It’s another Monday and time to meet one of the women who I would say is a spot of sunshine in Nairobi. It’s time for Pearls and Heels today and our guest who lives, works, and bakes among other things is Naomi Mutua. Naomi Mutua says that who she is depends on where she is and what she’s doing, and what day it is. By day she is a new-age PR practitioner – or she would like to think of herself that way. The digital space has changed how brands interact with consumers and this has forced the brands to engage actively, as well as learn to protect their reputation. With social media tools giving the consumer license to speak, it’s a double-edged sword with which they can either build or break you in less than 140 characters.
Aside from Digital PR, she rescues cats through Adopt a Cat Kenya, and she also bakes, in a need to fill this world with sweet baked goods.
1. Describe your typical day?
There’s no typical day really. The most set routine is that I know what time to wake up, feed my cats, and off to work. Once I get to work, the conversations of the audience online dictate my day. Some days are good, others are from the other side of hell. Yes, really.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lawyer – I could outmanoeuvre anyone in a discussion and win an argument. I didn’t attain the grade needed to get into law school – missed it by one measly point.
I also wanted to be a vet – my passion for dealing with and helping animals started when I was young, and we lived on a farm. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the stomach for killing animals in the lab, so my biology classes were shelved.
3. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I’d study more – I was smart but lazy, so I didn’t study and relied on my smarts. I’d also make an active decision in my career. I just did what was handed to me. Kids nowadays don’t realize the resources they have to learn and find out things, they should utilize Google and the adults around them more.
4. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Patience – you need to be able to deal with clients and the audience, and the sometimes incredulous demands they make.
Good listening – you have to hear and read between the lines, and understand the unsaid.
Be a social media junkie – you have to learn to navigate platforms as fast as they come up, and be able to trawl through them for the news and information you need.
Relationship management skills – if you don’t know how to deal with your clients, your audience and more importantly, those who influence what happens around your brands, then you’re going nowhere fast.
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 to work in. Brands are more switched on and flexible, naturally leading the pack in the region. Can’t have it better than that. And we have freedom of speech online – for the greater part.
6. What motivates you?
The fact that I have to pay my bills – isn’t that enough? Haha.
I love changing perceptions and drawing on the positives in any story and dealing with conflict. I love to see people happy, whether it’s by managing brands, baking cakes, or bringing a cat into their home.
7. How do you define success?
Success is discontent – I think once we’re content, we’ve reached our peak. There is a need to be hungry for more (but don’t mistake it for greed). Success is also changing something or someone for the better and inspiring them to pay it forward.
8. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My mom. She’s amazing. From raising us singlehandedly for the most part and making sure we turned out right. She did a great job, if I may say so.
9. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
I get to meet the most interesting people either as clients or as customers. Their stories are different and it teaches you not to judge people by their cover.
10. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Hard work – lazy people are either born with money or won’t succeed at what they do.
Patience – nothing will happen in a day unless you’re a crook. Have the patience to build your empire.
Giving to others – giving back to others, humans or animals will bring you joy and blessings. Give to those who need it more than you do.
11. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Learn to be discerning about what your principles are – they will matter, regardless of your line of work. If you land a job because of office politics, you will lose it in the same way.
Study something new every week or month – even if it doesn’t relate to your line of work.
Teach someone something – let your juniors learn from you. That way they grow to appreciate you more, and you also get to have a great team!
12. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of your career?
Being able to create a whole new department at Ogilvy Public Relations. Social PR is virtually unheard of in Kenya – most people deal with it as part of social media and community management.
13. What makes you happy?
Cats. Inexplicably. They can be amusing, sweet, loving, full of personality and self-absorbed and arrogant at the same time.
14. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I bake or cook to relax my mind or travel to unwind. I rescue cats cause of the joy it gives me to see them in a loving home. I plant and hug trees to nurture the environment that restores my spirit. I become a couch potato when it calls for. It really depends on the day I’m having, and the time I have on my hands.
15. Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
Living on a farm, with 200 cats, running my own bakery, and happily living life on my own terms. Is that too much to ask for?
If you would like to interact with Naomi find her on Twitter at @akenyangirl.
Potentash Founder. A creative writer. The Managing Editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories and stories about the inclusion of minorities. Find me at email@example.com.
“We're all stories, in the end.” ― Steven Moffat