Dr.Chris Diaz: Global leader connecting Africa to the world

‘Creativity is innovating our lifestyle and communication in a differentiated way yet having fun in all we do.’- Chris Diaz, Director of Brand Kenya. www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB_oxNmikjk&feature=youtu.be

Kenya and Africa continues to make positive moves in the Brands and markets every other day. More people are realising the potential that we possess as African people and more so the power of our youth. It is therefore important for them to learn and develop their leadership,and how they can manage different brands, be it personal, national, entrepreneurship or corporate.

Chris Diaz was born at the Kenyan coast in Mombasa. He then went to the University of Nairobi where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce(Finance). While pursuing his undergraduate, he got job opportunities from Unilever and Price Water House Coopers (PwC).After completing university, he pursued a diploma with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in the UK. He also pursued Masters in International Marketing in the UK.

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He is passionate about tourism, marketing Kenya and Africa, Sports, Fashion, Happy Healthy Living, good nutrition and exercise touching lives of the millennials and generation X and Z.

“I encourage young people at the university to find where their passion lies,” he says.

“I changed my career from finance to marketing. This is where my passion was but the financial experience was important in enhancing my budgeting, planning, accounting and crunching numbers.”

International marketing gave him the chance to be a global marketer and he did very well with the Chartered Institute of Marketing body certifications.He was the first African to join the Chartered Institute of Marketers board in London where he served for three years as the director and Trustee of the largest marketing professional institution which is over 105 years old. This exposed him to new markets and allowed him to engage with people from different cultures, languages and nationalities.

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His ability to manage global brands gave him the chance to grow his skills in marketing fast moving consumer goods and build a strong personal brand. He has been awarded a Warriors Award by the Marketing Society of Kenya because of building strong national and African brands. In 2011, the Marketing Society of Kenya recognised him as a Fellow of the Marketing Society of Kenya. This followed the earlier formation by the Chartered Institute of Marketing also recognised him on the fellows board. That was a first for him because he was the first from Africa to be recognised by both boards as a credible marketing voice and double fellow.

“I continue to spend most of my time inspiring, engaging and encouraging the youth in universities to pursue marketing as a career. I have done this across Africa in universities such as the United States International University and Strathmore University. I have also had the opportunity to speak in the top Universities including Harvard, Columbia University and Oxford. I also coach and teach during my free time and I love mentoring upcoming marketers,” he adds. He has also been appointed an executive fellow at the Strathmore University.

Diaz recognises that the future lies in young people and thus emphasises the importance of marketing in acquiring new customers, attaining current business and growing revenue.

He encourages people to be entrepreneurs so as to lead their own organizations. It is noteworthy that technology, e-commerce and digital marketing and platforms on social media will change the business strategies fast.

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He has other roles in the Brand Kenya and Brand Africa boards. His duty is to market Kenya as a brand globally. ‘We have many National campaigns and stakeholder engagements to position Kenya as a great economic nation. This transforms lives and attracts investments. We also use the Brand Kenya platform to market the country globally through different events and conferences across the world be it in tourism or investments.

Brand Kenya Board
Brand Kenya Board

“My challenge is for Africa markets to increase intra-Africa tourism. Africa attracts up to 60 million tourists annually from Africa and the rest of the world.Kenya gets just over a million tourists. We need more tourism revenue and need to create our markets as excellent tourist destinations. I was recently in the Seychelles and their marketing and number of tourists is much bigger and well organized for an island of only 100,000 national citizens.”

Fort Jesus
Fort Jesus

The developments in Trade and great opportunities across Africa complements his role in Brand Africa; the Pan-African body marketing the continent.

As a much sought thought leader and speaker, we team up to change agendas and encourage trade, advocate policies to benefit African markets and consumers.

In regional events such as the African forums we are encouraging creation of more opportunities especially for young leaders. As Africa, we need to expand our rules and economic free trade zones to increase market power and value addition and trade between nations.

“I am a strong believer of – Buy Africa, Build Africa. Therefore, we should emphasize on Buy Kenya, Build Kenya because we have high quality products that can compete in the global space. Research shows over 25% of African products are competing with global brands and gaining new market shares,” adds Diaz.

He notes that the youth need to prepare themselves to brand the African continent through getting international certifications in marketing and focus on digital marketing experience in corporates and public organizations.

With Brand Kenya Board Chair Dr. Chris Kirubi
With Brand Kenya Board Chair Dr. Chris Kirubi

“I point direction towards Kenya Private sector in partnership is a successful body creating partnerships and networking with the members for job opportunities is a strong lead for the youth of Kenya for example among other bodies across the continent.”

Millennials can get marketing degrees so that they can be positioned in business jobs in the corporate sector. The youth need to use new digital skills and platforms to talk about Africa and Kenya so as to engage with the international audience.They can join business forums online to network in various social media channels such as LinkedIn which has industry and marketing groups. They can connect and engage with marketers and CMOs who are willing to support in connecting with jobs.

The youth should be strong in this journey of attaining experience before leaping forward into entrepreneurs so as to have the multi-skilled experience to run their organizations.

The Kenyan government has invested substantial budget for marketing the country.Other countries such as South Africa and the U.K. have successfully marketed their countries and have improved their nation branding index.

The government is allowing the young people to engage with others by giving them a chance to run social media communications. ‘Magical Kenya’ is positioning Kenya as an inbound tourism destination. Brand Kenya, Kenya Invest and the Kenya Tourism Board are teaming up to market Kenya as a top tourism and business investment centre.

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“Domestic tourism creates employment and brings billions of shillings into the country. Therefore, environmental conservation is very important. It is critical for young people to be proud of their country and destinations such as the Maasai Mara, Mount Kenya and the coast. I challenge the youth to work with the Kenya Wildlife Services and other wildlife and environmental bodies. These engagements bring a lot of change and satisfaction especially as we are passionate to protect our wildlife assets and heritage.”

#WorthMoreAlive
#WorthMoreAlive

More people need to visit the national parks and see the wildlife so as to contribute to the revenue and the country’s heritage.

Diaz continues to wear many conservation hats as he supports Kenya Wildlife Services. He is also a board member with Wildlife Direct which is involved in pushing the agenda for protection, sustainability, biodiversity, wildlife and environmental protection.

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The country and the continent, is facing tremendous pressure in terms of the availability of wildlife. There are only about 6000 cheetahs left, a few thousand rhinos with only three white northern rhinos and the number of lions continues to reduce. Across the continent, there are very few elephants left in the wild. This is very sad for the world!

Diaz persistently encourages people to conserve the wildlife for the future generation.

The biggest challenge comes about in managing human-wildlife conflict. There have been efforts to pursue electric fencing. He continues to emphasize that young people must champion for an end to the sale of wildlife trophies such as elephant tusks.

“Animals are innocent and beautiful beings that do not have a chance to protect themselves. However, God has blessed us and therefore it is our duty to protect them,” he says.

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His passion in environmental conservation is also seen in his work at Bidco Africa. They are working towards planting one million Bamboo trees in collaboration with Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

With Prof. Judy Wakhungu, CS; Environment and natural resources
With Prof. Judy Wakhungu, CS; Environment and natural resources

“We have been teaming up with organisations such as the Green Belt Movement and the Kenya Forest Service.”

While at Kenya Airways, he was able to initiate a tree planting project that saw over a million trees planted at the Ngong’ Forest which has matured into a wildlife forest.

Global achievements

In 2016, Chris was recognised in the World Marketing Congress as one of the best marketers in the world. In April 2017, he became the Global Modern Marketing Leader of the year, a first for Africa to beat the other countries in the world. This gives him the inspiration to keep doing more.

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“My joy is to coach young people and see them achieve more than I have,” he points out.

Given the fact that he is a global marketer, he can fit into any industry and thus he has worked for many brands such as Bidco Africa where he is a board member and as Group Sales and Marketing Director.

“We are recruiting the best sales force to join our expansions and new businesses. Bidco Africa is driven as a marketing-led FMCG and a successful corporate with over 32 years in Africa as an industry leader.”

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There is fierce competition in the multi-consumer goods sector.Chris was also at Kenya Airways and is very good when it comes to opening new markets and building new and existing brands. He served in the Marketing Board of Sky Team Airlines. All these are opportunities for growth and training and developing marketing teams. The journey has been exciting for him and he aims to see many more join the marketing and customer experience industry.

As a result of the population increase, FMCG corporates are expanding fast. 

“I enjoy touching millions of consumers daily with new healthy products driving a favourable healthy lifestyle.”

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About personal life,Chris is passionate about sports as he comes from a family that loves sports. He used to be on the road cycling for team Kenya. He is also the patron of the Kenya Hockey Team. He is involved in golf and helps to bring sponsorship into sports. While at Kenya Airways, he helped find sponsorship for the rugby team to fly abroad and represent the country in Rio. He also assists in creating programs such as coaching to support young sports men and women. He keeps fit by going to the gym three to four times a week.

With the Rugby team
With the Rugby team

Reading and writing are areas he likes to focus on. He used to be the editor in chief of his university magazine. Soon, he will be launching a book.

“Writing brings out the experiences and expectations of people and thus they are able to come together as one community.”

He reads many books including those written by Richard Branson who is a great inspiration to him.

His challenge to the youth is to find opportunities for entrepreneurship such as launching apps which can allow people to use technology in marketing. He looks up to many people in entrepreneurship depending on the values and sectors they are good in. He admires those who are leading the use of renewable energy such as solar power.

In ten years, he would like to see more African youth working with the government to create jobs. He notes that now they can work from home.

“Social media influencer management is very important now. Young people can help corporates to promote brands and even work as brand ambassadors by endorsing the agenda of a company to earn money,” he advises.

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He would like to see young Africans pushing the African platform. He believes in gender diversity and leadership. By engaging in platforms such as AISEC, young people can prepare themselves for further leadership roles.Dr. Diaz is very passionate about family and has two sons.

“It is important to love what you do and do what you love for passion is the key that opens the door to joy and abundance. I have never worked in my life because I enjoy what I do,” Chris Diaz concludes.

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