Chris Rumenda: General Manager, Chega Marketplace
Identifying what stage of a business’s growth you thrive in, developing a sense of ownership in a role, and distinguishing your friendship style from your leadership style
About our Guest
This episode’s conversation is with Chris Rumenda from Kenya. He currently serves as the General Manager of the Shega Marketplace, an e-commerce platform in Ethiopia, run by Kifiya Financial Technology. Prior to moving to Ethiopia, Chris worked at Jumia Kenya for over 5 years, rapidly rising within the company and taking on different roles, including as Head of Marketplace and Head of Jumia University. Chris defines himself as a builder and a creator in that he picks ideas and people with huge potential and helps them grow.
Everyday Leadership in Action
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Chris:
Distinguish your friendship style from your leadership style: When Chris first took on a team leadership role while at Jumia, he found himself directly supervising several team members that he already considered as close friends. In order to prevent bias and cause perceptions of favoritism, he listened closely for related feedback that came up in performance reviews and began taking more time to more clearly document important feedback early on with his team members. By providing all of his team members with frequent feedback, both positive and constructive, there was less room for the risk of misinterpretation and doubts.
Develop a sense of ownership to unlock innovative solutions: When we joined, Chris really wanted Jumia to succeed in Kenya, and was very candid in his feedback about the need to better include more local vendors, among other things. Because he was direct and specific with his feedback, leaders at the company were able to recognize his authenticity and embrace his contributions. As a result, he quickly grew within the company, earning promotions frequently, which is not always guaranteed even at a high-growth company.
Identify what stage of a business’s growth you thrive in: Over the years, Chris realized that as Jumia’s business in Kenya matured, the day-to-day became less exciting for him, despite the impact they were achieving at such a large scale. Upon reflection, he knew he deeply valued the experience he had and the managers who supported him, but also realized that he preferred the early days of building the country operations. He used this realization as motivation for pursuing his next role in Ethiopia to build the Shega marketplace there. He now views his current role as an opportunity to build other leaders around him. He says that he will be comfortable moving on from this role as soon as his presence is no longer vital to the survival of the business.
The Everyday Leader is a podcast featuring conversations with leaders from across Africa’s companies, organizations, and governments about their experience managing teams and projects throughout their careers.
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