Today our Pearls And Heels lady is Kellie Murungi. Kellie Murungi runs Lattice Training, where they offer customized training solutions for businesses of all sizes, from startup entrepreneurs all the way to large corporations. She is also a trainer for their Business Acumen course, which imparts finance and business skills using a fun, educative simulation. Kellie also blogs as a hobby, mainly about personal finance. She is a full time mother to a 4 year old, and a last born of 3 girls. Kellie says she is a thinker, always turning ideas and things over in her head and testing them out for a fit. She pushes boundaries. She believes in questioning everything, and challenging what is viewed as the norm by society…actually, she dislikes society, she says nothing cool comes out of societal ideas.
Describe your typical day?
My typical, good day starts at 5 am with a big glass of hot water with lemon, after which I prepare to head out to the office. I hate traffic, so I try to be in the office by 6 am latest. My work day always starts by “swallowing the frog”- doing the hardest task on my list first, then as everyone comes in at 8 am I work on emails, make cold calls to potential clients, handle internal and external meetings and all. My typical work day ends at around 3-4pm (unless I have an evening work meeting), then I go home to connect with my 4 year old. She sleeps at 7:30pm so after that I relax, have dinner, drink some tea and read, tweet etc till I sleep at 10:30-11:00pm.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a doctor, and I actually worked really hard towards it, but life works in wondrous ways sometimes.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I do not have a career. I’ve never desired a career path, because I find it a really boring way to do life. I tend to just go for things I find interesting and fulfilling, and to keep doing them until they stop being fulfilling. As a result, I have developed a wide range of skills, though it makes the career question hard to answer. I still wouldn’t have it any other way.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Selling skills. As an introvert, I always avoided jobs that would need me to go out and sell, but at my current job, I’m always selling. I’ve mastered the art of the cold emails and calls, and I’m learning how to network with strangers!
Ability to “multitask”. The multitask is in quotes because I don’t mean ability to do many things at once, but the ability to do a range of things excellently. As a start up manager, I am the finance head, chief seller, I do web copy, I train etc, because we do not have the luxury of a huge team. The web has been a precious source for me, I’ve learned many skills I didn’t have.
Money management skills. You don’t always have the money to do what big corporations can do, yet you do need to get things done. So you learn to improvise, and do everything to save some money.
As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi (Kenya) has a lot more opportunities for young businesses than most places, so I would say it is open to me. However, the lack of necessary public services, and the high cost of doing business also makes it very hard to sustainably make profits. I also wish I wouldn’t need to get to work at 6 am for a decent commute.
What motivates you?
I’m a builder. I like creating and building new things, and that keeps me motivated.
How do you define success?
For me, success is all round. To be accomplished in my work, to have a happy family life, good health, have enough money to live comfortably and most importantly, peace of mind.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My late grandfather, Japhlet Thambu. He was the real deal. He quit teaching to fight with the Mau Mau, resumed teaching and in 1983 when I was born, he retired to be a successful farmer who also founded one of the biggest SACCOs in my area. Amidst all that, he made time to teach me “handwriting”, take me to the Museum, bring me to Nairobi for the very first time etc, and along the way impart precious life wisdom. Despite being of another generation, my grandpa taught me a whole range of life stuff, from personal finance management, to job hunting, investing, and believe it or not, dating and marriage!
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
The training bit. I genuinely enjoy it, especially because we use a simulation where participants run real business. It’s fun to see the competitiveness, and the learning that results from being fully immersed.
What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
We all define success differently, but I’ve found that being conscious is key element if you want to find success that resonates with the core of who you are as a person. Consciousness to me means always evaluating and questioning the way you’re living, thinking over decisions and views you hold, and not just doing things because everyone is doing them. Some call this over-thinking, I believe it is key to success, no matter what success looks to you. The second is being fearless.
What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Learn how to do many different things. Become multi-skilled.
What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?
Every point of my career has been super satisfying and fulfilling, save for twice when I suffered burn out, because of taking on more than I could handle. Otherwise, most of my days are great.
What makes you happy?
Freedom. In all life aspects, the freedom to pick my path makes me happy.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I read a lot, hiking and outdoors. I also spend a lot of time with my family (sisters, nieces etc).
Where you see yourself in around 10 years?
I don’t look that far ahead. The only thing I know is that my daughter will be in high school around that time, and the only reason I know this is that children force you to look far ahead. Otherwise, I plan just a couple of months at a time.