Remembering My Friend Bob Collymore

He was a champion for the business case of employee well-being, but he also knew it went much deeper than that.

Riccardo Savi / Getty Images
Riccardo Savi / Getty Images

I was so saddened to hear of the passing this week of Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom, the biggest telecommunications provider in Kenya. He was an inspiration and a role model in so many ways. He was one of our first partners at Thrive, an outspoken leader on the biggest challenges of our time, including climate initiatives, purpose, and how business has a responsibility to take a greater role in confronting these issues. I first met him on The B Team, an international nonprofit of global leaders from business, civil society and government to catalyze a better way of doing business, that prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet. 

Bob was deeply invested in the lives of his employees. Because of Bob, we ended up doing Thrive trainings for his entire workforce of 5,000 people. When we finished our first training, we received an extremely moving 17-minute video about the impact it had on the company, which included employees walking around asking each other, “Are you thriving today?” 

As he says in this clip, yes, there’s a business case for well-being, but there’s also a larger imperative. “I think a lot of CEOs will tell you that being a leader on employee well-being will help retain staff, will turn you into the best employee, or employer to work for,” he said. “But for me, it’s those things as well, but for me it’s trying to create an environment where our colleagues can thrive, where they can reach their full potential, where they can get a sense of balance, where they can see how their work contributes to the greater well-being of the society they live in.”

For Bob, those weren’t just words — he truly backed them up, through his work and through his life.

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