CFO Stephen Kimani focuses on finance that can change lives


At 30 years old, Pathcare Kenya CFO Stephen Kimani is one of the youngest people in the organisation. He has been able to command the respect of his colleagues by ensuring that he demonstrates expert knowledge.

Pathcare is Kenya’s first internationally accredited medical laboratory with over 150 employees and is based in 43 labs and collection centres. At the helm of the finance function is Stephen Kimani, who joined the company in December 2022 after two years at Equity Bank as a group business performance assistant manager. Prior to that he worked for KPMG as an auditor for five years.

Academically gifted, Stephen was the top student in his graduating class at the University of Nairobi in 2016. He achieved first class honours in his Bachelor of Commerce degree and is currently pursuing an MBA at the same institution.

“Along this journey, I have learned a lot, especially the importance of making first impressions when working with new people," Stephen says, “I have also learnt that as a CFO you have to stay ahead of the pack and not get complacent. In business, when things are going well, that is the time when you need to be most alert because trouble is not far away.”

Stephen says his success is partly thanks to surrounding himself with mentors and advisors. While at Equity Bank, he witnessed the way the group CEO Dr James Mwangi works.

“He surrounds himself with the smartest people and this is the reason why he has become an African business icon. I similarly try and purposefully think about the people I surround myself with. If I can use an analogy from the Bible, I like to have a Paul to guide me, a Barnabas to work alongside me and a Timothy to mentor and uplift.”

Stephen took on the role of CFO at Pathcare Kenya at the age of 29, as the company began its expansion drive, which has presented the CFO with the significant challenge of preserving cash. He notes that cash is king and he has been motivating his team to focus on maintaining adequate liquidity during these difficult economic times.

“When cash flow isn’t optimum, you will find everyone is looking to you as the CFO to fix the problem. This includes employees, suppliers and fellow management. It is at this point that you need to have great communication and negotiation skills. You also need to employ proper planning to ensure that the problem does not recur.”

Now 30, Stephen is one of the youngest people in the organisation. He has been able to command the respect of his colleagues by ensuring that he demonstrates expert knowledge.

“You have to earn respect from the team and ensure you implement leadership strategies that foster sharing of knowledge because they know more than you in some areas. One of the things I instituted within the finance function is that every first Friday of the month, we have training facilitated by team members themselves.”

Revolutionary change

In every organisation that Stephen has worked in, he has looked at how he could use his role in finance to change lives. This is particularly applicable at Pathcare, which operates in the medical field.

“I am working hard to change the perception that finance is a back-office function that is far removed from the operations of the business. I repeatedly ask myself how can we bring about revolutionary changes that improve the company and help us better deliver to our clientele?”

Some of the additional questions that Stephen ponders is how to use technology to improve service delivery to a sick mother in the village. Could the company, for example, use a drone to pick up a sample and speedily deliver it to the laboratories for testing? Ensuring that the organisation is providing the best service is one of his deepest desires.

“The laboratory industry has some particular nuances that the leadership team has to be cognisant of for us to be competitive. You may buy a piece of equipment today and tomorrow a better instrument is released that performs the same test at a cheaper price. The medical space is ever changing with new inventions coming out every day. We are also in the age of AI and those in our field who incorporate it into our processes will have a competitive advantage,” he explains.

Beyond technology, Stephen works alongside the managing director of Pathcare to formulate winning strategies. A critical aspect of this is being able to measure the results of the strategy and the impact of interventions on the business. Heading the finance department and being a strategy leader means that Stephen has to have intricate knowledge of every facet of the business.

“There are three things I have learnt in my short time here. Firstly, the customer is always king and ensuring that they have world-class service is how we continue to grow. Secondly, you never arrive when it comes to learning; you need to always seek to discover and understand more. Lastly, always reach out for help within and outside the organisation; I often call CFOs in our industry to tap into their expertise.”

Stephen and his wife have recently had a child and he finds that spending time with family helps him disconnect from the rigours of his job. He enjoys taking long drives on the weekend, which is a departure from his weekday routine as he often cycles to work.

“I have a hybrid bike which I cycle 16 kilometres from home to the office and back again at least three times a week. Because my job keeps me so busy, I don’t have time to go to the gym so this is the best way to have work-life integration. Cycling keeps me fit and I also arrive at work feeling fresh and energised,” he concludes.

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