Agnes Gathaiya: A Transformational Business Leader Driving Digital Growth in East Africa
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Profiles - August 4, 2023

Agnes Gathaiya: A Transformational Business Leader Driving Digital Growth in East Africa

Agnes Gathaiya, the Google Country Director for East Africa, is a seasoned business leader with over 24 years of experience in driving organisational development and implementing competitive strategies to boost sales and operational efficiency. Her impressive professional journey began at Loreto Convent Valley Road and took her to Bryn Mawr College in the United States, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics.

The Journey

Growing up in a family of four children, Agnes learned the importance of hard work, integrity, and consistency from her father, a civil and structural engineer, and her mother, who served as a midwife and would later dedicate herself to farming. After completing her studies in the United States, Agnes returned to Kenya, where she embarked on her job hunt and eventually secured a position at Deloitte, a prestigious accounting, taxation, auditing, and financial services advisory firm.

Agnes spent 13 years at Deloitte, working on various assignments with renowned organizations in Kenya. This experience exposed her to diverse corporate environments and equipped her with the skills to drive transformations and align business strategies with corporate objectives. She also gained valuable insights into turnaround strategies for distressed or receivership-managed firms. By the time she left Deloitte, Agnes had become an Associate Director, contributing to the firm’s status as one of the most sought-after consultancies in the country.

From Growth and Impact

Following her successful tenure at Deloitte, Agnes joined SAP, a German multinational software company, as the Public Sector Director. Her role quickly evolved into overseeing SAP’s Large Enterprise business in the region, where she achieved remarkable sales growth and spearheaded the Skills for Africa program to enhance accessibility to SAP certification. 

“In the first year, we achieved sales growth of 250 percent and from there, SAP continued to scale up and gain increasing market share by the year,” Agnes recalls. “We also looked at the market and realised that the cost of certification of SAP practitioners was not very accessible and so I set up the Skills for Africa program. I take pride in watching the careers of the first cohort of 100 graduates. The program then was rolled out to other countries.”

However, the demanding travel schedule posed challenges for Agnes as a single mother, leading her to transition to roles closer to home. She briefly served as General Manager for the public sector at Chase Bank before joining Safaricom as the Head of Enterprise Sales for Small and Medium Enterprises.

“The best part of this job (Safaricom) was the time I spent in all parts of the country meeting with SMEs and finding out what was important to them and then translating this to products that added value to them. My team truly believed in transforming small businesses and I guess that is why we were successful. It was gratifying to work to change lives so visibly,” Agnes says.

In 2018, Agnes assumed the role of CEO at Pesalink – Integrated Payment Services Limited, tasked with commercialising and monetising the investment made by banks in the instant payment switch. During her three-year tenure, she focused on building trust among stakeholders and driving the platform’s adoption. 

In August 2020, Agnes joined Google, where her mission is to leverage the company’s tools to contribute to East Africa’s economic recovery, particularly amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with businesses to embrace digital transformation, Google has collaborated with over 300,000 African businesses, providing them with the necessary resources to establish an online presence.

Recognitions and Contributions

Throughout her career, Agnes has recognised the importance of gender diversity and empowering women in leadership roles, especially in the tech industry. In line with this belief, she co-founded Hernovation, an organisation focused on cultivating women tech managers into influential leaders through mentorship, public speaking training, strategy development, and financial analysis skills. Agnes is also actively involved in African Women in Fintech and Payments, a talk shop and professional network comprising over 200 women.

Agnes Gathaiya’s remarkable contributions and leadership have earned her recognition in the industry. In 2010, she was honoured by Business Daily as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Women in the country, acknowledging her significant achievements at a young age. Her commitment to continuous learning led her to complete the Harvard University Women in Leadership program.

Agnes’s dedication to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional roles. She serves on the boards of One Acre Fund, United Way – Kenya, African Women in Fintech and Payments, and the Payments Association of Kenya. Through these positions, she actively contributes to the development and growth of various sectors, leveraging her expertise and experience to drive meaningful change.

As the Google Country Director for East Africa, Agnes is leading efforts to leverage the power of digital tools and solutions to promote economic recovery and growth. Google’s focus on enabling businesses to adapt and thrive in the digital era aligns perfectly with her passion for transforming organisations and improving lives.

Agnes has also played a vital role in Google’s initiatives to support vulnerable groups. Recently, she was involved in launching a women and children fund, demonstrating her commitment to empowering marginalised communities and driving social change.

Agnes Gathaiya’s journey as a transformational business leader in East Africa is a testament to her determination, expertise, and commitment to making a difference. She has consistently driven organisational growth, promoted digital transformation, and empowered women in leadership. Through her strategic vision, unwavering dedication, and impactful initiatives, Agnes continues to shape the business landscape of East Africa and inspire others to reach their full potential.

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