Faces of Safaricom - James Maradona

James Maradona isn’t your typical Sales or I.T. guy; he’s somewhere in between that. Once you meet him, you rarely forget him, thanks to his name, and his flair for style and color.

What’s it like being named after a footballing legend? Let’s find out…

18 Feb 2020 . 2,141 Views

What does your role at Safaricom entail?

I handle the implementation of the Digital Transformation Strategy in Market Development, within the Regional Sales and Operations docket. This we do through enablement, process re-engineering and automation.

When we speak of Digital Transformation, it may not always be immediately clear. But what we do is work to deliver and enable sales execution efficiently, effectively and with an unparalleled experience for the customer. Through automation, process re-engineering, digitizing and communicating change we are passionately introducing new norms that are envisioned to turn around the way we plan, execute, report and forecast in General Trade and Distribution.

Important information for the business has to be tracked and made accessible as and when needed, on the go (on a smartphone) and on real time. Executing sales and distribution strategy always has opportunity to be simplified.

We’re dying to ask, and it’s probably a constant question: how does it feel to be named after a football legend? Does this translate to a passion for football?

Ah, my name creates smiles everywhere I go, and it is a good ice breaker when I engage someone for the first time. If I had a choice, I would have picked the name ‘Diego’, but well, you don’t participate in the ‘brand strategy board meeting’ at birth.

I did play a lot of soccer through all my youth while in school, but I hung my boots in 2010.

Your background in Computer Science seems to have led you down a destined path in digital technology. Was this your first study and career choice, or did you have other aspirations?

Other than soccer, my other passion was to understand electronics, how they work, and how to fix them. I loved the science of engineering, and my first love was automotive engineering. One day, I encountered a computer and fell in love with computing and software technology.

What was your career journey before joining Safaricom?

I started by volunteering for four months as a web developer at Big Idea Africa, and this opportunity gave me a chance to study the tech industry. However, sometimes the pay was meagre – a meal in exchange for work.

I moved on to a web master consultant role at CARD (JICA Partner) under Alliance for A Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and then to SHP (Soil Health Programme) as a Database Administrator and Web Specialist.

Soon enough I needed change, and I joined Safaricom Call Center team, then moved to the Enterprise Business Unit (EBU) on internship as an Intranet Development Specialist. This is what propelled me to my Retail Sales Department role as an Information Systems Analyst and moving on to Market Development to handle Channels Systems Delivery in Regional sales and operations.

With all these roles, I now find myself empowered to drive transformation and change through enablement and digital transformation.

We know you love Gospel music – what is this about, did you stumble into it, or have you always had a passion for it?

I am rooted and built up in Christ. I believe that God given gifts are inborn but get discovered when you start connecting with Him. I discovered this back in high school and slowly by slowly I developed a passion towards song writing and ministry. I remember producing my first song “Show Me” in 2009 and was amazed when I heard it on radio.

Later on I found myself writing a jingle for LAP Trust Pension scheme and got paid Kes. 150,000 just after campus – that was a lot of money! I later on wrote a jingle for Safaricom – Sisumua Campaign in 2014 with my colleagues and it was an amazing experience.

Over the years, I have worked with a number of gospel musicians and producers and I continue writing songs. If you need an anthem, jingle, song for your event, campaign, look no further. (Smiles cheekily)

Gifts are oiled by passion and practice to showcase excellence.

With technology a big part of your work life, is it the same at home, or do you switch off the gadgets once you step out of the office?

At home, it’s about taking time off by switching on to a different sphere. More towards knowledge, connecting with great achievers through their content on YouTube and books. These range from Bill Gates to the Late Dr. Myles Munroe; diverse but impactful men. So I don’t always switch off from technology, but utilize it differently. I use these sessions to refuel so that I eventually deliver at work even better.

If you’re looking to the future, what do you predict in terms of office technology and how it makes our work easier?

Office technology has a wide range of innovations, in the immediate which already works in some parts of the world, we are looking at Virtual Device Units where all data and resources are shared from a cloud infrastructure, so there’s minimal use of desktops and laptops.

We are also looking at mobile office use cases where you can access everything and work on it using a smart device (tablet, iPad, smartphone), and improving office security access majorly by utilizing biometric tools such as face, finger, voice and iris recognition.

There is a major shift to Internet of Things (IoT), where office furniture is replaced with digital interactive gadgets like touch screens that are voice and touch responsive on flat surfaces, as well as, robotic process automation where robots handle day to day routine tasks like incident management, order processing and Online chatbots for customer service.

If you had a tech solution you could implement to a current Kenyan problem, what would this be?

I would look at Robotic process automation (RPA) to simplify access to government services.

At port of entry passengers can simply scan their passports and make declarations as they get into the country without manual verification. Lots of man hours are used up to access these services with manual vetting. Using Biometric vetting, Optical character recognition and RPA, routine tasks can be fully automated at Huduma Centers, since the government already has data on its citizens. There is an opportunity to streamline service offering and redirect the human resources into even more transformational projects. This will enhance efficiency, effectiveness and simplify the experience at government agencies.

What other hobbies or activities do you take part in?

It’s amazing what one’s mind can produce when it’s focused on a specific task. I love giving my mind creative tasks around technology strategy, especially mobile application development as well as music production. So, when am not solving a problem in the office or performing my songs, I am creating something. I also discovered it links very well with managing events from official cooperate events at work to outside work. Since am into projects and always driving change conversations, this skill complements my day to day when meeting teams. I have grown into a great MC and it’s all about passion and how you organize yourself.

Is this the point where we give you a shout out for those looking to hire an MC?

Yes, and don’t forget, music is part of the deal too, if you wish!

I will be releasing more music periodically and so to access my content, go to my YouTube channel iTunes, Spotify, mdundo.com, BoomPlay, Amazon Music and enjoy the content. You can also find my songs on SKIZA, just SMS the word SKIZA followed by the below codes one by one to 811 and entertain your callers.

Upendo Wako – [SMS] SKIZA 7635690 Send to 811

Good To Me – [SMS] SKIZA 7635685 Send to 811

Celebrate – [SMS] SKIZA 7635684 Send to 811

You can also find me across social media channels under JMB Gospel Son.

There you have it: tech, football and music, all rolled into passion for life!

Don’t forget to check out James’ YouTube Channel!

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