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The rise of a successful entrepreneur

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of visionary entrepreneur Jyoti Mukherjee, CEO of Software Technologies Limited (STL). Mukherjee’s career and life path in technology started in 1991 when she and her husband, Sanjiv Mukherjee, started STL. Over the duration of three decades, Mukherjee slowly, steadily, built an award winning business. She steered STL into the future, making it as one of Kenya’s Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies. The competition is a partnership between KPMG and the Daily Nation. STL proceeded to stay on top for a decade. This Top Mid-Sized businesses survey looks at SMEs with an annual turnover falling between Ksh70 million, and Ksh1 billion.

Award-winning top CEO

Jyoti Mukherjee was an accomplished entrepreneur who was respectfully named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, a Timeless Woman of Wonder, the Top Businesswoman in ICT, and a Top CEO many times over. Without a doubt she has a substantial number of mentees. Her work in the tech industry also earned her a host of other global acknowledgements. Small wonder she made it to the ICT Hall Of Fame, an award whose recognition was by our very own Ministry of ICT.

New millennium leader

An Indian who made Kenya her home, Mukherjee was more than her much-deserved awards. She grew the business to unimaginable heights. Since 1991 when she launched it, STL has expanded across 3 continents. From West Africa where they designed their first French e-board software, the rest of East Africa and Zambia, all the way to the Middle East. She led STL into the next decade, nay, next millennium, with eHorizon Mkataba, a software that services businesses big and small. It gives them agency over their legal existence and legal processes. It does this by creating a platform that allows them to do all that appertains to contracts. It also serves the probably unintended side effect of teaching and educating all who interact with it on Kenyan contract law.

Creative use of tech

Over time, she found her way inside boardrooms and board member’s minds with her e-governance tool, eHorizon eBoard. This serves the purpose of governing, tracking and centralising communication for board members. It created a virtual boardroom where board members could do business without disrupting their daily work lives. Beyond that, she streamlined the legislation process with e-parliament. This does the work of helping parliamentarians keep track of what would otherwise have been haphazard records.

Jyoti Mukherjee did what technology was made to do; connect people. This she did by building bridges and making their lives easier. It is a safe bet that Mukherjee’s technology touched countless lives beyond the 150 corporations that enjoyed the product of her genius. In addition to that, these likely include all the people who saved time which they then enjoyed with their loved ones, allowing them to care for their families.

Family first

Jyoti Mukherjee was herself a woman who put her family first, an attribute she was known for. It is her son, Chets Mukherjee, who co-runs the company, STL, with Jyoti Mukherjee. Where others saw a need and likely disharmony, she drew inspiration from it. She saw possibilities and solutions where complex problems existed. She brought everyone and everything together into a tight, tidy, organised, easily accessible circle with an elegance and beauty only made evident in one with such symmetry of thought. A problem-solver at her core, she was herself an original. A maverick who stepped into the future before her peers had a chance to put on their shoes, let alone tie their laces.

A beautiful legacy

Her legacy will be best remembered far and wide over her Institute of Software Technology, uplifting the industry by training talent. Here she taught young minds, absorbing the top 5 into her organisation, and sharing them with the industry top players. Numbering hundreds, these students will be a generous part of her legacy. She was not just the Top ICT Businesswoman in Africa (2007). Hers is the kind of life fully lived. Jyoti Mukherjee touched her team of employees, growing from a handful of just 5 to become a powerhouse in East Africa, straight to a global enterprise straddling 3 continents; Africa, the Middle East and UAE.

Similarly, her legacy also lives on. Even though she is gone, thanks to EAPEF (a $63 billion American private equity fund), her business is set to grow bigger and stronger. Their investment allows STL to further spread its wings across Africa not just for its patented technology that has seen them rise to the top, but also owing to its certified training institute.

For a woman who believed in her father’s ideology of “high thinking, simple living,” her description of success is befittingly based on these 6 things. “Planning, focus, self-belief, a positive attitude, love for those around us, and a strong work ethic.” If there ever was something Jyoti Mukherjee would be glad to see live on, it would be this philosophy as her legacy. She leaves behind a grieving tech community that she certainly transformed. Eventually, in her own unique way, she shaped the tech landscape not just in Kenya or East Africa, but also, the world.

Article by Carol Odero,  published in CIO EAST AFRICA, the leading magazine for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in East Africa, published by Kommunication Ultimate Limited (KUL) in conjunction with the International Data Group (IDG), a world-renowned publisher of legendary brands.

One of the biggest business revolutions in history is happening nowadays: the digital transformation of companies across industries. Digital environments democratize opportunities for both small and large organizations, as they are openly accessible. Organisations have found in innovation a new engine for the road to success.

To achieve this goal, businesses must invest in emerging technologies; embrace innovation and maximize their capacity for adaptation in all layers of their business, especially their executive teams. Digital transformation is the strategic opportunity to incorporate new technologies and processes so that the business becomes more efficient and open to new opportunities. Companies like Facebook and Whats App grew to be among the biggest companies in the world in less than a decade thanks to digital technology.

What is the path towards Digitizing Meetings?

Digital meeting management is gaining space in the meeting management area for companies in Kenya. The possibility of implementing new technologies to traditional meetings is not a new idea. Many organizations have taken a step toward the digital boardroom by emailing PDFs of board documents or having members access a file-sharing or public cloud service (compared to a privately hosted board portal service). However, these came as a first technological wave. Now, we have specific digital solutions that integrate everything in a one-and-only product.

Whatever the main goal is, efficiency or cost reduction, digitization can involve redesigning processes and redefining roles and functions. This entails not only taking into account the culture and structure of the organization but above all, accompanying both people and teams in the development of new skills

Digital tools bring clear benefits for both the Board administrator and Directors and are a valuable asset for Board meetings. First, with more company directors becoming comfortable using tablets, including iPads there is an opportunity for digital apps to help make board meetings more efficient, organized and productive.

In addition, digital solutions are helping tackle the main challenges boards face today; ensuring the preparation of meetings and provision of pre-read material in less time and in simple ways, instead of the paper-based approach. Meeting materials can be assembled into board packs in minutes saving several days of work and time for administrators and tens of thousands of dollars per years in costs for printing, binding and distributing hard copy board packs.

Another benefit of digital solutions for the board is increased flexibility because it is easier to enhance, modify, add or update documents. Directors are always viewing the most recent version. One of the greatest mistakes that most CEOs make is to spend time during board meetings giving updates. While bringing your board up to date is crucial, such updates can be sent beforehand so time is only spent on discussing action plans. Sending updates in advance also gives our board members time to digest on the information and think through issues and of course, we know that any meeting is more fruitful when everyone comes prepared!

Additionally, the meetings’ participants can be reached and they can access their files anytime, anywhere; administrators can monitor whether the information aimed at participants actually reached them. In addition to securely sharing board packs, Board Portal technology seamlessly integrates with calendars and email for voting and approvals eliminating courier distribution of board packs.

Digital solutions also allow boards to share information and collaborate easily. Directors can privately share their thoughts and annotate Pdf documents using highlights, sticky notes, and voice notes. Additionally seamlessly integrate with calendars, and email for voting and approvals

Improving efficiency and productivity in Board Meetings and enhancing Collaboration 

eHorizon eBoard is a subscription-based service that allows boards to share information and collaborate. It provides secure digital storage of the documents used by an organization’s board of directors, including reports, spreadsheets and exhibits for the next board meeting; archives from past meetings; board resources such as the bylaws, committee charters, and succession plans, and board calendars and directories.

New features provide boards with an opportunity to make meetings more prepared and therefore more efficient. For example, eBoard portal makes it possible for directors to poll board members on ideas prior to meetings. This allows directors to gauge opinions on proposals prior to meetings. Directors and executives can then prepare responses and hold meetings with a grounded understanding of the current state of play.

Lastly, new technologies improve the way we conduct business meetings in the future. Have you heard of Virtual Reality (VR) technology? This one example of the type of technology in board portals that could improve productivity in meetings, by allowing participants to effortlessly join an online meeting and communicate with peers from anywhere in the world with one click of a button.

About the Author
Dorcas Karuana is the Marketing and Communication Manager at Software Technologies Ltd. 

Software Technologies Ltd Chief Executive, Jyoti Mukherjee, recently shared her entrepreneurship journey since 1991 in an interview series ‘The Journey so far’ by How We Made It in Africa, which aims to give readers a glimpse in the lives of successful entrepreneurs on the continent.

From the toughest situation she found herself in as a business owner, popular entrepreneurial advice that she disagrees with, to a business opportunity she would still like to pursue, Mrs. Mukherjee gave several insights […]

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