We live in an era of instant gratification and hence few people are willing to work as volunteers while they look for a paying job. With the shaky financial times we are experiencing today, many companies have frozen employment. Thus volunteerism seems like a viable option even as you look for a paid for job. And that is exactly what Esther Njeri, a public relations officer at Gakuyo Real Estate Company, did to build her curriculum vitae. She had a sit down with LILY RONOH.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Esther Njeri Mwangi. I am 25 years old and the last born in a family of five. I was born and bred in Lodwar. Growing up in Lodwar taught me that I had to push for what I want. I understood from an early age that I was fighting for limited opportunities with people from developed places such as Nairobi and if I was to have any chance in life, then I had to work twice as hard.
What did you study in university?
I studied Journalism and PR at the United States International University (USIU). I am currently doing a Masters in development communication at Daystar University.
What do you do at Gakuyo Real Estate Company?
I am the public relations and communications officer for the company.
You hold an envious position in your company. How did you get there?
Just before I completed my undergraduate studies, I worked on a project with Chromatic Pictures Africa. While there, I learnt to love work and make it as fun as possible. I did my internship in Brazil where I was teaching children about the environment. I went to Brazil through a students’ organisation I was a member of. Teaching about the environment enabled me to appreciate the environment. When I came back home, all I wanted to do was concentrate on the environment. That is when United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) came calling and offered me a position as a volunteer and I jumped on it.
The contract ended and I went back to school for my Masters. Before long, UNEP called me again to volunteer as a communication assistant. I then moved to Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) still volunteering in the communications department. I took a break to concentrate more on my studies and after completing the coursework embarked on job hunting. I applied for a job at Gakuyo Real Estate Company and after a rigorous interviews clinched the job. Despite my age, I had the experience that was needed.
What does your work involve?
My work has everything to do with media. I deal with advertising and communications. Basically, whatever goes out about the company has to pass through me. I also introduced expos so as to tap into new markets.
Take us through your normal day
I wake up at 5:00 am and work out for about 45 minutes. I then prepare for work as I am supposed to report by eight. The first thing I do is to respond to all emails and make follow-ups on clients. After that, I sit down for meetings starting with the social media team where we plan for the day. I also meet with the media people, advertisers or people who want to partner with us. My day usually ends at 5:30 pm but I frequently stay behind to plan for the next day.
Who is your mentor?
My dad. He has demonstrated that if you work diligently for something, then you are assured of success.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction in your job?
It has enabled me to unearth the marketer in me; someone I didn’t know existed before. I just love the way I can convince someone in the diaspora to buy land and just like that, in a sentence or two, the deal is closed.
Yes, there are challenges. The first being looked down upon because of my age and secondly being a woman in a male dominated field. A client would walk in and insist they want to talk to the communications executive and when I tell them I am here, they ask if there is anyone else they could speak to. As such, I am forced to prove every single day that I know the ropes of this industry.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
The department I am heading currently is new and thus I look forward to developing it and the people who work with me. I want to build a strong team that would take Gakuyo Real Estate Company to greater heights. In future, I would want to start my own consultancy firm.
Mine is to any young woman below the age of thirty and in leadership position; push beyond the walls. If they say you can’t, push till you can. It’s not up to them to believe in you, it’s for you to make them believe in you.
Published in September 2015