With a surname like Kerich, it surprises no one in his rural Bomet that Baraka is working for a hospital group today (kerich means medicine in the Kipsigis language). But the CFO of Gertrude’s Hospital Group did not see this coming.
With a surname like Kerich, it surprises no one in his rural Bomet that Baraka is working for a hospital group today (kerich means medicine in the Kipsigis language).
But Baraka Kerich, CFO of Gertrude’s Hospital Group did not see this coming. He studied actuarial science at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, graduating in August 2012. He is also a CPA(K) and certified professional in Healthcare Quality.
Baraka worked for Deloitte for close to three years in the audit division, before joining Gertrude’s internal audit department in April 2015.
“Over time I was charged with creating better systems within the hospital to enable them to talk to each other seamlessly. This means that a laboratory test would have results sent to the doctor, and to the treatment and the billing transmitted to insurers at the same time for payment. It has involved a lot of partners and we are continuing to move towards 100 percent automation of our processes,” Baraka explains.
Passion and belief
In 2018, when he was only 29 years old, Baraka was appointed CFO, responsible for managing a very big team stretching across the 18 sites nationally. In addition to finance, he is also responsible for ICT, credit control and procurement.
“Leadership is easier when you have a good team in place and you let them do their work without hovering over them. I am passionate about my job because I have a strong belief in the work that we do. If you do not believe in the vision and mission of the organisation you work for, you cannot achieve success,” he says.
The cause he refers to is that of healthcare for children as envisioned by the founders of the charitable trust in 1947. The hospital is a registered not-for-profit trust that reinvests all its income to the improvement of paediatric healthcare in East Africa. The group handles the full suite of healthcare, from treating common colds to open heart surgeries and chemotherapy for cancer.
“We may be a charitable trust but that does not mean we do not balance our books to remain sustainable. Part of the challenges I face as CFO is managing partners to ensure that debtor days relating to payers are in check. In addition, our patients are mainly Kenyan and therefore we have very little in hard currency receipts, and yet the equipment we use in the hospitals is imported,” he adds.
An element of luck
The COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for the majority of sectors of the economy and hospitals were not exempted as people shied away from clinics. Healthcare providers had to think outside the box by introducing delivery services to homes and having tele-consultations. Implementing these measures with a dedicated team helped weather the storm.
“When I think of the more challenging moments in this job, the pandemic period has to be it,” he says. “The highlight is the work we have done in improving systems that talk to each other end to end. From the moment a patient arrives, to the moment tests are done to when the items are approved to administer treatment, this is all automated. This is important because when things are done manually like typing in test results, there could be errors in patient care.”
Baraka was named one of the top 40 Kenyans under the age of 40 by Business Daily Africa. He says the secret to his career success has been exhibiting diligence in all that he does.
He also admits that there has been an element of luck; being at the right place at the right time. In the words of Zig Ziglar, success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.
Baraka is married and is a father of three girls. He is a travel junky and petrol head; few things excite him more than long drives in his turbo diesel vehicle.