Meet Margaret Kinyanjui, a wife and a mother of four grown up children. She is the principal of the College of Human Resource Management (CHRM), the training affiliate of International Human Resources Management body (IHRM), which is the professional body of human resource (HR) practitioners. Margaret likes to think of herself as a very positive individual, who gives her all in what she embarks on.
How did you end up working for a training company?
I actually never actively went out looking for a job at IHRM. I did my HR diploma studies at IHRM and since I was in between jobs, I was requested by the then executive director to help manage the college, which was still in its infancy — basically to set up systems. This was a new field but I loved it and opted to stay. And as they say, the rest is history. I started as an assistant training coordinator, then programmes coordinator before ascending to my current position as the college principal.
What does your role as director and principal entail?
I am responsible for the overall strategic and policy direction of the college as well as the administration and management, ensuring that we have a conducive environment for the students and the faculty. I also sit in the college board.
How would you describe the kind of person you are?
I am outgoing and with a positive outlook to life. I avoid by all means negative people (especially those “woyiee type” — always whining about something and those who carry around feelings of entitlement).
You are a trainer; tell us your story with education
I am a certified trainer and, although I head a training institution, I have left it to the experts in Training and Education to handle the programmes we offer at the college in class. I preferred to oversee the management and administration of the college for this gives me a better feel of what needs to be done to move the college forward.
How long have you held your position?
I was appointed the principal of IHRM College, reporting to the executive director at the time, in 2010. The name of the college changed to CHRM in 2014 to differentiate it from IHRM, the professional body for HR professionals, and I now report to the board.
What were you doing before you took up the position you now hold?
I was the HR and Administration Manager for a South African Marketing Firm which had operations in the East African region.
What advice can you give to women in managerial positions and those hoping to climb the corporate ladder?
For those in managerial positions — empower those below you as it creates opportunities for you to climb higher. For those aspiring to climb the corporate ladder; being fully equipped both academically and professionally in your area of specialisation helps … it gives you self-confidence. Unfortunately, women are in most cases forced to do twice as much to be noticed — knowing your strength certainly helps.
Where do you want your organisation to be in the next five to 10 years?
We are currently working on a transitional plan towards moving the college to a university. As a board, we are cognisant of the many challenges that most universities, and especially private ones, are currently facing, and are working on ensuring that we are better prepared, and to be fully compliant to suit the Commission of University Education (CUE) requirements.
What do you enjoy most about working for CHRM?
To be honest, working at CHRM is more than a job to me. CHRM is a very strong brand in the HR profession. Let’s just say that I have a personal relationship with almost every other HR professional in this country.
With your busy schedule, do you find time to be with your spouse and children; to cook or enjoy an activity together?
Oh yes, I do. We purposed to have all our children in day schools — both in lower and senior schools, and I do the morning school drop-off, which is a great time to chat and get to know my children more. We also do Sunday lunches or a dinner every so often. During school holidays once or twice a year, we may do a Coast holiday (Diani, of course!) or go on a road trip. We recently did Naivasha-Nakuru-Bogoria-Kabarnet-Eldoret-Kisumu-Bomet-Narok and back to Nairobi route before Christmas.
What drives you?
When the history of the human resource management profession in Kenya is written, I want my name to be there.
Who are the three women you admire most?
My mother — how she was able to bring up eight children (five girls and three boys) in Ziwani (Nairobi) — I will never know! This is an area that was known for crime and drugs and the fact that by the Grace of God we all came through unscathed, is no mean feat!
Lizzie Wanyoike of Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBs) who got me my first job. Prof Wangari Maathai for her sheer determination, courage and conviction of what she believed in and how she went on fearlessly to attain it. I have read and re-read her book Unbowed.
What are the must-have items in your handbag?
My phone, a pen and a notebook.
What is your dream vacation destination?
It has to be a coastal destination — I just love the beach — sun, sand and water does it for me! I especially love Diani in the South Coast. I have a very strong connection to those endless white beaches and the blue.
How do you unwind?
I like to think that I have a big sense of humour — so I love watching comedies and laugh myself to tears. When I can, an afternoon nap over the weekend is a must. I also enjoy listening to music — especially local gospel and bongo music.
What achievements are you most proud of?
The Premier Mentorship and Internship programme that we launched in November 2018 with the help of Prof P.L.O Lumumba, a 10-day programme to prepare our graduates, and also from other learning institutions, for the job market.
We link them up with our alumni as mentors and place them in various organisations that we will be working with for a three-month internship opportunity. Our first group of 20 students has already started the internship.
My four children are now all grown up. What more could a mother wish for?
I am proud of CHRM’s growth — from two programmes when I joined (which were being offered only in the evenings), we now have more than 10 different HR and business related academic and professional courses at different levels offered in six different attendance options, which include a sunrise class option starting at 6.30am to 8.30am.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In less than five years, I want to be away from the hustle and bustle of an 8-5 job and get more involved in coaching, especially young people — there is so much that needs to be done to help this group of people make the right life choices.