African Female CEOs: EABL’s Visionary CEO, Jane Karuku: Brewing Success, Breaking Barriers

By Duchess Magazine

Jane Karuku is an exceptional woman who not only rises to the top but effortlessly steers a massive ship towards prosperity and sustainability in the world of corporate leadership. She is the trailblazing CEO and Group Managing Director of East African Breweries (EABL), whose remarkable journey is rewriting history and redefining success.

Jane Karuku’s ascendancy to the helm of EABL in 2021 marked a historic moment in the company’s century-old legacy. As the first female chief executive in the organization’s distinguished history, Jane stood tall among the most esteemed leaders in East Africa. With an impressive portfolio of over 40 brands, including iconic global names like Johnnie Walker and Guinness, EABL is undoubtedly a major player in East and Central Africa’s manufacturing landscape.

Jane’s tenure at EABL has been nothing short of spectacular, exemplifying her exceptional leadership acumen. Under her guidance, the company witnessed a remarkable financial resurgence. In 2021, EABL’s net sales soared to a staggering Sh86 billion, marking an impressive 15% year-on-year growth from 2020. More impressively, this achievement not only reinstated the company’s pre-pandemic 2019 net sales figures but also highlighted Jane’s prowess in orchestrating a remarkable turnaround.

One of Jane’s notable achievements during her tenure as CEO was the publication of EABL’s inaugural Sustainability Report in 2021. This milestone exemplifies her commitment to the long-term well-being of both the company and the communities it serves. The report introduced initiatives such as a US$5 million 10-year fund, aimed at aiding pubs and bars in their recovery from the pandemic’s devastating effects. Furthermore, Jane’s visionary leadership set forth a bold ambition for EABL: to source up to 80% of all raw materials locally, thereby fostering sustainable growth and reducing the company’s environmental footprint.

Jane Karuku’s illustrious career spanning over 25 years encompasses diverse sectors, from fast-moving consumer goods to non-governmental organizations. Her remarkable journey has been peppered with accolades and honors, including recognition for her significant contributions to Kenya’s social and economic development, bestowed upon her by the President of Kenya.

Her rich and varied experience encompasses critical areas such as strategy development, operational management, marketing, and organizational change. Jane’s professional journey has seen her occupy influential roles at renowned institutions, including Farmers Choice Kenya, Kenya Cooperative Creameries, Alliance for a Green Revolution, and Telkom Kenya. Her tenure at Telkom Kenya, in particular, earned her praise for orchestrating a remarkable transformation within the organization.

In addition to her impressive domestic career, Jane Karuku held a senior role at Cadbury, where her responsibilities spanned 14 countries. During her tenure, she masterminded and implemented a highly successful growth program for the business, solidifying her reputation as a strategic visionary.

Jane’s thirst for knowledge led her to the prestigious University of California, where she earned her MBA in Marketing, further enriching her already extensive skill set.

In Jane Karuku, East African Breweries has found not just a leader, but a visionary who has reinvigorated the company’s fortunes and is steering it towards a brighter and more sustainable future. Her historic appointment as the first female CEO of EABL serves as an inspiration to women across the continent and underscores the profound impact that visionary leadership can have on the world of business.

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