Money or Environment? Why Tech Talent Switch Employers

A heated panel discussion: the Kahawa Thungu fireside panel discussion on Talent Wars and how Big Tech reaps where they have not sown


Money or Environment? Why Tech Talent Switch Employers
The Kahawa Thungu fireside chat at the CIO100 Symposium and awards.

CIO100 Symposium and Awards brought together big players in the IT and Tech sector in Africa. They all came together to address the main issues in the sector with keynote addresses and panel discussions.

One very heated panel discussion was the Kahawa Thungu fireside panel discussion on Talent Wars and how Big Tech reaps where they have not sown. Moderated by AHK’s Ali Hussein, the beachside discussion was heated as panellists tried to figure out why big talent is normally scooped by big tech companies.

Ali was joined by George Njuguna (CIO Safaricom), Phares Kariuki (Co-Founder Pure Infrastructure), Kamal Bhudhabhati (CEO – Craft Silicon), Cecilia Nyawira (Partner – Millar Cameron) and Ahmed Salim (Managing Partner – Disruptive Media Ltd).

Phares spoke of money as the big motivation for switching employers. He said that employees will walk away to a better offer if you do not pay them well.


“For a long time, if you worked for a person who does not pay you well, you walk away. We don’t have a shortage talent. The fundamental problem is all people are in business. As a businessperson, you should pay well. We under-price our employees,” Phares noted.

Safaricom’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) George Njuguna had a different idea as to why big tech is reaping where it has not sown. For George, it is about developing the talent from grassroot. He said that big techs will always be scooping the talent, so the only solution is increasing the pie.

“You pay them double, but you have not trained yet there are so many unemployed Kenyans who have no jobs. Why take a developer developed by another company if you are honest about developing the industry?” George said, “What we should think about is how to develop talent from the grassroots. We need to look at how we can make the pie bigger.”

Kamal and Cecilia talked of money not being the biggest motivation.


“You need to a team that you really take care for. Money is not the only person that motivates people. When there there is a purpose, money becomes secondary to the staff,” Kamal noted.

“Greatest asset in any organization are the people. The war is not big tech versus small tech. IT is all sectors that are being affected by the need for talent. There are enough tech skills in the community. If you do not engage in the right process, you need to employ the right people that will align to your company’s culture. You don’t pay talent by compensation only. Employees want to work in organisations that they feel motivated, get training opportunities. Companies need to invest in retention strategies.” Cecilia said.

Ahmed Salim agreed with George Njuguna noting that poaching will always be there. It has been existent in different industries.

“Poaching has been there across all industries. At the end of the day, money will not be enough. Risking companies’ future to lock people doesn’t work for entrepreneurs. Money cannot buy understanding of the vision. Apart from salary, what else do you offer to employees. I have experienced poaching. It was very emotional,” he said.


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