Frank Molla’s success in the corporate world is as a result of sheer hard work and discipline bereft in most of us. Growing up, his mother believed he was meant for great things and these words stayed with him even when he collected people’s garbage for a living. With no Bachelor’s degree, a lot of doors seemed to be closed for him, but his persistence and self belief paid off and in 2020, he achieved Mastercard’s most prestigious sales awards in excellence, leadership and achievement- 2020 President Club award.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
Background and Education
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Frank was brought up in Kariobangi South in a two bedroom house that was close to a bar named Mahituni. They were seven children, five boys and two girls, with his father working at Nation and his mum was a housewife. He made the decision never to take alcohol or smoke after he saw what it did to his father and brother .
“I love my dad and my brother. I learned a lot from them. One of the things I learned is to avoid alcohol after I saw what it did to them. I think that was my first turning point; making a decision not to drink or smoke”, he told Business Daily.
He attended our Lady Fatima High School and African Nazarene University but was not able to graduate because there was no money as his father had already retired from work.
While he did not pursue a bachelor’s degree, he ended up pursuing various courses later in life. He attended Strathmore, Nanyang Business School in Singapore and Harvard Business School to pursue several executive courses.
After high school, he got into the business of collecting garbage. He told BD that trash revealed a lot about a person. Frank Molla realized that poor households had heavy trash and vice versa. They had a neighbour who was rich with children in top schools, like, Kianda, and his trash had things like Weetabix, which he’d never tasted.
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His dream was to leave Kariobangi in search of a better life. Apart from picking trash, he did a number of odd jobs. He worked as a spanner boy, a tout, a mechanic and even a matatu driver. He also secured employment with an Indian and would arrive at his compound early in the morning, wash his cars, and drop and pick up his children to and from school. It was here that he drove a Toyota Prado and a Mercedes Benz for the first time and he decided it was the kind of life he wanted. Frank Molla also became a casual labourer at SmithKline Beecham, worked as an event organizer and a radio presenter in Arusha Tanzania.
Professional Career and Dubai
He pursued a diploma course in the now defunct School of Professional Studies. Later, he joined Safaricom before getting an interview with James Mwangi who became his employer and mentor.
In pursuit of a better life, he used his savings to move to Dubai. Life in Dubai was not what he has expected. He slept at a friend’s living room and only got odd jobs. He felt he wanted more and soon realized it was time to head back home. He had depleted his savings relocating to Dubai and had nothing much left in Kenya.
When he returned to Kenya, he heard that Barclays Bank had a vacant managerial position which he applied for. Since he did not have a degree, they hired him as a direct sales representative. At first, he was not impressed with the job since it was on contract basis. Nonetheless, he put in a lot of effort and steadily rose to become a senior sales manager. His employment still remained contractual owing to his lack of degree.
“So, it did not matter that I was never made a permanent employee because I did not have a degree. I did my job well and never lost it and instead grew while on contract,” Frank Molla told the Standard.
When American Express came to the country, they were interested in employing a manager for business development, corporate payments. His friends went for interviews but no one bothered to tell him since he had no degree, one of the requirements for the job. A lady got hired but the job’s demands were too much and she was a young mother. Instead, she recommended him. The multinational called him and that was how he began working for them. At American Express, he led efforts to identify, grow and defend market share in Sub Saharan Africa in the corporate multinational space and bank partnerships.
He then went on to work as Director of Business Development East Africa for Growth Markets at Mastercard.
In 2021, he was made the Sub Saharan Africa Managing Director of BPC Banking Technologies. This is a tech company that creates and develops SmartVitsa and also creates retail banking solutions for financial institutions.
Frank Molla is the co-owner of Pete’s cafes.