Mariam Abdullahi

2nd March 2018


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Full Name: Mariam Abdullahi

Position: Telecommunications industry lead, SAP Africa

Main Activity of the Company: Enterprise software solutions

Date and Place of Birth: May 18, Nairobi, Kenya

Education: Computer science and business studies, Brunel University, UK

First Job: Delivering newspapers to homes and businesses

Career History Prior to Current Position: I started off my career in the services industry, outsourcing information technology services to Ford Motor Company and its affiliates (Landrover, Jaguar, Aston Martin and later Volvo) in Europe. I also had a year in an Internet start-up in the UK before moving to the Dubai, where I joined Brightpoint, a company that specialised in the distribution of wireless devices and providing customised supply chain services for the wireless industry, as head of Africa business development. I then joined Zain, a Middle East and Africa telecommunications service provider that operated in 23 countries, as head of group customer operations. When Zain sold its Africa operations, I did consulting work with Du, of Dubai, before moving to Africa to join Microsoft and, recently, SAP

Size of First Pay Packet: £5 – paid in cash every week in a little envelop

First Job with Present Group: Africa telecommunications industry lead

Value of Assets under Your Control: Not stated

Number of People under Your Leadership: I am part of the SAP Africa leadership team, which leads a region of 600 employees across the continent

Management Style: Democratic, strategic and transformational

Personal Best Achievement: Helping my seven brothers and sisters graduate

Professional Best Achievement: Choosing the tech industry

Person Who Has Had the Biggest Influence on Your Life: My mother

Person Who Has Had the Biggest Influence on Your Career: Mike Darby, my first boss in the tech industry

Person You Would Most Like to Meet: Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Businessperson Who Has Impressed You Most: Indra Nooyi, chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo; Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and current chairperson of the board of directors of DreamWorks Animation

Philosophy of Life: Work hard, always be humble and be open to learning

Biggest Ever Opportunity: Living and working across many regions and cultures – Europe, the US, the Middle East, Asia and finally relocating back to Africa at such a critical and disruptive time

Biggest Ever Disappointment: None

Hope for the Future: That Africa takes its rightful position in the world economy

Favourite Reading: The Greatness Guide, by Robin Sharma

Favourite TV Programme: Scandal . . . actually, anything by Shonda Rhimes

Favourite Food/Drink: Water . . . okay, I lie, but I need to drink more water

Favourite Music: I have extremely varied music tastes

Favourite Sport: Walking . . . that is a sport, right?

Favourite Website:

Hobbies: Pretending to cook, walking, buying far more books than I actually read and spending quality time with family and friends

Car: Hint hint: ‘Das Auto’

Pets: None

Miscellaneous Dislikes: Inauthenticity, disrespect and arrogance

Favourite other South African Company: The one that invented Appletiser

Favourite Foreign Company: How can I choose one when SAP serves and exposes me to practically every industry and every company on the planet?

Married: Not yet

Children: Not yet

Clubs: Tipwa Tipwa – an exercise and running club in Nairobi

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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