Today our Pearls and Heels lady is Rakhee Kimatrai Mediratta. Rakhee Kimatrai Mediratta is a Business and Strategy consultant with a focus on driving entrepreneurship in Kenya and on the continent.
Rakhee says “I spent a large part of my career in traditional consulting firms. Consulting sounded like a great career for someone like me who never really knew what I was truly passionate about for a long time. It gave me an opportunity experience a wide variety of industries. I started my career with Deloitte in Kenya. I spent four years working on strategy, business operations, HR, and IT across several sectors: agriculture, financial services and advertising.
I travelled to Dubai in 2001 and decided it would be a great experience to work in a market that was yet to realize its boom. I worked with KPMG for 2 years in leisure and tourism and banking. I got married and moved to South Africa where my husband was based and went back to work with Deloitte – I was so blessed to work on projects like the potential merger between Sasol Oil and Engen and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
After the birth of my first son, the pull to come back home grew – so we moved back to Kenya and I realized that in order for me to be a truly great consultant I would need to work in the industry to really understand the impact that my recommendations would have on businesses. I started working with a real estate company in the capacity of a consultant setting up a PMO and then ended up taking on the role to be their GM for two and a half years. Thereafter I started working as the COO of a non-profit African Leadership Network (ALN) that was focused on developing the next generation of leaders and fostering entrepreneurship on the continent.
After 2 years I realized that it was time to really set up my own thing. That was when Insinc Consulting was born. Since inception, I have worked on a myriad of different projects. KCB Lions Den which is the official version of Shark Tank/Dragons Den Kenya. I have clients looking at market entry strategies into African markets, feasibilities for agriculture projects in Tanzania and Ethiopia and lastly a turnaround strategy for an insurance company.”
Describe your typical day.
There is no such thing as a typical day for me. Given the nature of consulting and the fact that I am a mother of two fantastic boys – my days change vastly. There are some days where work is a little slow and I can spend all day lounging and other days where I am constantly the hamster running 10 miles an hour on the wheel!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I had no idea. It would change from day to day and honestly, it continued until university. Even after I graduated with the traditional “business” degree that Indians tend to favour I had no clue. I really wanted to study philosophy but my dad was clear… “that is not gonna put food on your table”. What I lacked in direction I most certainly made up for in passion – when I finally found my calling as a consultant.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would listen more. Everyone has something they can teach you if you are open to hearing it. Without judgement. I think when I was younger I had that “know it all” attitude that really didn’t do me any favours. My father always said “ you have two ears and one mouth for a reason” – he was right.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Passion – gosh I know it is such a cliché that word and honestly if I could find another word to replace it but still have the zest, I would. If you do any job with fervour and excitement you will succeed.
Being open to new ideas – I recently took on a client that is in TV production and never in my wildest dreams could I have hoped for a more fulfilling experience. I learned new things every single day and was challenged in so many ways in my traditional consulting arena.
As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
I am biased here. As a Kenyan, I love the spirit of entrepreneurship Nairobi and Kenyans have. Sure have there been days that frustrations on levels of professionalism have overwhelmed me – absolutely. But it gets counteracted by the amazing networks of Kenyans who truly work to lift one another up.
The legal system has been a challenge in that there is still a very strong culture of “opportunistic” behaviour in Kenya. I would hope that we could move to a culture where we raise one another up as we embark on this journey of driving entrepreneurship. The opportunities in Kenya are vast for helping grow and develop entrepreneurship and it is a matter of getting the word out about being ready, willing and able to help others rise.
What motivates you?
Working for something that is bigger than me. Anything that will create jobs on the continent and drive prosperity that truly belongs to us. So for example to be able to work on Lions Den where I could see the potential of growing an angel investing industry as well as a renewed entrepreneurial ecosystem excited me!
How do you define success?
Success to me isn’t some finite goal that you are trying to attain. It’s the wins along the way. It is celebrating the achievements that take you out of your comfort zone, it’s being able to smile at the way you handled failure, it’s through the people you meet along your journey that have so much to teach you.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My brother. He was born into privilege and knew that he would one-day work side by side with his father but he never let that deter him from being a serial entrepreneur and trying new and different things. He takes risks that I would baulk at and never lets any failures stop him from reaching his potential.
What is your favourite aspect of your job?
Meeting people. I truly believe that people are your best source of knowledge and I have learned some of the best and worst lessons from people. I love the interaction, I love learning from them.
What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Believe that everyone you meet provides you with an opportunity even if it seems that they are trying to tear you down.
Being honest about your own capabilities about what you can truly deliver.
Staying true to your moral fibre.
What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Take the time to cultivate your networks. All the assignments I have worked on have come through people who I have worked with over the last 20 years. I haven’t marketed the company in any way. Build strong collaborations with partners who can support you along the way.
Don’t look at money as the driver. Look at the assignment, the work – is it something you really want to do – because when you do it well and people recognize your value -they will pay!
What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?
It would have to be winning the bid to run a programme office for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. To be able to be a part of the engine that puts on the largest sporting event in the world was something spectacular.
What makes you happy?
Knowing that the work I do makes me responsible for my country and my continent. It’s our responsibility and honestly, I only learned that lesson a few years ago. Being able to work towards creating a future for the next generation of Kenyans – that is priceless!
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
TV, a great bottle of wine with mates, weekends away with my girlfriends, playing games with my crazy kids
Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
The world is changing in nanoseconds – 10 years is an extremely far horizon to be contemplating and truly I am much more focused on today. That’s all we have. It’s right now. So spending time contemplating the future takes away from today and am not being present in the moment – but if you pushed me to hazard a guess… Sipping a cocktail on a private beach with my family and friends!