Growing in one job role, to Glow in the other

I HAAAAAATED my old job.

Waking up in the morning felt like pulling teeth. I was in an industry I didn’t love, and life started to feel purposeless every day.

It all started when I was jobless. I had been unemployed for about 4 months and I couldn’t stand it, I wanted to pull my hair out.

Finally, a friend mentioned that they were looking for an office assistant at a financial services company. Having come from a very creative space, I was nervous.

But honestly, I was happy to not be a loser who contributes nothing to society. In my mind, I figured I would just take it in my stride and see how it goes. I mean, it’s not like I was going to be there forever. I kept telling myself it was temporary.

3 years later, I had been promoted twice and had essentially taken on more of a leadership role in my team. I watched people come and go and wondered when it was going to be my turn. The culture was horrible and rigid.

We all tried to make changes but hey, what are you in one of the biggest companies in the continent? Two things that job taught me was to

  • KEEP GOING and if you don’t know something…
  • LEARN. 

In all honesty, I was a bit ashamed to be a glorified filing clerk and, in my mind, I was like ‘you know what? You’re smart enough to do all this finance stuff these people are doing’ and I was right.

I killed it at my job, but it drained me bit by bit. Knowing that writing is my sole passion and I couldn’t do it fulltime really hurt and it demotivated me. Freelancing was just not enough, but hey, the bills must be paid right?

Fast forward to the present, and I am in the job of my dreams. I felt like I could finally call myself a writer. The first couple of months were very daunting because the environment was completely different; vibrant, colorful and everyone wears whatever they want!

I felt like I didn’t know anything all over again, but I remembered what I kept in my mind at my old job. KEEP GOING AND LEARN.

  • Ask questions no matter how stupid they sound
  • Do some reading on your industry
  • Listen to what the others are saying. 

It truly goes a long way because now, I’m right at home. I feel like everyone trusts me to make the right decisions and deliver on top class work, which is amazing.

My old job helped me grow, and now I’m glowing in my new job.


 How are you growing and glowing this month? We want to share your story! Click here to share.

Meet the women taking their place as CEO’s in Kenya

A lot has been said about women entrepreneurs in Kenya.

Women have distinguished themselves and we have trailblazers like Tabitha Karanja of Keroche Industries, Flora Mutahi of Melvin’s Tea, Gina Din Kariuki of Gina Din Communications, Judith Owingar of AkiraChix, Lorna Rutto of Eco posts, Ruth Mwanzia of Koola Waters, Shikha Vincent of Shikazuri and Michelle Ntalami of Marini Naturals to name a few.

Entrepreneurship is mainly about business skills, determination, resilience, networking, and social impact. Women are working their way into this area and are slowly but surely making headway.

A lot of focus and support has been given to women entrepreneurs through grants, training, access to finance and favorable government policies like Access to Government Procurement (AGPO) to name a few. More women are encouraged to participate in this sector.

Women in the corporate world have an uphill task to get their place and break all the glass ceilings. Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, in her book LEAN IN, gives insights into what the life of a woman in corporate America is and how to maneuver it.

According to Fortune.com, there were 27 women at the helm of Fortune 500 companies as at January 2018. How about corporate Kenya?

I admire women in the corporate world because apart from the normal barriers they encounter and overcome, boys club mentality, patriarchy, high technical skills, experience, glass ceiling mentality (Gender stereotyping), sexual harassment, inflexible working conditions and integrity.

The corporate world is harsh and cutthroat. The impact is mostly measured in terms of PROFITS and PROFITS. Only recently have corporates embraced a wider scale to measure the impact of CEO’s to include social impact, teamwork, employee innovation and customer retention to name a few.

This shift gives women a chance to shine as their natural skills of collaboration and teamwork are an asset.

Entrepreneurship is forgiving on the requirements of higher education and experience. A person with a basic education can quickly become a business mogul. However, in the corporate world, experience and education have a lot of weight.

The current trend to consider leadership, softer skills and strategic leadership has made it more accessible for women.

Due to gender roles and social pressure, many women in the past were not in a position to access higher education and therefore did not get promotions to enable them to rise up.

Currently, women are taking up chances to improve their education hence giving them more edge to compete in the corporate world. Experience is a matter of time; men had an advantage of this. In the last 20 years, women have proved that given a fair chance they too climb the corporate ladder right up to the top.

Why do we need women in CEO positions?

 

People in the corporate world manage a large amount of money and direct how it is used. Gender diversity has also been proven over the years to increase profits and performance of corporations.

Therefore, further inclusion of women has been proved to attract talent in the boardrooms where innovative solutions are created. Invariably more women-friendly products and policies emerge from companies that are managed by women. After all, women are 50% of the consumers of products and services.

The simple fundamental reason why women should be in the corporate world is that it’s fair and inclusive to do so.

In Kenya, we have many distinguished ladies at the helm of corporates and organizations. This has increased recently, but to date, only 2 women lead corporations listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange i.e. Maria Msiska of BOC  (until 2016) and Nasim Devji of DTB Bank. We can do better.

Here are examples of Women CEO’s in Kenya:

  • Jennifer Riria is a pioneer of women in CEO position and has been holding this and similar positions in the microfinance and banking industry for 20 years. She is the CEO of Kenya Women Holdings that has a subsidiary Kenya Women microfinance Bank which is a leading bank for women entrepreneurs. She is a Ph.D. holder and has a Degree and Master degree as well.

 

  • Stella Njunge: CEO of Sanlam Life, part of Sanlam Kenya Group. She has over 15 years’ experience in the insurance industry,  a CPA(K), CPS(K), and holds a degree and masters. Stella also has over 16 years’ experience in Insurance.

 

  • Catherine Karimi: CEO of APA Life part of Apollo Group a leading insurer in Kenya. She has 18 years’ experience in Insurance industry, a degree, postgraduate certificate in Actuarial Studies, and is a member of Chartered Insurers (UK).

 

  • Rita Kavashe: is the CEO of General Motors East Africa, Kenya with 35 years’ experience working at GM. She has a degree and postgraduate certificates and rose through the ranks.

 

  • Phyllis Wakiaga: is the CEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers. She has a law degree, Higher Diploma in Law and Human Resource Management, Master Degrees in International Trade and Investment Law and Business Administration.

There are many more female CEO’s in Kenya. The common items in their profiles are EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE.  This is a true testament that education is an equalizer.

Given equal opportunity and based on merit, women can excel and are excelling in the corporate world. Girls need to be encouraged to plan their career path early to help them reach the top CEO positions to bridge the current gap.

I look forward to more women taking up the CEO roles and reducing the barriers to getting there.


Got an article you’d like to share with us? Share your story with us here.

Key steps to Maximizing Your next Cash Bonus

Everyone can relate to that feeling of excitement when receiving a bonus and all of a sudden, you feel that your financial problems have come to an end. 

However, after a month or two, not many can account for how the money was spent, it seems to disappear with every other money that comes into the bank account (i.e. regular earnings). 

It’s that time of the year again when most companies will soon start announcing their financial results and employees can expect to receive communication on bonuses.  

Most bonus payments these days are performance related so if you receive one, it comes with a feeling of success and fulfillment that your hard work is finally being recognized.

Regardless of how much you are expecting to receive, it is important to carefully plan how you’ll spend it so that you can receive the most value out of it.  Proper planning will ensure that you are able to account for every penny that comes in and motivate you to work even harder towards the next bonus.

So how can you really maximize your bonus?

First and foremost, you need to reward yourself for all the hard work.  You have worked hard all year, dedicated your time and talent towards your company, and fully earned the bonus so you deserve to celebrate and treat yourself.  

Splurge on that expensive item that you’ve always wanted to buy or indulge in your guilty pleasure without feeling guilty for once.

However, keep this to 10% – 15% of your bonus earning and try not to go over the threshold in order to fully maximize the amount.

If you are a parent or working mother, you might feel the need to also spoil your family.  Why not?  They have supported you all year and been patient with you on those days when you’ve had to work late nights or work away from home so they also deserve to be rewarded.

Spend about 5% to 10% on the family and kids and buy everyone lovely gifts to appreciate them for their support towards your achievement.  

Consider allocating the remaining 80% of your bonus in the following order:

1. Pay off any debts that you owe

The cost of servicing debts is going to be higher than any income you are likely to receive on savings or investments.  

Except if your debts are non-interest bearing with no repayment commitments, it is more effective to pay off your all your debts before you think of saving or investing your bonus earnings. 

Treat your bonus differently from your regular earnings Click To Tweet

2. Put money into long-term savings or investments

Any money left after you have cleared your debts should go into your long-term savings or investments.

  • On average you should be putting 10% to 20% of your normal earnings into long-term (or retirement) savings or investments options on a monthly basis, so if you can, try to spend at least 10% to 20% of your bonus earnings in the same manner.  The money can go towards your pensions, ISAs, other long-term investments products or even your personal business venture.  
  • This money is important for securing your future in the days when you don’t have the energy to work as hard as you are working now.  Just as the saying goes to ‘make hay while the sun is shining’.  If you have not already started saving and investing towards your future, then maybe you can start with your bonus this year.
  • It’s never too late to start and $1 invested today can go a long way in the future with compound interest. 

3. Top up your short-term savings or emergency fund

If you still have money left after saving for the future, then you can use it to top up your short-term savings.  This is the money you put aside for the short term emergency spend that you don’t plan for (i.e. unforeseen events) or the rainy day.  

Naturally, you should already be putting aside at least 10% of your regular earnings towards this account to cater for the unexpected spending commitment.  The recommended practice is to have about three months of income in your emergency account as a minimum.

 Anything left can go into your miscellaneous account towards your next holiday or luxury spend savings (to fulfill your ‘wants’).

To conclude, the bonus is a special earning that you’ve worked for and it’s important to treat it differently from your regular earnings. 

A fully maximized bonus is more memorable and being able to account for every amount makes it feel even more rewarding.  A financial planner can assist you with savings and investments options that suit your goals, life commitments and risk profile (capital at risk).  Good luck with the announcements.

Hope you smile to the bank by getting a bonus payment that rewards all your hard work over the last year. 


Got a story you’d like to share with us? Share their story with us here.

5 transferable skills you need to go from homemaker to employee

What happens when the homemaker decides to return to formal employment? She is usually greeted with disdain for having ‘wasted’ her time at home and missed out on the latest developments in the industry.

Though she is likely to be a bit out of touch with the nitty gritty of being an employee, a homemaker will, during the course of her homemaking, acquire some fine skills that make her an even more valuable employee than someone who has not experienced life outside the workplace.


A successful homemaker makes a successful employee Click To Tweet

Here are some of the transferable skills a homemaker already has:

Time-keeping

With so much to achieve on a daily basis, successful homemakers always keep their eye on the clock. If your meetings tend to stretch forever, and you cannot seem to stay on schedule for your targets, someone with homemaking experience can turn that around for you.

Through experience, homemakers understand the effect of allowing tasks to take up too long to complete, of failing to have something done in time, and of the benefits of scheduling right off the bat.

Planning

Homemakers are, of necessity planners. From household chore to family events, these women have a skill that some employees still need to be taught. A homemaker understands the difference between a daily, weekly and monthly plan.

Meal planning is one way they practice this. She needs to plan for daily meals, which will be the foundation of her weekly or even monthly shopping trips. At the same time, she masters making adjustments, improvising, scheduling and reviewing.

If your team needs someone who seamlessly integrates tasks together, you may need a homemaker Click To Tweet

Multi-tasking

Homemaking tasks are varied, numerous and as diverse as the lives involved. The basics of homemaking encompass cooking, cleaning, childcare, gardening, tutoring, house maintenance and so on. In a single day, she will have to deal with some or even all of these tasks.

With only 24 hours in a day, multi-tasking is something learned out of necessity. The trick with multi-tasking is that while it is necessary, it needs to be done in a logical manner to be effective. While you can listen to your child’s reading while cooking, for example, it becomes illogical to attempt it while you are vacuuming.

If your team needs someone who seamlessly integrates tasks together, you may need to give the homemaker a chance.

Creativity

Creativity is one of those skills that is difficult to define and teach to a person. It is best learned in context. And what better context than in the home, where routine can soon lead to boredom in so many ways.

From the layout of furniture to meals and family activities, there comes a time where a new approach is demanded of you. When work and business solutions start to get mundane, the homemaker will seldom be out of depth.

Negotiation

Who engages the part-time help to complete a task in the shortest time possible for the lowest cost? Who meets the meter man at the gate and diverts any attempt to disconnect services? Who sets the terms for play dates, physical boundaries, and social events?

The very same tasks in the context of a formal work environment can be assigned to the woman who already has lots of experience form home.

In some cases, it’s the homemaker herself who needs to be reminded of all the wealth of experience that she brings to the workforce.

There is no reason to feel inferior or incompetent. A successful homemaker makes a successful employee.

5 ways to Enjoy Your Wack Contract Job

Quit thinking the reason you’re not doing well right now is that you don’t get so much pay Click To Tweet

The most common jobs in Nigeria right now are ones gotten from a third-party company that is signed to provide employees for various employers.

While I worked at one, I found that the reason employer companies choose the option of contract staffs is to reduce its expenses and improve profitability.

A full-time employee may get a 50% raise from your salary, including HMO(Health) benefits. This is even more annoying for contract staffs because they do more of the work but have fewer benefits, up until the length of days to go on leave.

However, there’s always a way to have the life you want regardless of the situation presented to you.

The vision you have for yourself should drive your passion for what you do now Click To Tweet

Know who you are

This is nothing about your desires or visions  – at least not for the purpose of this article.

What makes you tick? Deep down your heart, what’s the core of your strength? The real test to enjoying your job, and your life, is to know who you are.

Although the search of identity may be an ongoing process, there’s a core of you that reveals your truth in whatever situation you find yourself. Everything you believe yourself to be should not be dependent on anything else but you.

Once you can identify who you are, it would facilitate the emergence of what you’d like to experience.

The true value of your job is not dependent on your position, but your personality. Click To Tweet

Change your cognitive experience

The natural cognitive of man is attracted to negative situations that appeal to his senses.

So for example, you get to find out the extra benefits due to full-time staffs in your company and it freaks you out (it should), it is only normal that you begin to take it out on your daily routine, colleagues and even your line managers.

Two years after my experience as a contract staff in a financial institution, I was appraised and suggested to be converted into a full-time staff.

I was excited when my line manager hinted me on this new development and was waiting for the big announcement. To my greatest disappointment, when my appraisal form got to the office in charge, my group head was summoned and asked, “Who would you like to be retrenched in order to approve Adesewa’s conversion?” Confused, she responded, “nobody”.

“Well, because the company cannot afford the cost for another full-time employee,” they disclosed. It was a great consolation to have known that the reason for the default was a lack of the company’s capacity, not mine.

If this happened to you, I know you would freak out, and probably drop your resignation notice to go somewhere you’ll be ‘celebrated, not tolerated’.

Just calm down! LOL!

The quality of the delivery of your duties should be influenced by positivity. Contract jobs hardly come with motivations. Thus, you must always find a way around it. While you have a plan to quit, be deliberately positive about your daily dealings.

The more positivity you exude, the greater the attraction for more. If it doesn’t happen for you in this job, it would somewhere else.

Create value for your personality

One of the many reasons people want to be in the full-staff cadre is so that the company can place value on them. The true value of your job is not dependent on your position, but your personality.

Quit thinking the reason you’re not doing well right now is that you don’t get so much pay. Your pay may not equal your plan, but it does not necessarily influence the core of you, except you want it to.

So, during a knowledge sharing session at your company or a proposal pitch, you have the platform to ‘show yourself’. Yes! Flaunt the stuff you’re made of! This is not PRIDE; it is PURPOSE-ON-DELIVERY.

Always look for opportunities to reveal who you are asides from being the “front desk officer” or “cashier”. Profer solutions to problems. That’s what employers want to see.

Even though it may likely not buy your conversion as a staff, it would increase your value as a person. You are first a person before being someone’s staff. Work at it!

Work experience is in phases, enjoy this one

A young entrepreneur who also works as an employee reached out to me one day. She shared all her frustrations as to how she was not getting fulfilments with her job. She mentioned how she knew this was not what she signed up for her life and all.

The truth is, at every point in life, we get bored. This is not just a contract thing, stop blaming it on the job. Because guess what, even if you were full time, you would still get bored.

All days are not the same, and all work experiences are in phases. You have to learn the art of enjoying the phases by creating systems that work for you.

At the financial job experience I told you about, every week became annoying because there had to be something new to do – things that were way out of the initial job description(JD).

Whichever way I felt did not matter to the company, the job had to be done anyway. And the only way to be happy with your job is to be happy with you, knowing that this is only a phase. You would get involved in better things and greater opportunities, so if you want to make your life count, you have to do it right.

Always work with the end in view

You know, many times, we are motivated in the present by having a vision of what’s to come. Doing your job with the end in mind is one sure way to enjoy what you’re doing currently.

So, pending the time you find something more ‘ghen-ghen’ (out of this world), let that ‘ghen-ghen’ thing inspire the not-so ‘ghen-ghen’ one.

The vision you have for yourself should drive your passion for what you do now. You may not like what you do now, but when you look at the experience later from the inside in, you’ll see it was necessary for your journey.

See the end in mind, Live the present, Create your future.

You vs Them: Staying relevant in the dawn of rising business competition

Never, ever, lose sight of your business game because of the competition Click To Tweet

Competition is everywhere. These days, everything is basically a competition in business, from online DIY blogs and vlogs giving clients all the information for the same services you render to the new enemy in the block rendering the exact same services or product your offer.

smh gif

On the bright side however, competition can be healthy for your business and customers too (they literally pray for it). Every customer loves to have a wide range of options and the universe is big enough to accommodate you and a million others to do business.

So rather than putting all your energy in prayers for your competitor(sss) to fold up pretty soon, it’ll be much better for you to start pouring all that energy into keeping your business relevant and on top the lighthouse, and here’s how:

First things first, avoiding irrelevance is the first major step to take in staying relevant

really? gifSo at every point, always halt and ask yourself (with or without the competition) if your business is still relevant. You should also ask if your relevance is slowly fading out. This helps you understand and reinvent your business better to fit the changing times.

Keep your eyes on the game:

cookie empire gifNever let your competitors get you all jerky and stuff. Stay focused on your business, consolidate on your strengths, and work on strengthening your weaknesses. Think about:

Build integrity for your business and keep it that way. Say what you have and offer what you can give, this will keep your customers coming back to you even after checking out a new competition. Never, ever, lose sight of your game because of the competition.

Do a Lil’ Checking Out: Eyes on your game all right, but a lil’ spying never hurt anybody.

cookie eyeing gifTake a moment to check out your competitors, do some quick research, find out all you can about them especially their greatest strength and weakness. Leverage on their weakness and see what you can do about their strength.

However, don’t panic and copycat the enemy in desperation. Don’t go slashing your prices when you clearly don’t need to, because your competitor has done so.

Do Not Be The Last To Trend:

Image result

Time waits for no one and so does technology. Whether it’s a start-up or full grown business, don’t stay sleeping on your achievements and get left behind. Be innovative, research on the latest technology, (and the ones to come) and constantly build your brand to fit in before you walk into a Kodak moment.

This also involves understanding that diverse locations have diverse customer needs. Know your customers and know what is in trend for them, like if they more concerned about service or quality, or price.

Spice Up Your Marketing Strategy:

http://i.giphy.com/26gse8RF1CXpVZ2nu.gif

Constantly make an effort to spice up your marketing strategy. It could be with a re-branded logo or a new tag line, loyalty discounts and promotions on your services and products, collaborating with other products or services related to yours, anything to customizing your bottle with individual consumers’ names (we know who did this one).

#MotherlandMogul key word: Keep it spiced up, don’t hang on stale strategy (even if it was once a major hit).

Take Care Of Your In-House:

maryj-gifTreat your employees great and make them understand the goal, cause employees can make or mar your business, sista. You don’t want your employees telling your clients (through words or actions) why patronizing your competitor might be a better idea.

We know the competition can be fierce sista, but so are you. So, put on some stilettos, and get to work; today is for good business *raises glass*