- The struggling company has only recently spent hundreds of millions of shillings on foreign consultants.
- Yet I see him facing a lot of resistance. He will have to display dexterity in dealing with the unions.
I had an opportunity to engage the new Polish CEO of Kenya Airways, Mr Sebastian Mikosz, to get a first-hand insight into the goings-on at the company.
A one-on-one with the new kid on the block such as Mr Mikosz is what allows you to assess things such as focus, sense of urgency and strength of character and whether the man tasked with the herculean task of spearheading the turn-around of the troubled airline has what it takes to deliver.
As we all know, the struggling company has only recently spent hundreds of millions of shillings on foreign consultants.
Just the other day, it was touting how it had hired McKinsey Transformation Recovery Services to prepare a five-year “operational turnaround concept” and “bankable plan” that would radically change its fortunes in the short-term.
They told us that the company had hired London-based debt adviser PJT to develop a financial restructuring concept and long-term capital plan that would completely restructure its balance sheet and turn it into a sustainable long-term business.
My meeting with Mr Mikosz was taking place against the backdrop of unsettling reports about an exodus of long-serving top managers.
Even more sensational were reports that the CEO had hired five consultants from Poland hardly six months after taking over at the debt-ridden firm.
These reports, coming against the background of the departure of long-serving managers, served to stoke nationalistic sentiments that found expression in a statement by the Secretary-General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions, Mr Francis Atwoli, who described the hiring of the experts from Warsaw as unacceptable.
“The current chief executive officer, Mr Mikosz, should bear in mind that Kenya has people more qualified than him and that there is no need for him to hire first-line managers from his own country of origin,” he said.
This is the context and background against which my encounter with Mr Mikosz was happening.
So, the first thing I wanted to hear from him is what he wants to do that has not been done before.
Considering the depth and gravity of the financial woes afflicting the airline, I expected to hear aggressive ideas and assess whether the man from Warsaw would display deep domain knowledge and experience in the aviation industry.
More important, I wanted to see a manager with a crisis mind-set because I have always believed that a successful turnaround plan for Kenya Airways must begin by a candid appreciation that things had gone very wrong for the national carrier.
When the conversation started, it was clear to me that the man has deep domain knowledge of the subject.