Kayoboke: A man of the people

Saturday March 17 2018

Julius Kayoboke playing table football with friends. PHOTO | ANDREW I KAZIBWE | NMG
Julius Kayoboke playing table football with friends. PHOTO | ANDREW I KAZIBWE | NMG
Julius Kayoboke
Julius Kayoboke is director of customer experience and product management at Equity Group. PHOTO | ANDREW I KAZIBWE | NMG
By ANDREW I KAZIBWE
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Julius Kayoboke, 40, is Equity Group’s new director in charge of customer experience and product management.

A laidback, social and enthusiastic marketer, just like his day-to-day work, he enjoys hanging out, which he says is one of his greatest assets, and the gateway to making connections and business.

Born in Uganda, Julius Kayoboke pursued his primary and secondary studies at St Mary’s School, Nairobi, and obtained a degree in chemical engineering from Birmingham University in the United Kingdom, and a masters degree in business from Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University, California, in the late 1990s.

Following his education, Kayoboke joined Heineken Beer Company in 2001, and worked in the UK, then later in the Netherlands, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Mauritius and Angola.

He returned to Rwanda, where he joined Bralirwa Rwanda Ltd as the marketing director for Heineken Beer from 2005 to February 2018, when he joined Equity Group, Nairobi, Kenya.

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What’s your off-duty passion?

I draw my energy from people. So my activities involve hanging out with people, and family. It’s generally part of my job, because marketing is a conversation in which you try to find solutions to people’s needs.

If you hadn’t turned into who you are today, what would you have been?

I wanted to be a doctor. When I was 15, I visited a hospital to get inspiration from doctors and I realised then that I could not stand the sight of either blood or people in pain. That killed my passion for a career in medicine.

What signifies your personal style?

Fairness. I believe people are different. I cannot stand injustice. It is all about being fair and recognising the best in everyone and trying to promote that.

How do you manage your wardrobe?

I don’t. My mother and sometimes my girlfriend buy clothes for me. In fact I have not bought clothes for close to seven years. My brother happens to have a good sense of dressing and so from way back when I was his size, I would borrow clothes from him.

When in East Africa, where are you most likely to be whiling away your time on a Saturday afternoon?

The region is vibrant and almost every corner offers something unique. So I could be anywhere from Marsabit in northern Kenya or Jinja or Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda; or in Bujumbura eating fish by the shores of Lake Tanganyika, or even in Akagera in Rwanda, experiencing the Kibuye adventure.

Describe your best destination yet in East Africa?

Anywhere in the region is good enough. We have to stop thinking about ourselves as people belonging to these small countries. We are part of a regional bloc with over 150 million people.

Anywhere on your must-visit list?

The canopy walk in the Nyungwe forest in Rwanda, and I want to do the Congo-Nile Trail by bicycle. It is a long one, but I want to go for it.

What do you see as East Africa’s greatest strength?

I think we have the numbers to shake and move the region’s economy. If we take this bloc seriously, think of what we can do to move everyone forward. That’s our strength.

Our diversity of national character is a boost too. Kenyans are go-getters and great entrepreneurs, Ugandans are hospitable, Burundians are colourful, Rwandans have discipline and focus. The onus is on us to harness all that and present it as one market, for the good of everyone and for posterity.

What’s your best collection?

My music and books.

What’s the most thoughtful gift you have received?

The gift of time. Time has accorded me the memories I have spent with people whom I love.

What’s the best gift you have given?

It’s good to acknowledge one’s faults so I will say, unfortunately I am more of a receiver than a giver.

Your last great read?

A book called All My Friends Are Super Heroes by Andrew Kaufman. It is a small book of fiction but a powerful story.

For work purposes, I am currently reading The Case For Creativity, by James Roman. This book explains the link between marketing and sales. It narrates how great marketing can meet great sales.

I am also reading Une Longue Marche Vers la Transformation, by Rwandan writer Jean Paul Kimonyo, which explains Rwanda’s journey of transformation.

Which movie has had an impact on you?
Carlito’s Way, starring American actor Al Pacino, and Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg, a film about the Holocaust.

What’s your favourite music?

I enjoy a wide array, from Afro-tradition to blues, jazz, hip-hop, South African house music, Kenyan all the way to alternative music.

What’s a constant in your fridge?
Vitalo water.