Jane Mberia is a lady with a big heart and an amazing work ethic. Jane Mberia is our Pearls And Heels interviewee for today. Jane works for Continental Reinsurance. Previously she worked for East Africa Reinsurance Ltd and Housing Finance. Jane has a Masters from the University of Nairobi in Strategic Planning and Finance and a Bcom from Kenyatta University. She is also a Chartered Accountant from Strathmore College of Accountancy. She is a member of the Institute Certified Public Accountants of Kenya, Credit Management Kenya (ICM) and Chartered Insurance Institute, London. Jane is also a Rotarian and a member of Rotary International. Jane has one son whose name is Adam.
1. Describe your typical day?
My day starts at 5.45 am in the morning. I start with prayers to kick start my day, wake up my son Adam 30 minutes later, prepare, have breakfast and leave for school at 7 am. I drop him off at school and then head to the office where I start my morning tasks. I take my lunch between 1.30 pm to 2.15 pm and resume my afternoon tasks. Somedays, I find myself eating at 4 pm and my colleagues ask if I am having lunch or dinner and I simply tell them…Ludi…lol. My afternoon ends at 5 pm and I then head home or may attend occasional Rotary fellowships. Evenings are characterized by helping my son with his homework. Wednesday lunch is different because I spend time at fellowship with my fellow Rotarians (1.00 pm to 2.00 pm).
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
An Electrical Engineer. Somehow I was a tomboy at the beginning- don’t know how this changed. I was always in the company of boys fixing wires, making toy radios, climbing trees, fixing estate aerials and fixing cars. My uncle was an engineer and whenever I visited, I would enjoy reading his books. Later on, I enjoyed mathematics more than science and by the time I was in high school, I wanted to become an accountant or statistician.
3. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Let me see…I would not change anything as I have done my best and enjoy what I do. Accounting is simple and manageable, and the bulk is about proper record keeping and I am good at that. I was trained by the best college, ie Strathmore College of Accountancy and by the best lecturer Dr. Jim McFie, who simplified everything for me. My jobs have also been very fulfilling and I continue to enjoy every bit of it.
4. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Organization, time management and communication.
As I earlier mentioned, the bulk of the accounting profession is bookkeeping and organization is very crucial. All documents must be preserved and all payments must be substantiated.
Accounting is also all about timelines and deadlines must be met for a lot of people rely on accounting data to make day-to-day and strategic decisions.
Communication is essential as the accountant communicates to everyone and has to disseminate the information in the simplest of methods that are clearly understood. Accountants must express themselves expressly.
5. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi is a hub and is perfect and there are very many opportunities. I mingle with accountants from a very wide variety of industries and nationalities and there is continuous learning. With devolution, my accountancy body ICPAK has now opened branches in key towns to decentralize their services and to ensure that all accountants have affordable access to continuous learning.
6. What motivates you?
Desire to succeed. Every day, I rise up and work even harder in a bid to be very successful. Meeting all my set goals, encountering new challenges and conquering them, and the satisfaction I feel after that makes me feel really good. That motivates me so much and I work even harder on my next tasks.
7. How do you define success?
Success is very subjective and for me, it’s about being content. Content is about appreciating your current situation and believing that you give it your best shot. It is about happiness. I always wonder, when did we human beings become so insatiable? Before I was looking for a prime job, a car, my house, more money et all, then I got them, then I wanted more and more and it never stops. I have learnt to sit back, breathe in, and shout THANK YOU LORD! And indeed, the Lord gives you that special gift of being content and to be grateful. This coupled with happily doing what I love and having excess to give back to the community completes me.
8. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Mother Teresa. She inspires me to give back to the less fortunate and indeed, giving of my resources to help those in need is my joy. Imagine a world where everyone minded the others’ welfare, showing love to the less fortunate among other acts of kindness and love. And remember, it is only in giving that one receives. I have many personal testimonies about this from giving my job my all and rising up the ranks to touching lives on a daily basis.
9. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
Numbers and key decisions. The beauty about my job is that numbers tell a lot. It saves a lot of time spent discussing and decisions are easily made. My best moments are when I have helped my company and other organizations make key decisions that have seen us grow and become better.
10. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Integrity and passion. Integrity revolves around being true to yourself. It is about being diligent in everything that you do and honouring your word thus becoming reliable. This plus passion completes it. Do what you love and be passionate about it and do it diligently!
11. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Be confident and assertive. I want to assume that that person is in the accounting profession because they are passionate about it and not merely because society forced them. Then, they should step out boldly as there are very many opportunities and only the best get them.
12. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of your career?
Helping others grow in their career as I was mentored. I now supervise a Finance department and have many young professionals working under me; some straight from universities. Working with them, and then assessing them six months later is my joy. I feel so satisfied when they grow into their jobs and become successful. It is even better when they become so good and even better than me and also teach me. Then I sigh and say…I am a successful boss! I have also volunteered my skills to schools, children’s homes and just taught them basic bookkeeping making them accountable and get more donor trust.
13. What makes you happy?
Accomplishing my goals and touching lives. When my juniors and friends say that I inspired them and made them better…I cannot ask for more!
14. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Humanity work, hiking, reading and travelling.
I am a very active Rotarian and have held various positions from being president of my club, being an Assistant Governor, and a cadre; and have done very many projects for my community.
Oh. I read many books from novels, journals to newspapers and magazines.
I enjoy hiking. I recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and I am planning to climb Mount. Kenya. I have climbed very many other mountains in the country.
Travelling. I have travelled to various countries within Africa, America, South America, Europe and Asia.
15. Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
Serving my country as a decision maker at both national and international levels. Maybe I will be the President of the Republic of Kenya! But with very few press conferences and minimum campaigns.
Pearls And Heels: Kellie Murungi