Titus Naikuni: The KQ Ex-CEO Who Forcibly Removed Employee’s T-Shirt Inscribed Fly Emirates

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Titus Naikuni: The KQ Ex-CEO Who Forcibly Removed Employee's T-Shirt Inscribed Fly Emirates
Ex-KQ CEO Titus Naikuni Photocredit/TheStandard

By Prudence Minayo

Titus Naikuni has more than three decades of experience working for top corporates in the country. He served as the CEO of Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways (KQ) for about a decade. He is responsible for the successful growth of KQ including increasing its revenues from Sh27 billion in 2003 to Sh107 billion by 2012, from 17 to 37 aircrafts, and 25 to 58 destinations within the same period. 

Here is his story as told WoK.

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Age and Education 

Born in 1953, Titus Naikuni graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nairobi. He went on to attend Harvard Business School Management Development Program (PMD71) in Cambridge Massachusetts, USA. He has an honorary doctorate in science from Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology owing to his contribution to development. 

Career 

In 1979, he was employed at Magadi Soda as a trainee engineer. Steadily rising up the career ladder, he became the company’s managing director (MD) in 1995. A year later, he was made MD of Magadi Railway Company, a subsidiary of Magadi Soda Company. 

Also Read: Isaac Omolo Okero: The Man Who Made Kenya Airways Ksh1.6 Billion in One Day

Naikuni was a member of a World Bank sponsored team of technocrats between August 1999 and March 2001. They were referred to as the dream team and were mandated by the government to improve the economy. During this time, he worked as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications. He also served in the KQ board. 

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In April 2001, he went back to serve as MD at Magadi soda. 

In 2003, he was appointed the CEO of KQ. Apart from extensive experience working for Kenya’s national carrier, he has also served as: 

  • Chairman of Kenya Power and Lighting Company 
  • Board Member of Brunner Mond, South Africa 
  • Chairman of Housing Finance Company Limited 
  • Board member of Access Kenya Limited 
  • Member of Lafarge International Board 
  • Board Member at Prudential Life Assuarance Kenya 
  • Board member at Tata Chemicals Mombasa 
  • Servair France board member 
  • Board member of East Africa Portland Cement Company 
  • Trustee of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust 

Also Read: Allowances And Salaries Of Kenya Airways (KQ) Pilots

Trivia 

By the end of his term as CEO, KQ was experiencing massive losses amidst allegations of corruption. He denied these accusations levelled against him by an inquiry committee led by Kisumu governor Anyang’ Nyong’o. He said he was unaware of any fraud at KQ. He blamed the losses experienced by the airline on Ebola and terrorism. 

In 2019, Mr Titus Naikuni was ordered by Labour Court judge Nelson Abuodha to pay former communications manager, Mr. Kepha Bosire, Sh10 million. According to Business Daily, Mr. Bosire was stripped and later fired for wearing an Arsenal T-shirt branded Fly Emirates. 

The event happened during a dinner in 2013. The former KQ CEO was accused of forcibly removing his blazer and asking him to remove the t-shirt. The court told Naikuni to pay the complainant and Sh1.8 million being three months’ salary in lieu of notice, Sh 7.2 million for unfair dismissal and Sh1 million for compensation for undignified treatment. Naikuni denied these, saying he calmly asked him to change or leave the event since he couldn’t be promoting another airline in an event organized by KQ.

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