Josephine Njoroge, the CFO of DHL Express in Kenya and Tanzania, was presented with the incredible opportunity to work in Tanzania. She describes her more memorable experiences in this CFO East Africa exclusive insight.
I am currently serving as the CFO of DHL Express in Kenya and Tanzania, since February 2018, where I've had the opportunity to demonstrate my financial leadership and expertise.
Prior to this role, I worked as a finance transition manager for DHL Express in Mauritius from November 2014 to January 2018, and in that capacity, I played a crucial role in optimising financial operations. My international experience includes a role as project manager in global performance management in Bonn, Germany, from April 2011 to October 2014, where I had the opportunity to showcase my project management skills and gain a global perspective in the logistics industry.
In 2018, I was presented with an incredible opportunity to step into the role of acting CFO for DHL in Tanzania, a position that came with a one-year pending confirmation clause, due to the rigorous work permit processing and an arduous onboarding process. This arrangement required me to commute between my host countries at the time, Mauritius and Nairobi, depending on work commitments. It wasn't until 2019 that I was able to fully settle into Dar es Salaam, and from that point forward, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the captivating culture of Tanzania. Our business operations spanned across major cities and localities, including Arusha, Mwanza, Kigoma, and Zanzibar, among others.
Although my home base is once again in Kenya, my initial experiences of Tanzania remain embedded and I revisit some of them here for you.
The hunt for accommodation was an intriguing challenge, as the market was flooded with listings left behind by the exodus of expatriates. I eventually found a quiet neighborhood not too far from our offices, conveniently close to social amenities, and just a stone's throw from the refreshing ocean breeze and soothing sandy shores for weekend getaways.
To fill the quiet hours of long weekends, I embraced a new hobby at the local TPDF Lugalo Golf Course, following the advice of skilled local and expatriate golfers. Little did I know that I had a knack for the sport until the local pro showed me how to perfect my swing and hit those fairways – the sheer joy of it!
Tanzania's work culture demanded swift integration into a vibrant and extensive network of individuals spanning various professions, business sectors, and service providers. Keeping one's ears to the ground was essential for seizing business opportunities that constantly arose for those who were keen and well-connected. I actively participated in professional organisations like the Tanzania Association of Women Certified Accountants (Tawca) and the National Board of Accountants and Auditors (NBAA), and I also explored a new forum, the Masaki ToastMasters Club, a platform dedicated to improving public speaking and presentation skills — an experience I wholeheartedly recommend.
Regarding the ease of doing business, my tenure in Tanzania coincided with numerous government initiatives that fostered transparency and a strong compliance culture across all business environments in the country. This, combined with an expansionary mindset, created an environment ripe for SME-focused growth, particularly in upcountry market segments. In our business, we even discovered and expanded markets like the international "dagaa" export market for the residents of Kigoma, as well as the export of seaweed and exotic spices from the island of Zanzibar, which attracted more competition once established.
The social scene in this lively city beckoned me to a variety of engagements, from cozy coffee shop catch-ups with newfound friends to attending the occasional weekend wedding festivities in Dar. Tanzania's delectable food culture was one of my absolute favourites, offering a diverse range of culinary delights.
Whether it was indulging in coastal dishes, savouring seafood platters, enjoying fresh tilapia from Lake Victoria, or relishing nyama choma sessions in Moshi, the food experiences were unforgettable. Not to be forgotten are the food stalls that dotted Coco Beach in Oysterbay, serving some of the tastiest bites in town. Now, I can only reminisce and dream of the sights, the food, and the wonderful people of this beautiful country as I reflect on the good times of my first experiences – until my next visit.