Every Monday we have our Pearls and Heels segment where we interview women on their different careers. Our Pearls and Heels lady today is Ivy Mutisya. Ivy Mutisya says she is a child parading around as an adult. She thinks she is doing alright. She works for UN-Habitat under advocacy and communications. She manages a little studio for the agency. Ivy feels like she’s learnt so much from this job in aspects where urban planning is concerned.
1. Describe your typical day?
My typical day starts off with a game of tag, between my alarm clock and my palm. We chase each other around until I give in. I’m not a morning person. The commute to the office is enjoyable for me. Especially because I’m always going against traffic. I whiz past what looks like a parking lot on Thika road or Kiambu road. Is it mean that it gives me pleasure?
I’m usually catching up on emails on my phone anyway but the first thing I do when I get to my desk is checking emails before I run off to find some breakfast. A girl’s gotta eat. Well…depending on the kind of schedule planned out for the day. Food sometimes has to wait.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
What I wanted to be when I was younger was everything. Everything looked fun and captivating. Those law shows on tv won me over. I would imagine holding a jury captive with my confidence and ingenuity as I got a guilty person to confess on the stand and win my case. It was all a performance in my head. Journalism took an absent-minded role in high school. Joining the club lit a fire that kindled and burned strongly over the years. The rest is herstory- I know, I’m so corny.
3. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Would I do things differently? I don’t know if I’d trade the experiences that I’ve had or bypass the connections that I have made with people for anything. For better? I don’t think that the grass on the other side could be sweeter.
4. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Tolerance. You meet people who don’t appreciate this line of work. You have to put your own feelings and frustration aside to get the job done.
You also need to motivate yourself, external forces are great but you have to be able to rejuvenate yourself. This keeps your production quality above par.
The third skill revolves around learning and keeping up with technology. Asking questions when you meet people who do similar jobs about how they handle challenges and borrowing from their creative wealth.
5. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
I love Nairobi. There’s such a vibrant energy to the city. Communications and marketing have birthed firms that worship creativity and intellect. The city feeds off that energy. Is there a city as hungry and open to diversity as ours?
6. What motivates you?
What motivates me? Hope for the future. People. The family especially (hi Mom). Hunger for growth on a mental and spiritual level.
7. How do you define success?
I don’t actually know how to measure success where there are no statistics to back it. You know… YouTube views and website hits. I feel like I’m doing a good job when I eavesdrop and catch strangers having a conversation about UN-Habitat. It’s that “aah they know we are here”
8. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My bosses serve as great inspiration. They encourage me to step out of the box set by my job description. They reward my vision by backing my ideas and giving me support guidance and feedback. I feel that feedback is so important. Feedback says to me ” I’m interested enough in you and what you are doing to take time and review your work and tell you what I think”. It’s great when you feel cared for within office dynamics.
9. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
The best thing about my job is the people I’ve been able to meet *cough, Banki Moon, cough*. Hehe. But seriously their diversity in race, background and status in life has shown me a range of wealth in character. Watching people do the best with what they have is a wonderful thing to see.
10. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
I would say that the key element to being successful is the ability to really hear a person when they talk to you about their vision or ideas on whatever you need to translate visually or artistically.
Being open to what other people are saying to you feeds into your creative pool. Don’t get bogged down by your limited skills or inability at the creative stage, work all that out ahead. I promise you will surprise yourself!
11. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
To those starting out, I would say glory comes later. Right now understand that every small job or role that you get will grow you. Hang on to the connections you make at this stage they just might be the ones that elevate you. If you want to make an impression, work your butt off. Make it worth their while to call you back.
12. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of your career?
There have been many small victories in my job. But I think doing my first stop motion project for UN-Habitat and having it be a big hit was amazing. I’m only just now coming down from that high, a year later. I’m looking forward to seeing what the team does this year and being a part of it. I hope we hit it out of the park this year.
13. What makes you happy?
People make me happy. I’m definitely built for connections. I like conversation and its ability to take you on a journey through another person’s mind.
My friends are kinda cool too. Wit, charm and lunacy what more could a girl ask for?
My mother is also amazing. She is a constant source of joy and companionship.
14. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I love to travel. I want to tick every National Park in the country off my list. I want to see as much of this beautiful nation as there is to see and then I want to see everything else.
In my non-work time, I build pillow-forts. I sit in them and pretend I’m a cat. Purring and forcing people to love me.
15. Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
In ten years I want the ways in which I identify myself to grow. I’m hoping to include mother, wife and leader.
Pearls And Heels: Wanjiru Kihusa