I was born in 1968, in the Port City of Takoradi, Ghana. I was a happy child with lots of energy and equally loads of mischief. As a young child, I would apparently stop the traffic near my home to show off my dancing skills to the motorists. I’m not sure where these dancing skills vanished to in my later years. Talking to strangers was also easier for me than it is now. Overall, my early years were great and I wish I could remember every minute of that decade.
During the early 1980s, however, Ghana went through a difficult time, changing my life forever. Our family’s economic position dropped dramatically, causing my parents to seek greener pastures in Nigeria and the UK, leaving me behind to finish my education. During this time, I learnt the value of maintaining relationships over long distances, which I still do today. I’ve even managed to get my mum onto social media in her later years, enabling us to ‘connect’ regularly and allowing a more personal view into each other’s lives despite the distance! During this time, I also learnt the value of volunteerism, selflessness, independence, humility, and the need for an enduring vision and focus. These lessons carried me through my university years and into AIESEC, a student organisation which opened the door to me becoming the Director for Africa and Global VP Finance based in Brussels, and exposed me to over 30 countries in just two years.
My career continued in 1995 when I joined another Big 4 firm in Kenya and Tanzania for a few years, before joining Deloitte in Dar es Salaam in 2001 as a Senior Consultant. Here I started my greatest challenge of finding and retaining the best talent, building deeper relationships, and always seeking ways to make our clients happy.
I anticipate multiple challenges, but also foresee many opportunities, which will help us to grow the potential of East Africa.
My heart has always been rooted in East Africa, and Deloitte has been like a big, extended, second family to me, so it has been a truly humbling experience to accept the role of Deputy CEO, Deloitte East Africa.
I am keenly aware of the challenges that this region faces. For many years, Deloitte has actively engaged with shaping the future of East Africa, with wide coverage in the sectors where concerns have been flagged, as well as where potential is fertile. I’m positive that we will continue to grow our footprint and to impact the region positively across the board.
We have served several clients in the private sector with distinction, and through various programmes and initiatives we have also been able to have an impact on our communities in areas such as infrastructure, education and skills development, health, energy and resources, financial services and agriculture.
We have assisted most of the large oil and gas companies with their entry into East Africa, and we continue to provide them with top-class tax and other advisory services.
Our mark in the infrastructure and construction space in East Africa can be seen in our involvement with the recently inaugurated bus rapid transit system in Dar es Salaam and the ongoing construction of the Nyali Bridge in Mombasa.
In terms of education and skills development, we were described as the standard of excellence in the YALI centres across the four sub-regions in Africa. We continue to be instrumental in ensuringthe delivery of high-quality, cost-effective education facilities either through our audit of schools in Kenya or the quality of the due diligences that helps our clients make decisions around education.
In the health sector we have worked with USAID in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and delivered three of the major health programmes in the region managing a cumulative budget of over $300 million in the last 10 years.
These are all great achievements, and it tells us that what matters most is our people, our clients, and the impact that we can have in our broader communities.
With so many programmes and projects happening across the region, and so many talented teams to work with at Deloitte, it is difficult for me to narrow down my focus areas in the coming months.
But I will say that top of mind is to ensure that we serve the best clients across industries and work closely with all our clients to make them successful and impactful.
Working AS ONE will continue to be my mantra, because we serve our clients better if we work AS ONE. We realise that to remain relevant and bring about the impact that is so needed on our continent, we need to be at the forefront of change. I look forward to finding new ways to support significant changes within our private-sector clients, and also working with governments to enable them to care for their citizens.
I remember the mentorship I received in Ghana while my parents were overseas, and it made me passionate about developing the capacity of our young people in Africa.
An area I feel most passionate about is my elevated responsibility to act as a role model for young professionals and to develop new leaders within and outside the firm. As a firm that prides itself on recognising and hiring the best talent, I’m eager to continue this effort and to see a greater impact in our communities by employing outstanding talent in the region and nurturing them to help them grow to their full potential. Indeed attracting the best talent is a competitive advantage in our business, but unleashing that talent will be key.
I intend to build deeper relationships with premier African universities and education programmes and will remain committed to developing the best professionals who can serve not only Deloitte but other organisations.
I look forward to working closely with the teams in the East Africa region, and also further afield as Deloitte Africa continues to unify its vision and its reach across the continent. While I’m confident that we will– through hard work and a commitment to our values– overcome the challenges that await us, I just as eagerly anticipate the unique opportunities that I will encounter on this new journey, because I know I will not walk it alone.
Read more on Joe’s appointment here