CEO’s Plate Interview: Nick Nesbitt

written by EatOut 17th April 2012

A Hot dog power lunch maybe your ticket to success

Kencall’s dynamic Chief Executive is certainly a major player in Kenya’s corporate atmosphere. An industry leader and pioneer, Nick has been awarded a presidential honour, the Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW) in recognition of his frontier spirit in creating the Kenyan BPO. A member of the prestigious YPO, Nick also sits on the board for several leading companies including the Central Bank of Kenya.

First things first, Latte, Mocha or Espresso?

Single Cappuccino, thank you.

Now that we’ve sorted that, what motivated you to move back to Kenya?

It was an optimistic time in the country with a newly-elected President and government in place. I had spent twenty years living and working in the States and I wanted to return with the experience I had gained to make a difference here.

Kencall has been recognised as the top non-European call centre globally; the fastest growing mid-size business in Kenya and runner-up for the best mid-size business in East Africa.  Did you foresee the immense growth and success of Kencall?

It was a bold move setting up Kencall, but there were surface indicators that hinted at its future success. For a new industry the core ingredients were just right; there was a surplus of young graduates who were highly motivated and that coupled with training ensured continual growth.

What is your recipe for success?

Being aware of what is happening today and around us, a clear vision of doing something bigger than ourselves for a higher cause. There are no set rules or steps to success, everyone has to forge their own path; success is not linear.

Speaking of recipes, do you lean towards a specific type of cuisine? What are your favourite restaurants in Nairobi?

I am a big fan of Thai food, so it is a shame there are not enough good Thai restaurants in Nairobi. Seven Sea Food and Grill is up there on my list and Hashmi at the Nakumatt Ukay is my go to place for a take-away.

You grew up in Kenya, are there any local dishes you are fond of or evoke childhood memories?

As a child I was not too bothered about food, I just ate whatever was there to get by. But I do remember us as children going to our grandparents on a Sunday and on more than one occasion there would be chicken curry and chapattis so maybe that was my favourite dish then.

Do you think Nairobi’s restaurants are making headway in offering a dining experience that can rival cities abroad?

With regards to the States the diversity of cuisine is vast and they have a lot of experience in service delivery and customer satisfaction, in comparison Kenya is still has a way to go but in time and with trained staff they could grow in leaps and bounds. On the other hand, there are some restaurants here that have put a lot of effort in offering patrons first rate service.

Are you a whiz in the kitchen or do you tend to order out when you have to fend for yourself?

I can manage scrambled eggs and the sort, luckily for me my wife handles all the cooking and am relegated to all the chopping and cutting duties; I even learnt that a piece of dry bread in your mouth can stop you tearing up when chopping onions.

Red or white? Or do you prefer something stronger?

Early in my career scotch was more or less the drink of choice amongst the corporate crowd. We used to go to lunch meetings and there would definitely be fair amount of scotch going around, much like the series Mad Men. Towards the end of my time in the States they had introduced two martini lunches to curb down the raucousness of business lunches.

Tell us something that many of us wouldn’t know?

When I still worked in the States we used to have hectic schedules and meetings across town, my boss and I to save time (& money), used to stop by hotdog stands to grab a quick bite. We used to wolf these down en-route and eat light during a some very important lunch meeting. The corporate world has many sides; its not all business lunches in upmarket restaurants, sometimes a hotdog vendor is the power lunch you need.

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