It’s another Monday and time for our Pearls And Heels segment. Today’s Pearls and Heels lady is Gina Din-Kariuki. Gina Din-Kariuki founded what was then Gina Din Corporate Communications in October 1997, and in so doing blazed a trail in the P.R. industry that many have since attempted to follow. Drawing upon her prior experience as Director of Corporate Affairs and Communication at Barclays Bank, Gina quickly grew GDCC into the leading independent P.R. firm in the country, a position which it holds to this day. Gina plays an active philanthropic role, serving in various capacities including Kenya Red Cross Goodwill Ambassador and Board Member of the National Children’s Council. Gina also plays an active role in the Gina Din Foundation.
1. Describe your typical day?
I am one of those people that finds routine lethal. So I am very lucky to have a job that allows me to do something different every day. I travel a lot with my job and love the adventure of exploring new places.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I am still waiting to grow up…But seriously I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I really didn’t enjoy school very much and my grades were not great. However, I loved to write and simply stumbled on journalism almost by default. No one really took me very seriously as a young adult, and I think that probably fuelled my relentless pursuit to not only do interesting things but to do them well.
3. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I feel very blessed that my reality has been even better than I could have ever dreamt. I can honestly say I have absolutely loved my journey with all its ups and downs and challenges. It’s been a fascinating life and continues to unfold in ways one cannot imagine.
4. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
PR is obviously very relationship based so clearly people skills are important. Of course, writing is critical and being able to remain calm in very stressful situations is a must. I must admit that’s a skill I have had to work very hard on.
5. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Our work isn’t confined to Nairobi or indeed to Kenya. We work right across Africa. It’s an exciting time for the communications industry, indeed Africa is the new African frontier. Right across the continent more and more organisations and individuals are seeing the benefit of ensuring the right person tells their story.
6. What motivates you?
I wouldn’t say there is one major motivating factor in my life but I am very driven by a combination of small wins and the ability to make progress in meaningful work. Next year my business will be 20 years old and naturally, the kind of work I like to do has evolved along the way. I now enjoy projects where I can bring my over 30 years of experience to the table.
7. How do you define success?
I have had a large amount of success in my career and feel very fortunate to have done so. My Group’s success has been about a fantastic team that I work with as well as responsive clients. Indeed we are the most awarded PR group on the continent and I feel very humbled by the recognition we have received. However, at the stage I am at, it’s more about significance and legacy. Whilst of course I am honoured by the recognition, I want to make my mark by working with young women across the continent.
8. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I have drawn inspiration from different people at different times in my life and my professional inspiration and my personal inspiration are exactly the same. I am inspired by people that are relentless and who never give up. My father was a real inspiration to me and at the risk of it being a bit of a cliché, he overcame huge challenges to become the success that he was. As I look back at his life I appreciate his foresight and know for a fact how he lived his life were lessons that continue to live with me.
9. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
I tend to learn as much as I can about my clients even random facts. Increasing one’s intellectual capital always sets you apart from other players. I take great pride in how I position my brand and believe successful companies want to partner with companies that are themselves successful. For me, the overriding factor to being successful is character and ensuring we can be trusted partners to our clients which means we often walk the extra mile to support our clients.
10. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
As you can imagine with nearly 20 years in the business I have had very many high moments. I feel very proud of what my team and I have built and am grateful for the platform it has given me to do other things and to experience the African continent in such depth. I have also had many low moments and challenging times. Success and failure are part of any organisation that has been around as long as we have and of course before I used to find the challenges very stressful but I now welcome success and failure in equal measure. Neither lasts forever.
11. What makes you happy?
I am on the whole quite a happy person and it really doesn’t take too much to make me laugh. I love spending time with my two children and watching them become accomplished in their own right.
12. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I read, write, practice yoga, and spend time as the Goodwill Ambassador of the Kenya Red Cross and travel. I am a bit of a gypsy and love the adventure of travel.
13. Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
In ten years I hope my foundation is impacting the lives of many young people across the continent. I always find questions like that quite hard. If ten years ago someone had told me I would be doing what I am doing today, I would never have believed them. I just tend to live one day at a time and love watching things unfold…
If you would like to interact with Gina Din find her on Twitter at @gina_din.