Today on Pearls and Heels we feature Irene Wachira Mwangi. Irene Wachira is an Account Manager at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (Ogilvy PR) which is a global, multi-disciplinary communications leader operating in more than 80 markets. Her passion lies in media relations, event management as well as developing and implementing communication strategies.
Describe your typical day?
My day starts at 5 am. I get up, have a quick shower before I leave the house I ensure I get to see my son who wakes up at 6:00 am to prepare for school. When I get to the office I spend my first 1 hour replying to emails and reading the newspapers. I don’t ever have a typical day as there are times I end up going directly to my client’s meetings or events. During the day I am either in the office or at a client’s meeting or event. I work closely with the media and there are times I set up lunch/evening meetings depending on their preferred time.
My work ends at 5 PM if am not too busy. I am fortunate to work in an office that advocates for healthy living and provides us with free Yoga lessons. I try my best to attend the yoga classes on Monday from 1 – 2 pm and Thursday’s at 5.30 – 6.30 pm, which actually helps me wind down the day.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I am still waiting to grow up…But seriously I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I really didn’t enjoy school very much. However, I loved to participate in the extra curriculum activities, drama and choir. I am a very social person it was inevitable that I landed in the PR industry.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I feel very blessed that my reality has been even better than I could have ever dreamt. I can honestly say I have absolutely loved my journey with all its ups and downs and challenges. It’s been a fascinating life and continues to unfold in ways one cannot imagine.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
PR is obviously very relationship based so clearly people skills is important.
Writing is critical and being able to remain calm in very stressful situations is a must.
Creativity to generate solutions to problems, to see opportunities where others see nothing, to innovate.
As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
I do not regret coming back to work in Nairobi. Working in a city like Nairobi really keeps you on your feet. Nairobi is fascinating, with its diverse people, constantly growing skyscrapers, and unpredictable environment. It is definitely more challenging to get certain things done fast and efficiently, however, it’s not impossible. Our work isn’t confined to Nairobi or indeed to Kenya. Ogilvy is global we work right across the World. It’s an exciting time for the communications industry, indeed Africa is the new Africa frontier. Right across the continent more and more organizations and individuals are seeing the benefit of ensuring the right person tells their story.
My greatest challenge is work-life balance. Due to the nature of the job I am required to be flexible and ready to work overtime. But there are many opportunities to network. I have met all sorts of people in different career paths through PR.
6. What motivates you?
Having long conversations with passionate and intelligent people. I love interacting with people who enjoy what they do and can talk about their job for hours. Passion is everything in what we do.
7. How do you define success?
Success to me is waking up knowing that I have achieved all that I have set to do. Positively impacting other people’s lives in the process and leaving a legacy for future generations.
8. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My mother. She is a successful woman in her own right and has ventured into employment/self-employment sectors to earn a living. She has been very supportive of my career in many ways including giving me guidance, moral support and the education to propel me to where I am. I am amazed at her age she is currently pursuing an international degree that just shows you how focused and driven she is. She has made me realize it is never too late to make change your life.
9.What is your favourite aspect of your job?
I tend to learn as much as I can about my clients even random facts. The overriding factor to being successful is character and ensuring we can be a trusted partner to our clients which means we often walk the extra mile to support our clients.
10. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Believe that everyone you meet provides you with an opportunity am a firm believer of networking. Being honest about your own capabilities about what you can truly deliver.
11. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
To be patient and calm when there is a crisis.
12. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?
When my campaigns are a success and I receive good feedback from client.
13. What makes you happy?
Definitely my family. My husband James Mwangi is my rock and my 4 year old son he inspires me to be a great mum which I believe is one of the greatest achievements in my life.
Spending time with my family and friends makes me feel happy and relaxed knowing that I have their support and love.
14. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I make time for my family, I cook for them especially on Sundays after church. Sometimes we go out for family fun dates. I love travelling out of town, I embrace it wholly and we do this often with my husband. We also take drives out of town for an adventure.
I love dancing and I try to at least do this with my girlfriends when we meet for an evening night out. My other interests include reading, watching movies and listening to good music (Soul) am old school.
15. Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
I will be doing what I do now. I love my career perhaps run my own PR firm God willing.
If you would like to interact with Irene you can find her on LinkedIn.