How did someone who began in diplomacy and financial services before moving to hospitality and events end up as part of a team that is trying to make online shopping the norm in Kenya? Read on to find out more.
What do you do at Masoko, and what drives you to wake up every day and go to work?
I’m part of Masoko’s commercial team, and my role is to ensure that we create brand awareness and brand love. What drives me is the challenge to make Masoko the No.1 online shopping platform in Africa!
What do you love about your job?
It’s e-commerce, it’s a way of life – or at least it should be! What’s not to love about it? It’s also such a great challenge, being part of a team that is building something from the ground up. I’ve only been doing this for six months (since October 2018), I can’t wait to see what we’ll accomplish.
Did you always want to work in marketing?
I absolutely love marketing! That’s why I studied it. It’s my forte and I truly thrive on it. During my Bachelor’s degree, my thesis was based on consumer behavior on frozen food and my Master’s thesis was on sponsorship. Gaining knowledge and reading success and failure studies even made me more curious as to how this knowledge can be applied. Marketing is a business philosophy on how consumers (people like you and me) would react to any product or service offered.
What was your first job, and how did you find yourself working in e-commerce?
When I was 19 I started working at the British High Commission as a Data Entry clerk in September 2003, which then progressed to registering British Overseas Citizens (BOC) to British Citizens. This meant I had to learn British nationality law on the job and advise BOC on their rights. My first job working at the Foreign Office was pretty sleek! First celebrity encounter was meeting Princess Anne – a real life royal!
After three years at the Embassy I decided to move to the UK to complete my final year in Business Management. After completion of my studies, I joined the mortgages marketing team Nationwide Building Society (a British mutual financial institution). That’s when I decided to study marketing and events for my Masters.
After this I got the privilege to be part of a rebrand project at Friends Provident – now called Friends Life – which is a life insurance company in the UK.
Five years after leaving home, I decided to move back to Nairobi. Almost as soon as I got back I was approached to join the founding team of Capital Club East Africa, a private premiere business club and the first of its kind in Africa, as a Membership Manager. Being part of this team gave me the opportunity to network with some of East Africa biggest movers and shakers in business.
I moved to MoSound in April 2016 when they were just setting up the events arm of their business, and Safaricom was my main client. I guess we can say that’s how I got my foot in the door, and that’s how I eventually ended up at Masoko.
Everyone was so curious about Capital Club when it opened, it was like this mysterious club that was so exclusive; it was almost envy-inducing! What was it like, being a part of the inception team?
Definitely challenging, very exciting, fun and prestigious at the same time! Imagine being a young woman meeting CEO’s of some of East Africa’s most successful companies, having one-on-one conversations with them and then selling them your idea. The icing on the cake was trying to convince them to invest in a dream, and pay upfront for something that didn’t exist yet.
I ended up spending four years at Capital Club, and I had so many rich experiences while there. I could easily write a book about it!
So what’s the difference between working in marketing for an exclusive club, and for an events agency?
I used to create, plan and execute Capital Club events on a daily basis, but these were for less than 250 guests – and that was on the higher side.
When it comes to Safaricom events, we could have anything from 250 to 4,000 guests, and if you’re handling the Safaricom International Jazz festival you’re looking at 6,000 – 10,000 people in one place. One day you’re in Nairobi and the next you could be in Naivasha, Eldoret or even Kakuma refugee camp!
Having Safaricom as a client when I was at MoSound allowed me to explore Kenya in ways I never had, and to learn a lot from handling a wide range of events: from music festivals to product launches, awards ceremonies to conferences, board meetings to corporate team building events. The only thing I haven’t managed to do is a wedding!
How did these experiences shape you?
I’ve learned a few valuable lessons along the way, and I’m still learning. But the most powerful lessons have been that organization is key; learn to enjoy the small victories; nothing comes easy – you must work for what you want, and it’s hard to leave work ‘at work’ when you enjoy what you do.
Are you a planner?
Everyone says you should have a 3-year career plan, 5 and then 10. I actually don’t. I grab opportunities and make the most of it! I like to go with the flow, see where it takes me.
What is the one constant that has been present throughout your career?
I gotta make my mum and dad proud of me. My family is the backbone that supports my success!
Formal training or work experience: which would you go for?
My experience has been my biggest guru, so learning on the job definitely carries a lot of weight.
Are you a risk taker?
Calculated risk is what I take. The rest I leave to fate and my ability to make things happen.
I tend to find purpose within my role, and once I achieve something, I move on and find another challenge. I’m stubborn, so I don’t quit, and I never leave my business unfinished.
Have you failed?
Several times actually. I even failed my first driving test! But you have to fail in order to learn, to grow and to perfect your art.
How do you deal with failure or disappointment?
I’m not ashamed to say that sometimes I cry it out, because I’m a crier. It helps me get my feelings out. Sometimes I just eat a slice of scrumptious cake and then I take time to reflect on what went wrong so I can fix it.
What do you do to relax?
I kick box three times a week, bake on Sunday’s (I try to be the household Master Chef in the Pattani family), and I travel. Absolutely love exploring new cities and going on new adventures.
What advice would you give young marketers or anyone just starting out in their career?
I’ve received tonnes of good advice since starting out, but I think one of the most important pieces of advice has to be that it’s important to identify what you truly love doing, because you don’t want to work just to pay the bills.
Always surround yourself with people who will encourage and support you. Listen to experienced people and listen good…I mostly read motivational books and articles. Push the boundaries always. Be true to yourself… be you. Also, there’s no room for negativity!
Let’s wrap this up with a quote. What’s your favourite?
Muhammad Ali quotes are my favourites. If I had to pick just one, it would be: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
Faces of Safaricom brings you the stories of the men and women behind one of Kenya’ most iconic brands.