It’s another Monday and it’s time to get some inspiration from the women who are passionate about their careers. Today’s Pearls and Heels woman is Elsie Wandera. She works at Unilever as an External Stakeholders Assistant. She is also the founder of My Heart Scripted an organization that helps women plug into their purpose by pursuing purity. She is also the founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya which supports women who are suffering from endometriosis.
1. Describe your typical day?
My day usually starts at 5 am (when my alarm goes off) but I wake up later than that. I then spend some quiet time with God and use the same on my social media platforms. I then get to the office and focus on my deliverables for the day. I support a diverse team who are responsible for the Social Mission for Africa of our business. I walk home in the evening at least 3 times a week…this allows me to keep fit and relax from the day’s tensions. I sleep late because I like to read and catch up with my friends in the evening.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lawyer. However, my 2 siblings pursued law and I pursued Communication – Advertising & Journalism
3. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would go finish my undergraduate studies before getting my job. I think focusing on education while working was extremely difficult. There are classes I’d miss because of responsibilities at work. There’s also the aspect of work that exposes you to opportunities to apply and confirm the theories taught in a class.
4. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Planning, Communication & Attention to detail – are critical in a role any career. If you cannot organize your day others will organize it for you. I hold strongly that in my role I interface between the internal & external stakeholders and therefore communication skills are required to maintain & build relationships in order to achieve business objectives.
5. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi is great but not for my kind of work. The traffic is too much and limits the times you can have face-to-face meetings. I just think more organizations should leverage agile working – where you can work from home or wherever as long as you are connected to the Internet. I believe it allows one to not have to endure hours in traffic but yet be productive with time and embrace technology tools developed to support working agile. Have virtual meetings…not all meetings have to be face-to-face.
6. What motivates you?
I am motivated by challenges…I thrive on adrenaline to fix things, people etc. I love problems. I think I am encouraged when I know I can wake up to solve a problem because it is what sharpens me and keeps me on my toes always. It is another enabler of growth in a career like mine that requires a solution-oriented individual.
7. How do you define success?
I believe success is when those I am around have been impacted by my time in their space. If someone around me is encouraged & happy because of the time we have spent together as I deliver my responsibilities then for me the engagement would be a success.
8. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Pastor Muriithi Wanjau – Senior Pastor of Mavuno Church. His passion for Africa and the work he does to raise the army to influence the different sectors of society is where I draw from. He gives very practical solutions to questions about how you can impact the world in the time that we have on this earth. He is a very simple person and is not about focusing on himself but on the generation coming after him. I learn every day under his leadership and I am convinced that I am a fearless influencer today because I know my purpose – I am called to assist.
9. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
The fact that I work for an organization that is deliberate about changing the lives of its consumers and that I work with a team that defines the picture of success and what that would look like. I enjoy the fact that I enable my boss to focus on delivering business objectives by organizing her diary and planning her travel. That is what I love doing.
10. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Creative thinking allows you to deliver your work in a fun and different yet professional way. I believe self-awareness is something that can unlock your potential because when you know yourself – likes & dislikes, it can make you effective in your role and ensure you are doing what you love and enjoy. It allows you to focus & be single-minded about what resources you require to develop in your career.
11. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Don’t take things personally. Do not take offence. Remain professional at all costs. In my role, you will encounter different personalities and the only way to survive is to remember that people have different requirements/tastes and don’t be rigid because it prevents movement upward and you will be miserable in your role.
12. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of your career?
Working with supportive leaders has been the most fulfilling moment. It allowed me to stretch my wings in terms of growth. I was exposed to projects and entrusted with responsibility that allowed me to believe in myself. 2 years ago at BAT I was stretched – I coordinated a workshop that had over 200 participants (including 100 travelling into Nairobi) with 6 to 7 workshops running parallel for 5 days. It was the most intense moment of my life and anchored on the fact that I love what I do.
13. What makes you happy?
I am happy when other people are happy.
14. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I am a reading junkie. I also love good food & sharing it with friends. I love cooking and trying out ingredients & flavours. I host my friends over and we break bread together. Their smiling faces when we are eating make me happy.
15. Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
Leading more women in the pursuit of purity & purpose together with a creative agency.
You can interact with Elsie on her Twitter handle @IAMScripted.
Pearls And Heels: Larissa Cheloti