Every Monday we have our Pearls and Heels segment where we feature women and their careers. Our lady today is Wendy Malinda. Wendy Malinda is a Country Success Manager at Oracle and the Founder of Living In Step Africa (L.I.S.A). Living In Step Africa is an organization devoted to helping women deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of starting a new family with children from previous relationships. As a certified stepfamily coach, Wendy works with women and men who are married to, living with or dating someone with children from a previous relationship, enabling them to learn, love and thrive in their stepfamilies. Wendy offers personal and group coaching sessions. She is also a blogger and speaker. She holds regular talks at LISA as well as other platforms upon request.
- Describe your typical day?
My day kicks off at 5 am in the morning. I still don’t consider myself to be a morning person but the dreams I am chasing have forced me to utilize every single minute of my day. My morning routine includes dropping off my daughter at school, and meeting a client for a consult before getting to the office usually around 8 am. After 5 pm I have the personal coaching sessions or hit the gym. Evenings involve helping out with homework and bonding with the family. I wind down by reading a chapter of my current book before sleeping usually at 10 pm.
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
I think it’s easier to answer the question “what didn’t I want to be” which would be a pilot. I am still puzzled how I never thought about it growing up. Otherwise, I did the whole cliché list of doctor, lawyer, and engineer.
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would focus on my true passion not on what others think is best for me. That sweet spot where I do what I love and other people need it, find it amazing and are willing to pay for it. I have come to learn that there is so much more than the standard dream our folks sold to us growing up of going to school and getting a well-paying stable job. That said I also believe that all my experiences have prepared me for where I am right now and I wouldn’t change any bit of that.
- What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
I have two jobs. An 8-5 where I work as a Country Success Manager at Oracle ensuring our customers are getting value from the technologies they employ in their businesses and a 5-9 as a Certified Stepfamily Coach at Living In Step Africa, a company that I founded. Here, I coach women and men who are dating, living with or married to someone who has children from a previous relationship. Enabling them to overcome the sometimes overwhelming challenge that comes with being in a blended family. The skills I have found critical to my work are;
Time management is very crucial. Helps me ensure that I am effective in both my roles.
Strong communication skills are important because this is how your persona shows as well as your ability to get along with other colleagues, articulate your ideas and persuade others to listen to them and so much more.
Flexibility is key as you need to have the ability to bend your own rules when things do not follow the ideal path which is more often than not. Being able to adapt easily and quickly to change, trying a new approach to get results
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
I have never really thought about this one, I was born and raised in Nairobi so I guess over the years I have taken some things for granted. I think being the Capital, which also happens to be the hub for the East African region, offers great opportunities to everyone but due to the competition it also means that you must be smart and willing to put in the work plus a little extra in order to stand out. Nothing comes easy.
- What motivates you?
I constantly ask myself “What legacy do you want to leave Wendy?” It keeps me focused on the bigger picture of everything I set out to do, what is really important, the stuff that lasts years after you are gone. It also makes me think beyond myself. As human beings, it is so easy to get into selfish mode. I have been blessed to have many different beautiful people in my life who challenge me to be a better person, wife, mother, friend and professional.
- How do you define success?
My definition of success is always evolving based on which season of my life I am in. When I was younger it was defined as having a great job, earning a six-figure salary and a lot of material stuff. Right now it’s more about the quality of my life, my relationships with family and friends and just being the best version of me at any one point in my life. It’s also about lifting someone else up and helping them achieve their own definition of success.
- Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I don’t think I can really put it on one person. Different people have contributed to the person I am today and the success in my life. My husband, my children, my family, friends as well as complete strangers have all inspired me in one way or another to be a better person.
- What is your favourite aspect of your job?
As Certified Stepfamily coach people trust me with the most intimate family life stories as they seek to be better spouses, mothers and fathers for a healthy and happy home. I love being part of the process and seeing the transition from the point where they feel stuck, to where they accept and embrace their journey with confidence. The excitement in their feedback that things are finally working out makes my day. Other times this very thing scares me because it makes me well aware that people’s lives are in my hands and I cannot afford to screw up in any way.
- What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
First, you have to define and have a very clear picture of what success looks like for you otherwise you will spend time, energy and money living up to other people’s definitions of it and there is no joy on this path because no matter what you do, it will never be enough.
You also have got to look fear straight in the eyes and say “Get out of my way, I have things to do”. When I started LISA I had a lot of fear. What would people think of me; starting with my own partner and kids after openly sharing my experiences as a stepmom, who would come in for the coaching seeing as this is the very first kind of offering in Kenya, would I succeed or fail? I had a long list of questions and doubts that I used to try and talk myself out of doing it. With all these monsters in my head, I went ahead and did it. No one is fearless. We all have fear! The only difference is that successful people pursue their dreams despite their fear while unsuccessful ones give in to their fears.
- What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Do your research, find out what it is that you need to have in terms of qualifications and skills for the job and go for it.
- What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of your career?
Just getting the feedback that my work has changed someone’s life is the reason why I wake up and continue doing this day in, day out
- What makes you happy?
I believe that happiness is a choice. It has very little to do with what you have or who is around you. Every day I make a conscious decision to choose joy even when things are not going my way.
- What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I really enjoy cooking; it gives me such pleasure and joy, weirdly therapeutic as well. I love to travel and appreciate the history of the various destinations. I enjoy the outdoors, music and dancing. I am a member of the Rotary Club of Muthaiga which provides an avenue for me to give back to less privileged communities.
- Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
Personally, I want to have invested more in making lasting memories with my family and friends with a huge ass photo album to tell the story. As for my career right now I am working on building LISA and getting people to be comfortable having the stepfamily conversation. In 10 years I would love to see it expand to other African countries.
If you would like to interact with Wendy you can find her on Twitter at @wendymalinda. If you would like to find out more about Stepfamilies and step-parenting check out the website www.livinginstepafrica.com. You can also follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LivingInStepAfrica.
Check out Pearls And Heels: Irene Nyambura