As CFO of a law firm comprising more than 75 lawyers, "security dad" Andrew Murimi's philosophy is to treat others as he himself would love to be treated. In his view, empathy is what distinguishes managers from leaders.
Andrew Murimi, CFO of top Kenyan law firm Dentons Hamilton Harrison & Mathews (HHM), is known as the “security dad” at his local church, Mavuno Church Hill City. This is a volunteer position that was created some years back when it was realised that the church needed more vigilant eyes beyond just the hired security personnel to ensure children are collected by the people that brought them to the place of worship. Andrew performs this role alongside other dads who are passionate about taking care of children.
Two of Andrew’s three children play drums at the church and Andrew himself is a lover of music having wanted to become a DJ as a student at Jamhuri High School in the early nineties. He is currently learning how to play the saxophone.
Coming from humble beginnings, he needed a vocation that paid better than spending time as a novice DJ. He took up a job at The Heritage Insurance Company after high school in 1994 and studied towards becoming a CPA before pursuing a bachelor of commerce degree at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. He graduated in 2004 and has since added a University of Nairobi MBA to his academic credentials.
After working as an accountant in other insurance companies, namely Real and Madison, he joined HHM in August 2010 as a senior accountant. He was promoted to CFO in 2016. What keeps him awake at night currently as CFO of the firm is collecting payments from clients.
“During these economically difficult times, it is taking more and more administrative effort to get both local and international debtors to make payments on time. Part of my work involves developing different credit control systems to ensure that the funds we are owed flow in.”
Integrity is pivotal
As CFO of a law firm comprising more than 75 lawyers, Andrew leads a team of 12. His philosophy is to treat others as he himself would love to be treated. In his view, empathy is what distinguishes managers from leaders.
“I also believe in having the same sets of rules for different people and in taking responsibility when things go wrong as much as you do when they go right. Being known as one who dodges bullets makes you lose credibility. In addition, integrity is pivotal as lack thereof leads to financial loss for businesses and an early end to careers,” he says.
“My advice to entry level employees is that they should continue to develop themselves by taking up formal training in college and that they should volunteer for more challenging assignments as a means to adding to their professional value. Avoid having regrets because every mistake is a lesson to learn from and to improve oneself in future,” he adds.
Difficult moments in Andrew’s career include the COVID-19 crisis when productivity was affected as a significant number of the HHM workforce were unable to work remotely.
Furthermore, clients were holding on to cash in order to survive which was detrimental to collections. Andrew was part of the team that crafted a business plan to ensure that the firm survived the crisis.
“I learnt through that process that through teamwork and resilience you can survive the impossible,” Andrew says.
In July, the firm lost one of its most senior partners Kenneth Fraser SC who was instrumental in showing Andrew the ropes when he first joined the firm. It reminded Andrew of a painful family bereavement when he lost his brother in March 2010. “The lesson learnt from these tragedies is that we should spend as much time as possible with those close to us because every good thing comes to an end,” Andrew advises.
When he is not focused on work and family, Andrew reads novels as a form of entertainment. Given his place of work, it comes as no surprise that his favourite author is legal novelist John Grisham and his recommended read is The Firm.