Joyce-Ann: From intern to Citi Bank CEO

This article is a serialisation of the book The Journey of Women Trailblazers in Kenya.

Joyce-Ann Muthoni Wainaina

Over a period of nearly 25 years, Joyce-Ann Muthoni Wainaina climbed steadily up the corporate ladder from the position of an intern to that of chief executive officer.

In July 2014, she was appointed CEO of Citibank Kenya and East Africa, and became the first Kenyan to hold that position since the company’s entry into the country in the 1970s.

Wainaina’s extensive career has been marked by many milestones. She joined Citibank as an executive trainee and became a relationship manager when she was absorbed into the company as a full-time employee.

At the time, only one other woman held such a position in the company.

In 2002, she accepted an offer to work at the regional headquarters of Citibank in South Africa.

Nine years later, she became the first woman in the company to be appointed Citi Country Officer (CCO) when she was sent to head Citibank Zambia.

She also served for several years as the CCO for Citibank South Africa. Wainaina has accumulated a wealth of experience in corporate banking, product management, operations and controls.

She also served as vice chairperson of the Bankers Association of Zambia (BAZ).

As the CCO and CEO of Citibank Kenya and East Africa, her responsibilities include heading the management committees and serving as an executive member of the Board of Directors.

In addition to the duties that come with her job, Wainaina serves on several other boards, including the Junior Achievement and the America Chamber of Commerce Association, and as a director at UAP Life Assurance Limited.

She is also a co-founder of J.B. Wanjui Foundation Trust. In recognition of her work, she was named Manager of the Year by the Kenya Institute of Management at the Company of the Year Awards in 2006.

During her journey, Wainaina has acknowledged that it is not easy for a woman in the finance industry, and that when she was appointed regional head of Citibank East Africa, she felt the burden of a pioneer on her shoulders.

This only propelled her to work harder as she was determined to succeed.

In 2015, she observed that there were only three African women in managing director roles across the Citi network in sub-Saharan Africa.

She therefore decided to work towards changing this. Together with a few other female senior executives at Citi, she started a mentoring programme that aimed to equip other women with the right tools and opportunities to succeed in their careers, so that they would not have to struggle as much as she did to get to the top.

This was the beginning of the Sapphire Leadership Programme, a 12-week mentorship programme for women in the Citi fraternity in sub-Saharan Africa.

These women are paired with managing directors across the Citi network who have experience working in Africa, and are provided with new career tools, mentorship and networking opportunities.

The programme fulfils Wainaina’s passion to see other women succeed in the workplace despite the economic, social, and cultural factors that prevent them from rising to the top.

It also helps her fulfil a duty to create more opportunities for female executives across the continent. Her interest in paving the way for the success of others is also evident in her service as a mentor with the Global Give Back Circle (GGBC).

Wainaina continues to encourage women to work hard to increase their opportunities and experience.

She believes that one’s thoughts become their reality and attests to the importance of surrounding oneself with positive people who can help one achieve their goals.

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