.

The entrepreneur, who described the appointment as the greatest in life, also urged the government to support students who qualified for positions in such institutions saying he would push the same agenda to high level government figures in the region.

He also said that he would push for partnerships between local universities and Harvard University with an aim of creating more opportunities for Kenyan students.

"Harvard University does not just want money but they need first class brains. It is very important for the Kenyan government to support students who go to first class universities the way they support students who go to local universities," he urged.

Kirubi, who is a graduate of Harvard's Business School, further criticised the country's education system saying authorities pushed students to acquire good certificates without necessarily ensuring that students had the necessary skills required to navigate life.

He challenged the government to segment students and set up special schools for students who were extremely bright to ensure that they achieved their optimum level.

"When you put winners in the same basket as everybody else they end up becoming ordinary. We mix very bright students with D students who completely bring them down because they do not challenge them," he argued.

Kirubi also told Kenyan students to push themselves to the limit reminding them that he did not grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth.

He further emphasised the need to carry a positive mindset even when times are tough and not to get into a comfort zone.

"I was born to very ordinary parents who laboured for their living and they passed on even before I got into primary school so I grew up as an orphan and survival was not a choice," he said.

"When you put winners in the same basket as everybody else they end up becoming ordinary. We mix very bright students with D students who completely bring them down because they do not challenge them."

"The only gift my parents left me was my brain," he noted.

The Capital Group Chairman's first job was as a clerk for the Kenya Railways Association where he had to arrange files to earn enough money to take care of his younger siblings.

"Even when I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel I knew there was a way and I believe the greatest achievers are people who are tested from day one because I think the best university is life," he recollected.

He added that it was important to have a plan and sense of direction in life in order to reach great heights.

"You know they say someone who has no direction and who has no destination does not get lost because they are going nowhere so you have to set your goals," he added.

Kirubi has been to several universities throughout the world including one in Sweden, another in Australia, in Gothenburg and in France. He has also worked for several organisations including government agencies but he never kept one job for more than two years.

"This is because I did not believe in working in one place for more than two years. I had to move on because I felt like somebody was holding my progress. However you have to be very careful with any changes you make because they must be for the better," he says.

"You must know what you want to become at the end," he concluded.

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