Joyce Kaduki
Joyce Kaduki

TABITHA ONYINGE speaks with Joyce Kaduki, a courageous woman who is abandoning a secure life of employment to take an uncertain plunge coaching and training people to become leaders as a means to becoming the best they can be.

Are leaders born or made? I believe nearly all of us have heard or debated this question. Whichever side we fall in, and whether or not yours or mine is the perfect answer is immaterial. What may interest you, the one thing that caused me to pry further, is the passion one woman has for leadership development that she is just about to drop everything in pursuit of her dream.

When I ask how far she intends to go with her hobby, Joyce Kaduki goes poetic. “Mark Twain said,” she says authoritatively, taking a pause for effect, “So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” “I am taking a bold step. I am sailing away from the safe harbour that has been my life in employment. I hope to coach, train and speak to people in their individual capacities and within organisations, to help them become all that they can become and realise great success,” she says.

Joyce obtained a degree in Commerce at the University of Nairobi after which she pursued a Certified Public Accountant, Kenya (CPA [K]) certification. She also has an MBA in Strategic Management and is currently working as a finance and administration manager for an organisation that provides professional consulting services. “While pursuing a career along business lines, I developed an interest in leadership. I continuously look for opportunities to learn and grow as a leader. By divine providence, I got an opportunity to not only develop myself, but also get a John Maxwell International certification as a coach, speaker and teacher of individuals and organisations to help them develop and achieve personal and business success,” she discloses.

The John Maxwell Team is a worldwide group of coaches, speakers and teachers trained and certified by the celebrated leader to uplift others with leadership potential. “This has helped me develop skills to work with people individually, in groups, and through workshops and seminars,” Joyce shares.  She also has access to the John Maxwell Online University for her own continued leadership development. “This is a privilege I don’t take lightly. I hope to use it to add value in the lives of others. I have grown in many aspects of my life – at home, work and in social circles – and I want to pass it on to others, as my life is not all about me. I am a river, not a reservoir,” Joyce says in the leadership spirit of sharing.

As she goes into private practice, Joyce knows that passion has to be complemented by earnings.“Spending time doing what my heart loves will certainly make me take off. Nevertheless, I am under no illusion that it will be an instant success – I am aware it might not take off immediately. I have an open mind, and with my trust in God, I believe I’ll somehow earn returns. I’ve been in employment since leaving university and this is certainly an uncertain plunge,” she says, revealing very little fear.

“Everything rises and falls on leadership,” Joyce says, quoting John Maxwell. In church, corporate circles or in the government, great leadership is unmistakable and evidently makes a difference,” she adds. And hinting at the egg-chicken debate on leadership, Joyce states that leadership is not a preserve of a few. “Anyone can learn to be a good or great leader if they have the interest and are willing to pay the price to become one. I am a living testimony,” her last assertion arrests my attention, and I seek elaboration. “Coming from a point where leadership was almost an alien concept, because of interest and effort, I have grown to a point where I am able to walk alongside other people to aid them in their personal and professional leadership growth. Leadership is a process so you never arrive; I’m still growing,” she states.

Away from her leadership passion, who is Joyce? “I’m very many things: First and foremost, I’m a Christian. My faith in God is central in who I am in life.” Born over 40 years ago in central Kenya to teacher-parents, Joyce was one of three sisters and six brothers. Hard work was the buzzword in the family. “There was no ‘just getting by’ or lazing around.” It is no wonder that Joyce excelled in her studies and joined Alliance and Mary Hills Girls’ High Schools for ‘O’ and ‘A’ level education respectively. She later undertook her undergraduate and master’s studies at the University of Nairobi (UoN).

“My dreams have metamorphosed with the different seasons of my life. I have, at different times, dreamt of becoming a teacher, housewife, professor, an accountant and a CEO. The bottom line is that I have a quietly ambitious nature, which I know sounds like an oxymoron,” says Joyce. She adds that hers are big dreams, including being the person to help multiply leaders in the African region and beyond. She says: “I am a leader, an achiever, a developer, and life-long learner. Somewhere along the line, I learned to get up when I fail, dust myself off and keep going.” On drive, Joyce believes there is no option when it comes to accepting one’s lot in life. “You determine what you want and go for it; no matter how hard or long it takes to make noticeable progress, you just keep going. You are your own best friend or worst enemy when it comes to developing yourself,” she states.

Living by her early life mantra of no lazing about, Joyce’s life has been packed with self-development. Top on that list has been reading books and articles on personal growth. And when she discovered the need to develop her public speaking skills, Toastmasters International provided the answer. Joyce joined the not-for-profit communication and leadership development association at the beginning of 2008 and has grown a lot. “I’m able to speak easily in public. I have learnt how to be a more effective communicator, mentor and facilitator,” she talks modestly of her growth. Actually, unknown to her, I have been told that Joyce is not only a leader at the association, but also one of the inspirations who has won many awards for her personal growth, as well as inspiring speeches.

When one has a wealth of knowledge such as what Joyce has, she has to get avenues to share it. Joyce is also a budding writer, another interest she developed and has cultivated carefully. She is currently undertaking a writing course by correspondence. “Writing is a good way of expressing myself. I hope to spend more time writing on professional matters in the coming weeks and months. I hope to publish books on personal growth,” she reveals.

Joyce has been married to Ken Kaduki, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, for almost 17 years. “Ken is my biggest supporter and accountability partner, and sometimes my biggest critique, especially if I’m not doing things right,” she discloses. The couple has a 12-and-a-half-year-old son, Ndeda, and a six-year-old daughter, Waigumo. They like to read, learn and grow with their children. “We make an unassuming but closely-knit family. I am who I am because of my family,” Joyce states.

The direction her life is taking works perfectly for Joyce who desires a flexible work schedule that allows her to spend more time with family and friends, “doing things that will leave a clear and positive footprint.” Some of these things include re-cultivating her interest in cooking special family meals.

Asked what inspires her, Joyce’s answer is, “I could write a book on this! My belief that God put me in this world for a special purpose that only I can accomplish inspires me a lot. Knowing that it is up to me to nurture what God has put in me and to do everything that I can to fulfil this purpose is simply awesome. While I’m at it, I might as well have fun and give it my best!” she says. She is also inspired by her family, as well as men and women who have accomplished great things, “people like Steve Jobs and Wangari Maathai, whose recent passing on make their memories poignant, and my long-distance mentor, John C. Maxwell, an ordinary man who has extra-ordinary achievements and lives an extra-ordinary life.”

Joyce’s family deliberately didn’t own a television set until 2010. “We did this to savour as much of our time together. Recently, our children started visiting neighbours to watch TV so we bought one just to monitor what they were watching. Even now, TV is still not central in our lives. We do more reading and talking,” Joyce says with a little laughter.

At the time of the interview, Joyce was reading Mark Batterson’s ‘In a pit with a lion on a snowy day’, a book about how to survive and thrive when opportunity roars. Joycewalks at Jeffery’s Club once a week, and does regular in-door exercises. “I do it for fitness and to reflect. I’m blessed with good health and body. I don’t worry about weight, but I have to be proactive to keep my health where the Lord has pitched it, and not to wait till I’m sick to start acting,” she concludes.

Published in the January 2012 issue of Parents Magazine