Today on Pearls and Heels we find out more about Communications Specialist Wanjiru Gaitho. Shiro says that she is a PR chick by day and all-around amazing person 24-7. She is currently working in PR at Safaricom and trying to juggle work, marriage and social life (and it looks like she’s making it work!) Shiro is also an amazing writer so please make sure you check out her blog.
1. Describe your typical day?
I struggle to get out of bed every single day! I’m not much of a morning person so I fake being awake until about 10 am when the brain kicks in properly. Before that, I’m catching up on media coverage and emails upon emails. My days are pretty unpredictable…what’s constant though is emails, meetings and lots of reading and writing. And phone calls!
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh, I went from wanting to be a hairdresser (circa 1997) to a fashion designer (1999) to a cardiologist (2002) to a writer (I still want that to happen).
3. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing really. I think everything I’ve done has prepared me and made me right for where I am right now. A lot of people ask me why I left business reporting on TV – turns out it’s a dream job for many – but the truth is, I just wasn’t enjoying it. But being there taught me some valuable life skills: networking, being confident no matter the fancy titles those around you have and how to be pleasant even when all you really want is to hurt somebody. Shout out to all the folks at Citizen TV who taught me that mean mugging can be good for your career!
4. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
I’ll give you four. Passion, schmoozing, honesty and patience.
Passion. If I didn’t enjoy writing I’d probably hate my job, so I’m glad I’m passionate about it.
Schmoozing gets a bad rap, but it’s about human psychology if you ask me. You need to understand people and why they do what they do, what they want, and how they want it, and being around them – and being pleasant while at it – helps. It’s not to be confused with being an a** kisser.
Honesty with yourself and those around you. If more people were we’d all be happier.
Patience. Because many times people will ask for something and you’ll do it and they’ll come back asking you to do it differently and it can hurt, especially if you thought you’d done an amazing job. But that hurt is great for learning, I’ll tell you that.
5. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
I think it’s pretty great. Nairobi is an interesting city and in my world, there’s always something going on. Plus more brands, and more people are understanding the importance of PR practitioners, though we’ve got a ways to go before guys can really understand that PR is more than parties, media relations and cleaning up messes.
6. What motivates you?
A desire to sit down, look back and say: “You did good, Shiro; you did good.”
7. How do you define success?
Finding happiness in what you do, whatever it is.
8. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My mom and dad. I know it sounds corny but these two human beings have done so much for me and been so much to me. I really don’t know where I’d be today if I didn’t have the parents I have. They’ve worked hard, made an honest living and raised a crazy family. I love them to bits! Plus, they love life so they work hard and play hard. My dad taught me how to serve a double whisky *smiles and winks* Never mind that I can’t stand it.
9. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
Meeting people, writing stuff and having guys appreciate it. Oh, and not having to wear suits. I don’t own a single suit.
10. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
I’m still chasing success and trying to find it in the little things every day. I can’t really say what makes one successful apart from what I said before – find happiness in whatever you do – but I know what success is not: posing up in this town with your flashy car, expensive apartment and trendy threads, while you know deep inside that your life is empty. Nairobi has way too many people trying to live “Instagram-worthy” lives.
One thing I celebrate though is not having unread emails: I suffer from “Inbox-Zero” syndrome.
11. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Be curious, ask questions, chase perfection in your work, and be nice to people. Treat people the way you’d like them to treat you, but remember that people will treat you how you let them and that could go anyway (my mom taught me that).
12. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of your career?
Walking out of a job I wasn’t happy at, and being approached by Safaricom. It’s great to know that you can walk out and get another job because your work and reputation speak well for you; and that you don’t always have to be the one applying for jobs because if you do your job well and are pleasant to work with, someone somewhere will notice you.
13. What makes you happy?
Food! I love food. There’s nothing better than a good meal enjoyed with:
b) A good book – I don’t understand people who don’t read.
I’m also really into interior décor lately; it’s growing on me so I spend a lot of time poring over designs and accessories. TACC has become my new happy place.
I like superhero flicks just like the average teenage boy. And pretty shoes. You cannot underestimate the power of pretty shoes.
14. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I read a lot, listen to music, stalk people on Instagram, eat and try to be the most amazing struggling blogger ever.
15. Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
That’s hard…I’ve never been much of a planner, to be honest. What I know I’d really like to be in 10 years is someone who’s made a difference in somebody else’s life. I want to give more and be more. In whatever form that comes (apart from weight gain).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We're all stories, in the end.” ― Steven Moffat