Today on Pearls And Heels we have Maureen Shelmith.
“My name is Maureen Shelmith although my Mpesa name says otherwise. I am a mother to one pretty amazing cat plus many other homeless cats that I feed. I love music, especially classical Music. If anything I really enjoy jazz music in Kenya I write about my jazz and classical music explorations in Kenya. I am part of an eclectic, brilliant digital team called the Customer Experience, Marketing and Communication Department at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). It is such a mouthful I know. Protocol in the civil service is taken quite seriously hahaha! In simple terms, I am an online tax girl.”
- Describe your typical day.
I usually wake up at 5:15 AM and turn on the radio for some early morning motivation on Hope FM, I love Justus Owaka’s early morning devotion. At 6 am, I watch the news as they usually have newspaper reviews. It is essential for me to watch this being in the digital space, to know what people are saying about our brand. Then I hit the daily operations at around 8.30 AM, clearing any pending tasks from the previous evening. The best part of the day is home time, knowing I will go home to find a jovial cat waiting to be petted.
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Veterinary physician. I saw they have a cool job interacting with animals the whole day. The best part about being a vet is that you will change the life of an animal’s wellness and restore health to the animal. Sigh! I rerouted to another direction that I love as well.
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Well …Nothing really, ask me this when I am 45 years, I shall have a different perspective on life and issues pertaining to my career direction by then.
- What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Social media management isn’t purely about posting content on various social media platforms, it is a multifaceted role that requires one to have:
- Good communication skills – keeping in mind the theory of communication which are ensuring there is a message that is passed from one person to another and ensures there is feedback.
- Have a creative mind.
- Great customer service mindset- having the customer’s needs at heart.
5. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi life is fast-moving and dynamic. Yes, it is an advantage to be within the capital as most people within the capital are open-minded and are able to embrace new online trends. We have a high number of active online users, especially within Nairobi. Yes, Nairobi is open to what I do, as most organizations are moving towards an online customer-centric way of dealing with their customer as it is efficient and faster.
Nairobi is a great hub where a lot of opportunities sprout. Given the heterogeneity of the city’s cultural base, anyone is able to target a certain segment of people better when they are in Nairobi, as opposed to being in a small town where diversity is quite rare. As a marketer, the cosmopolitan nature of Nairobi helps us understand the various likes of our customers and allows us to provide better products and services to them.
In Nairobi, there are also great opportunities for enjoying live music sets, ballet and the symphony which enable me to personally generate content for my blog.
The challenge of working in Nairobi has to be the crazy traffic and the insane matatus that hike fares whenever they want to. Despite the road networks being urbanised, Nairobi lacks a strict governing body to handle the traffic menace. We end up using a lot of fare on our roads to get to business meetings and a lot of time wasted in the traffic.
- What motivates you?
This will be funny. I am usually motivated to go home when I have a new treat for Gingy (That’s my cat) that I know he will appreciate. But really, working efficiently to ensure that I will have a satisfied customer who will come back and say, “Thank you for the excellent service.” I will be good to go for a week or so.
- How do you define success?
I may not have a definitive answer, Success to me would be mapping out a plan that is directed towards a specific goal, and finding avenues to work around the detours that may come your way.
- Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My grandmother. She was able to raise all her children and even when my mother passed on, Cucu continued being a mother in my life. She is resilient despite her old age, and tough and protects what she calls her own and she holds close to the people she loves.
- What is your favourite aspect of your job?
When we are physically on the ground like during a sensitization forum. It is interesting to meet people we interact with online. At times it is quite hilarious since the most arrogant people online end up being the quietest in a setup that doesn’t entail any online engagement.
- What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
- Seize every opportunity – it is said time waits for no man. Never stress over lost opportunities of yesterday, grab every new opportunity that presents itself.
- Know what you want – have clarity about what you want and work towards achieving it.
- Know when to quit – Not so many people say this, but if you are not growing and you have explored all options, draw the line and take the leap of faith and call it quits. It may be time to start on a new journey.
- What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
- Be open-minded to learn new things as the digital space is quite versatile and ever-changing.
- Flexibility, be willing to work beyond the stipulated working hours. A crisis can arise at any given moment that will require your utmost attention.
- Never be too emotional at work, you will deal with various characters online, some will be nice but most of the time, they will be mean. Learn to take their criticism positively and strategize on how you can work effectively to improve the image of your brand.
- What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?
Being part of the team that was involved with engaging with taxpayers online during the customer service week, we had our own campaign to appreciate taxpayers for being compliant. KRA was able to scoop the most creative concept during the Customer Service Week Innovation Awards which was facilitated by ICS Kenya in the month of October 2016.
- What makes you happy?
Chocolate, Cat purrs, Kheer and Burfy (Indian desserts) and most of all Cake.
- What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I am a blogger on jazzsymphonic.com, I blog about classical and Jazz music in Kenya. I love attending Music concerts, especially live gigs within the city, which influence my thought process on what should go down on my blog. I love reviewing such events.
- Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
I see myself having a well-established website where I am able to cover more of the music passions that I have. I hope it will be a to-go site in terms of anything musical in the country, especially on music that is not a mass-market type of music.
You can find Maureen on Twitter @MaureenShelmith. You can also find her on Instagram at @maureenshelmith. Also, check out her site www.jazzsymphonic.com.
Pearls And Heels: Irene Wachira