Every company has a dream of making it big but they may not know how to do it. This is where consultants like Mwaniki Kagwanji come in, he helps companies develop, grow and thrive. Kagwanja Mwaniki describes himself as an entrepreneur, a proud father, a loving husband, a devout Christian and a pun enthusiast. He is the Chief Executive Officer of CKay group. CKay Group is a business consultancy for startups, small and medium level companies. In his own words, he says that he and his firm work tirelessly to ensure your company has a steady growth curve, and you stay ahead of the competition. He ensures this is possible by handling your projects, creating a marketing strategy for your company, managing your communication both within and without the organization and myriad other services. In addition, Mwaniki has a background in Cyber Security and is passionate about promoting online safety for children. He gives free talks on the subject of Child Online Protection to parents and children in learning institutions.
Here’s an interview I did with Mwaniki.
Run me through your typical day
I wake up; I work, I run a few errands, I sleep and repeat. But on a serious note, I wake up at 5 am. By some miracle my wife is always out of bed, preparing breakfast or washing Kiri (Kiri is the nickname given to his son by a mutual friend) or doing something else constructive. As a matter of fact, you should be interviewing her; she is a real hero. After I’ve had my morning devotion, I take a quick shower followed by breakfast. After that, I kiss my wife and son goodbye and leave for the office.
My work varies on a day to day basis, one day I’m glued to my desk running analysis, another day I’m running up and down meeting up with clients.
Is this what you wanted to do when you were young?
I knew there would be this question. No, when I was younger, I wanted to be do-it-all Johnny, I fit into most shapes. However, as I looked through my options, I decided to study Bachelor of Business and Information Technology (BBIT). I worked for a few companies over the years, but I always knew I could do more, thus, three years ago, I quit my job and started CKay Group.
I can’t say it has been an easy three years, the road has been marred with challenges, but the fact that I’m here is a testament that there’s still a place for persistence in business.
If you had a chance to go back and start again in your career, what would you change?
If I had the ability to time travel, I wouldn’t go back to my career; I would probably start the quail business long before it was a hit. As far as my career is concerned, I have no regrets. The mistakes that I’ve made are the same ones that have allowed me to be where I am today.
What skills would you say have propelled you to where you are today?
Persistence. I always tell people you have to push until it becomes a part of your livelihood. You need to be resilient to succeed in any field.
Opportunist. They say opportunity never knocks twice, but even when it does knock on your door, it is usually a very subtle knock. You need to jump on an opportunity as first as you can.
There are a lot more skills that you need to succeed, but if we segue to them, we shall have a week’s long interview.
How conducive is Nairobi as a working environment?
That’s a tough one to answer. It is certainly not easy, but the fact that businesses are being opened on a daily basis and multinational brands are setting shop here, then that means it’s not impossible either.
However, as I key into our line of work, you realize that we are not exactly a bread and butter kind of business, we’re more like eggs and sauce. People can do without us, hence, explaining to a client why they need your services can at times prove challenging. The situation is, however, getting better, especially with the penetration of technology.
What motivates you?
Tomorrow. I want to ensure that there is a better tomorrow for my son and all of the next generation. Before I sign a contract with a client, I have to ask myself, ‘how does this project better the world?’ Though I would be lying if I said I hadn’t taken a couple of projects solely for the money.
What is success to you?
For me, success is knowing that I have fulfilled my goals for the day and that I can go home to my loving wife and son and be able to hold up my smile diligently.
Who inspires you?
My wife, I still don’t know how she manages to be a wife, a mother and a successful businesswoman. I want to be her when I grow up.
What do you love most about what you do?
Startups. There is nothing that gets me going like seeing a company develop from a solitary idea. I love seeing the idea morph into a business and the company into the brand.
What must you have to attain success?
Again, I could give all the smart answers and throw in a little bit of jargon mixed with humour. But the bottom line is, the most important element of success is God. The Bible says that through Him all things were made; without Him, nothing was made that has been made (John 1:3).
What advice do you have for someone starting off in the same career?
Delight in the small wins. Many are times when we think of starting a business, and we have the grand picture, we don’t see the in between. So, when the rubber meets the road, you realize the odds are stacked against you. That is why you need to delight in every win, no matter how small, these small victories are what turn the wheels to the big wins.
What was the most significant moment of your career?
Starting. I had always known I would start my own company, but I had too many fears, that I just toyed around with the idea. But when I had had enough, I decided to quit my job and start CKay group. Every other high moment can be traced back to that single moment when I decided to start.
What makes you happy?
My family is the chief derivative of my happiness. My wife and my son who I long to spend more time with. My mother who has long encouraged me, and she has never given up on me, even when I had given up hope, she still believed in me. Also, my siblings who have offered me great support and resource especially in the beginning.
What are your hobbies?
I love reading. I read biographies, autobiographies, articles, magazines. If it has been written, I can read it.
I also love playing video games, or maybe I should say video game since it’s only one.
Other than that, I love spending time with my family.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Ten years older for sure. I see the business growing to a place where we can afford to have a workforce in the hundreds. I also want to help other companies that are in the ideation process, more specifically, to guide them and fast-track their goals.