Jawad Jaffer is Project Manager of Superbrands East Africa, the London-based international brand’s first African subsidiary to survey organisations. He spoke to The EastAfrican about his life, work and inspiration.
Who is Jawad Jaffer outside the office?
I’m the same person who loves brands. I have visited many offices in the region to see how they are branded.
One day I will write about the top 10 offices I have been to. I’ve learned that many CEOs in Africa are good at branding.
I also enjoy playing golf. I think East Africa has the best climate for sport and the best golf courses. I also like the game because it allows me to interact with CEOs without secretaries or intermediaries.
What is your daily routine?
I’m a Early riser . I pray, eat breakfast, and then hit the gym.
When I get to the office, I attend my scheduled meetings and visit the brands’ offices.
When I get home, I go out in the evenings to watch TV, occasionally read a book and spend time with my family.
How did you bring Superbrands to East Africa?
As a Kenyan I dreamed and had a passion for “Brand Kenya”. As a teenager, I enjoyed playing tennis and was awarded a scholarship to study undergraduate marketing in the United States. After graduation I came back and joined my father in his flower shop, ran it for a few years and then gave it up to start my own marketing company.
My service at the Marketing Society of Kenya was an opportunity to build the Kenya brand and while there I got to know Superbrands. I contacted them but they said they were not ready to work in Africa.
We had a back and forth for three years and eventually one of their executives came to Kenya and they were shocked when they found that everything that was in Britain was here. And that’s when they agreed to start Superbrands in East Africa.
What event changed your life?< /p>
When I started my marketing company, I was involved a representative of the Samsung company and had taken her to Kenya’s then President Daniel Moi to donate footballs and tennis rackets. At the time I was the chairman of Kenya Lawn Tennis.
Eventually I helped him set up the Samsung office in Kenya and I really hoped he could do business with my company.
But to my surprise, he said, “Jaffer, we don’t work with small companies. Samsung always works with well-known marketing companies and they are not.”
That really depressed me. When I told my mother, she asked me to take him home for lunch. And that changed his mind because after that he started giving me small jobs. I learned a lot from this experience.
Describe your journey at Superbrands.
It was a difficult beginning. When we started people thought it was just another awards program. But over time, people learn that it’s not just about the awards.
I’ve had some great experiences too. For example, when we presented athlete Kipchoge Keino with the first Personality of the Year award, it was a really satisfying experience because, as East Africans, we don’t value our stars as much as we foreigners do.
Read :For super brands, the secret is customer approval
What’s new in your life?
A few of my golfing buddies and I have recently started getting together for dinner and sharing topics at least once a month and I really enjoy it.
I am also the proud father of two children, both grown now, a boy and a girl . You have just graduated and started working abroad.