From Struggling Kenyan Athlete to Running Global Empire [VIDEO]

  • A Barrick Gold Worker inside the workshop where gold is melted into bars.
    A Barrick Gold Worker inside the workshop where gold is melted into bars.
    File
  • When Stephen Kuria got the opportunity to go to Australia on sponsorship to represent Curtin University during an athletics competition, he did not know that the road that would see him sit among the greats had started.

    Speaking to Alex Chamwada in an episode of Daring Abroad in December 2019, Kuria recounted the journey that saw him serve as the Regional Head of Barrick Gold (then the largest gold-mining company in the world), where he was in charge of operations in Africa and Australia.

    "When I was in high school, I used to run a lot but my people from the Rift Valley would beat me every time. It is sheer hard work that saw me end up going overseas to compete. I did athletics and weightlifting concurrently," Kuria recounted.

    After a few years in Australia, he was offered citizenship to represent the country in future competitions but politely declined, after which he turned to education knowing that his career as an athlete was not permanent.

    Kenya-Australian Chamber of Commerce head Stephen Kuria addresses a summit in Western Australia.
    Kenya-Australian Chamber of Commerce head Stephen Kuria addresses a summit in Western Australia.
    File

    As a commerce student in the university, Kuria opened a curio shop where he sold ornaments coming from Kenya and other African countries, during which time he stumbled upon prospects in the mining industry.

    "I actually started as an underground miner. The lowest in the hierarchy in the industry is the nipper, like a messenger in the official world. I worked my way up to the position of a manager and then a supervisor," Kuria recalled.

    With time, he decided to go back to Curtin University for an MBA with a focus on Operational Excellence and Extractives, after which Barrick Gold approached him with the offer to be the Regional Manager for Africa and Australia.

    Kuria recounted that in no time, he was traveling all around the globe advising governments and addressing multiple conferences on mining issues courtesy of his position, a matter that he is thankful for.

    In 2007, however, he felt like he had had enough of employment and decided to revert to entrepreneurial work, having garnered relevant experience due to his tenure.

    "I felt like I had reached the top of the mining industry and I thought being employed is not the best thing ever and so I started my own consultancy company," Kuria told Chamwada.

    He added that as a consultant, he got plenty of contracts, but this time not in the mining field but rather in the area of gas and oil where he gained considerable influence and finances.

    With the new stream of income, however, he started the Annual Africa Oil and Gas Conference in 2014 which sees industry leaders and government officials from all over the globe meet in Australia for networking on opportunities in the sector once a year.

    His work has also seen him become the Chairperson of the Kenya Minerals Rights Board and has played a crucial role in the development of the oil and gas sector in the country.

    Kuria is also the Head of the Africa-Australia Chamber of Commerce and the community of Kenyans living in South Australia.

    Below is the video...