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MEET THE BOSS: A chat with Jumia Marketplace’s Jean-Jacques Maikere

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At 27, Jean-Jacques Maikere (JJ)  is the managing director for Jumia-marketplace in Kenya  formerly known as Kaymu.  Popularly referred to as JJ by his peers,  Maikere is a prototype for the modern entrepreneur. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Engineering from Solvay Brussels School.  At 25, he founded Kaymu an online marketplace in Angola. Today he heads Jumia marketplace in Kenya.  We sat down with him to share more about himself

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?

JJ: My first job was a client executive at intern at Thomson Reuters in London. My role was to mainly advice clients from the Buyside, Sellside as well as the quoted companies.  I would analyze the financial data and  conduct perception studies on behalf of the quoted companies. It was perhaps one of my exciting but challenging times in my life.

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HOW OLD WERE YOU THEN?

JJ: Uhm…I was about 24

AS THE MD JUMIA MARKET PLACE WHAT WOULD YOUR IDEAL DAY WOULD BE LIKE?

JJ: Normally I wake up early. At 5 am, be at the office by 7:30 am. My day begins by going through reports from the previous day. I then check on my team and how they are doing in terms of attaining their targets. I spend the  rest of the time my day is spent in between meetings. In the evenings you will catch me with my team at Jumia Mjini (Jumia-Marketplaces offline pickup point in the CBD)

SO WHO TAUGHT YOU TO BE A BOSS?

JJ: I started aggressively during my days in the financial sector. At that time I had a really good boss-Christine Hawey.  She is one amazing person I must say. She was patient with me and always gave me honest feedback regarding my work. This gave me room to  grow in my career. I learned so much from her in terms of handling various situations in the work place.  She was godsend.

WHAT IS THAT ONE ATTRIBUTE  WOULD  YOU SAY HAVE LEARNED FROM HER?

JJ:Positivism without a doubt.  She cultivated an optimistic mind into me. I credit her for that. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF LEADERSHIP?

JJ: I think I am the type that is relaxed but strict. Most people don’t think I am strict but if I saw something that is not right I will tell you straight.

WHAT KIND OF EMPLOYEES DO YOU HIRE?

JJ: I look for people who can thrive in a smart, hardworking and collaborative environment. People who are  team players who want to work to help solve the numerous challenges our clients face.

HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR EMPLOYEES DESCRIBE YOU?

JJ:Hahaa I really don’t know. I don’t think I would like to know really. Hahaha no one likes their boss…I guess.

WHY?

JJ:Sometimes it hurts especially when it is negative. Not that I am worried that my current team would say anything bad….. I just don’t want to know. When I will be far away…feel free to send me a link to an article on  what they think of me (laughs)

ASSUMING THERE IS ONLY ONE JOB, LEAVE ASIDE JUMIA FOR A SECOND,  YOU COULD APPLY FOR AT THIS STAGE OF YOUR CAREER, WHERE WOULD YOU APPLY AND WHY?

JJ: I would probably apply for Chief Executive Officers job at Google Inc. I am a big fan of what they do there.  There is so much learning considering what the company has done over the years. Its an amazing place to work i guess. 

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE A DIFFERENT CAREER FROM WHAT YOU CURRENTLY ARE WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE?

JJ: Oh maan..That is interesting; I would probably be a chef. I love to cook (Chuckles) I would make a great chef I guess.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

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JJ:This is a bit strange, but it was an advice given by mum. She told me if I wanted to be happy in life, then I got to have three basic principles which I refer to as 3R.  Respect for yourself, be Responsible and lastly Respect others. These are the principles that guide me today.

WHAT ARE YOU REALLY INTO OUTSIDE OF WORK?

JJ: I like to cook and travel.  I have been to over eight countries in the world so far.

FAVORITE COUNTRY YOU HAVE VISITED OR STAYED IN OUT OF THE EIGHT?

JJ: That is a tricky one; I would probably say Mozambique because it is so close to the beach. But so far I would say Kenya is the best (Laughs) apart from the cold July/August weather which is taking a toll on me.

DID ANY OF THOSE COUNTRIES SURPRISE YOU?

JJ: Yes….. Angola. 

Angola is like an island in the middle of Africa. Everyone speaks Portuguese despite the country being surrounded by francophone and Anglophone countries. It also has one of the expensive cities in the world. I had wonderful times there.

LETS SAY YOU ARE PACKING A BAG THAT ONLY HOLDS 3 THINGS. WHAT ARE THEY?

JJ: uhhm!.. my laptop, a smart phone and power bank. Those are the things that define me and today’s world

 

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DO YOU DISLIKE?

JJ: People who have issues with themselves and use it as an excuse to be mean to other people. They forget everyone has their own problems.

IF YOU COULD HAVE LUNCH WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE?

JJ: hahaa that is a tricky one. I would mention someone but I am afraid that the guy wouldn’t pay the bill.  But I will say Malcolm X. I am a real fan of him and what he did. I would also pick Mahatma Gandhi I am a fan as well but I doubt whether he would go for Nyama choma with me. I do enjoy nyama choma you know.

IF YOU HAD A CHANCE, WHO WOULD YOU TRADE PLACES OR CAREERS FOR A WEEK WITH?

JJ: I would say Romelu Lukaku, Belgian professional footballer who plays for

Jack Ma, founder and CEO Ali Baba Group
Jack Ma, founder and CEO Ali Baba Group

Premier League side Everton and the Belgium national team unfortunately I can’t run as fast as he does.  Bob Collymore’s (Safaricom CEO) job would be interesting as well. …..On a second thought I think I would trade places with Jack Ma, the Chinese business magnate and philanthropist who is also the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group.

 

 

 

WOULD YOU RATHER BE LUCKY OR SMART?

JJ: That is simple. I would  be smart or intelligent. Being smart or intelligent is permanent. If you combine intelligence with persistence, experience and a good attitude you will be better off. I think luck is random

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH FAILURE?

JJ: Personally, I accept it. I try to understand where the problem could have  been then try and find solutions. 

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?

JJ: Missing out on opportunities perhaps why I try to grab every opportunity that comes my way.

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