ALICE MWAI – On scaling up the corporate ladder
Like most people, Alice Mwai’ s childhood aspirations changed often. However, it was in high school, and through the help of her economics teacher, that she realized where her strength
Like most people, Alice Mwai’ s childhood aspirations changed often. However, it was in high school, and through the help of her economics teacher, that she realized where her strength lay.
“Based on my A-level mock results, it was clear that if things didn’t change, I wasn’t going to make it to university yet that was my dream. My teacher reinforced in me that I was good in math, economics and, geography and so I concentrated on these. Within two terms, I had made a U-turn,” she reveals.
Besides her teacher, she also has her parents; both teachers, to thank because despite being a cheeky child, they ensured she did not go off the rails. As a result, discipline is one of her topmost principles in life is which she inculcates in everything she sets her mind to.
Alice is a big believer in personal development. “One of the things I learned early on was the need to find out what I am good at and then sharpen it. The next step after honing was to go ahead to market my skill,” she states. Seeking out mentors along her career path was also another key success factor.
These are things that she has practiced from her first job at an auditing firm, joining Resolution Insurance as a senior accountant to her role now as the leader of the insurance company.
“Over my career, I’ve spent a lot of time in self-assessment and capacity building. For instance, I recently finished my Advanced Management Program at Strathmore University. I believe in working smart not just working hard,” she says emphatically.
Her career trajectory is proof of this, “People get to such positions in different technical areas but you have to be good at what you do and as you go higher, you have to widen your scope of information and understand the other functions.
You don’t have to know them in detail because as a leader, you will rely on functional technical managers hence the need to be able to identify skilled professionals to work with,” she notes.
She has also learned to respond appropriately to criticism. “It’s important to allow people to challenge me and I listen to feedback from all my stakeholders. Of course, you can’t listen to everyone; with time, you learn to sift through so that you take into account that which has some truth to it.” Her mentors, her family and more notably her father, come in handy in such times.
A mother of two girls, Alice is keen on life-work balance, although she admits it is not easy given her busy schedule. One needs continuous work towards achieve it through balancing time for self, family and work. In light of this, she is also keen to impart her values in her two children without being overbearing, especially since one of them is an adult. “Motherhood has its joys and struggles but I try to make it purposeful for both the children and I. I’d like for them to not just concentrate on their education but also acquire life skills and a well-balanced life.”
In the same breath, she encourages young people to venture into insurance, as there are many opportunities considering the changing trends in the industry, increased use of technology and a more informed market.
Alice is grateful for her job that has enhanced her leadership skills and most importantly, changed lives within the organization as well as those who are beneficiaries of their services, which include personal accident, liability, general insurance business, workmen compensation, and medical covers.
Outside of her work, her other interests are playing board games with her girls and farming. She is planning to give back to the Kiangengi community in Mathira, Nyeri County in the near future and conquering the golf course.