GMC Kenya Founder – Asim Shah

An Interview with Founder and Director of Greener Pastures Ltd, the host of the GMC in Kenya

Asim Shah, tell us about yourself.

I’m an engineer by profession, manufacturing engineering specifically and now increasingly curious about organizational health, design and behavior. I’m still looking for my calling but I think it lies somewhere between engineering and human resource betterment. Outside of work I’m a hobby wildlife photographer and apparently a skilled off-road driver!

What 3 traits define you.

Intelligent, Risk-taker and Conscientious

What inspires and motivates you?

Overcoming seemingly impossible challenges. I did a psychometric assessment some time ago and it suggested one of my motivators is the desire to make money. I’m inspired by engineering wonders and odd as it sounds “efficiency”.

Tell me how you made it as one of Kenya’s Top 40 under 40 men in 2015

The top 40 under 40 are selected based on their impact on society and as future role models. It’s not about the top business personalities or the richest. My style of coaching and mentoring and also introducing the Global Management Challenge into the country for a very specific purpose got me recognized as someone trying to make an impact on the youth of the country. I’ve always been a role model and an inspirer for ideas. I’m looking at what I can do to transform our talent pools.

I would love to know more about GMC

The Global Management Challenge is the world’s largest online strategy and management competition. It’s a gamified opportunity to run a very realistic but virtual business without the real-world risks. The GMC gives participants the experience of C-suite decision making, in-depth analysis of financial and operational data and for the determined ones it forces them to reflect and action on the consequences of their decisions.

What influenced the initiative to introduce GMC to Kenya?

I took part in the GMC while at university in the UK and it opened up the world of management to me. I got validation of what I always knew but could never practice – that everything is connected. The smallest change somewhere or what you believe is the least impactful may have a huge bearing on another part of the business. That kind of experience is invaluable and for that reason a group of friends explored the option of introducing the GMC to Kenya way back in 2009. We didn’t believe the market was financially ready then and the GMC has a dependency on high-speed internet, which in 2009 was not available. Fast-forward to 2013 when we re-explored the viability of bringing the GMC to Kenya given that broad-band had arrived, statistics of half-baked graduates were being churned out and I was experiencing challenges in recruiting literally anyone who had an idea about management. I was convinced that GMC would have an impact on participants’ managerial skills and decision making conviction. I think we’ve achieved that impact already.

Who can apply for the competition?

The competition is open to all at the moment. In some countries its restricted to students or managers but in Kenya we’ve kept it open. Students complain about not getting practical experience – the GMC solves that to an extent. Managers complain about the C-suite’s ways of doing things – give them a taste of what the C-suite is like!

How do the participants apply for the competition?

We’ll have an online registration process accessible from the website. The team captain should first register the team and then invite the team members. If you’re paying by MPESA then you can do that straight away on the same page itself. By the time we open up registration you should even be able to do it on a smartphone.

What is your plan for the future of GMC?

I’d like to see strong corporate and educational institutions come onboard to acknowledge the impact the GMC will have on their learning and talent development. In some countries like Mexico and Portugal, the GMC forms a unit as part of some bachelors’ degrees – students earn credits for participating. I think that would transform the experience of education for any student in this country. We have the contractual rights to host across East Africa so once we’re rolling successfully in Kenya we will look to establish in Uganda probably.

If you could go back and give your 21 year-old self valuable piece of advice, what would you say?

Be fearless. Inspiration, intellect and character are built from the experiences we go through, understand and reflect upon.

Asim Shah’s profile

Asim has a Masters in Engineering in Manufacturing Engineering & Management from the University of Warwick. He specialises in management systems design, wilderness event logistics, youth coaching and talent development. He is the youngest serving member of the Rhino Charge organising committee and a Director at Tarpo Industries Ltd. He founded Greener Pastures in 2013 to explore new ways of talent acquisition within Nairobi and pivoted in 2014 to become a boutique consultancy focusing on human capacity development through experiential training.