Risper Genga Ohaga shares candid insights with CFOs and other executives


Risper Genga Ohaga, group CFO of EABL, says executives should hold conversations with upcoming professionals in a bid to demystify leadership because leaders are not a special breed who skidded into their positions. 

Risper Genga Ohaga, group CFO of EABL, says executives should hold conversations with upcoming professionals in a bid to demystify leadership because leaders are not a special breed who skidded into their positions. 

“Humanising leaders helps us learn that leadership can be learnt. Further, sharing our authentic stories helps build meaningful connections, inspiring others to be and do more. In a world where good leadership is scarce, we all have to do more to encourage and equip leaders with the right skills for the future. Storytelling is one way of doing this,” Risper explains.

She took part in an event attended by CFOs and other executives held at Romo House over the weekend. Risper was the headline speaker in a conversation with the restaurant proprietor Frank Molla under the Executive Connect banner.

Frank Molla leading the discussion

Dilip Pal, the group CFO of Safaricom, agrees with Risper that storytelling is impactful. He states, “Such sessions enable attendees to draw inspiration from experiencing the genuine person behind the title. Everyone possesses a unique story, which allows you to connect with their journey and understand what shaped them into successful leaders. The conversation feels like an intimate living room chat among friends.”

“The key takeaway was realising the importance of taking responsibility for one's career growth, inspired by Risper’s resilience in overcoming childhood challenges and her deliberate pursuit of professional advancement. She had profound advice on building a personal case before presenting a business case and the importance of family in walking the chosen path together,” he adds.

Dilip Pal

Rachael Gitonga, CFO of ZEP Reinsurance is equally enthralled by Risper’s story. As a young teen, Risper was determined to be a career woman and she credits her loving parents and supportive husband for cheering her all the way. Firm in her principles, she eagerly volunteered for any opportunity to enhance her skills  while at the same time, refusing to compromise on her integrity.

Rachael Gitonga

“Her journey is evidence that your values power you and define your character. The role played by her father is something I fondly relate to. Her story also illustrates the power of spouses who see your mission and support it! Mentorship also featured strongly as Risper’s former boss identified her potential and supported her to be her best. I left with a renewed conviction that my values and support systems are enough to enable me to give the best to humanity,” Rachael says.

Caroline Mackola, CFO of Central Bank of Kenya, notes that Risper herself takes time to mentor her team.

‘I found the session insightful from this standpoint. My key takeaway was that we need to exhibit excellence in all that we do, challenge the norm and seek out opportunities. The unity of purpose and vision with our partners cannot be underscored in our leadership journey,’ Caroline says.

Caroline Mackola

The CFO of Access Bank Kenya Mwende Kausya finds Risper’s love for family to be an inspiration.

“She is an amazing person who teaches us to be unapologetic of our achievements. Her message is pertinent for most women professionals who have trouble self-advocating. For introverts like me, this session was a welcome challenge to contribute and to share our views. Platforms such as these afford us the opportunity to learn from business leaders that we admire,” Mwende says.

Mwende Kausya

As a young finance leader, Leah Kihara appreciates lessons learnt from Risper on board dynamics. The newly-appointed finance director of Trademark Africa notes the importance of controlling one’s emotions during board level interactions.

“Risper also taught the young professionals in the room to prepare adequately for board meetings, which fosters confidence and demonstrates competence. She was calm, articulate and very authentic. I loved her emphasis on a strong support system as one scales the career ladder. I agreed with her view that open communication is a key aspect and that growth in one’s career may require short-term trade-offs for longer term benefits,” Leah explains.

Leah Kihara (left) with Risper Genga Ohaga

Risper encourages CFOs to seek safe spaces where they can share ideas with upcoming leaders and peers.

“Sharing your story is empowering because no one else has your story - it’s uniquely yours. I shared my thoughts on thriving through adversity, leading with heart and making bold career decisions without leaving family behind. The reception was overwhelmingly positive,” she concludes.


Related articles

7 Questions for CFO Emmanuel Mushi

Emmanuel Mushi is the CFO of DHL Express Tanzania. His expertise is bolstered by previous roles as the head of finance at the Tanzanian subsidiaries of Green Resources AS and important contributions at Deloitte & Touche.

Juma Kalutu: the operational CFO

Azam Media CFO Juma Kalutu took on his first leadership role at the age of 29. CFO East Africa recently caught up with the finance executive to find out more about his career journey and future plans.

Group CFO John Githiomi values independence and innovation

As head of finance at then KenolKobil (now Rubis Energy Kenya), John Githiomi participated in investor roadshows in different parts of the world between 2017 and 2018. It was through these engagements that the French energy conglomerate, Rubis, became interested in acquiring KenolKobil and, as John was the custodian of financial information, he found himself at the centre of the acquisition.