What were you doing at 21?
I was in university. Previously, after I completed Form Six, I got a job as an untrained teacher at a boys’ school. Because of my adherence to discipline, the students went on strike. I was given more responsibilities and later transferred to a different location to start a new school.
Which one of your personal attributes do you owe your success to?
My determination. Nothing puts me down. Life to me is a steeplechase, I don’t expect it to be smooth. I also pray a lot, and I have seen God answer my prayers directly.
I also have staying power and I am very persistent. For instance, I worked on my MBA when I was working as a CEO in the private sector. I tried to convince the board that I needed some time to work on it, but were initially reluctant to give support me. After the first two semesters, they came to me, saying that they could see its value from the company’s performance. They couldn’t stop me.
What advice would you give a young person who looks up to you?
You can be a mother and wife and still be the best professional that you would want to be. You have to work hard to succeed.
Any hidden talents?
If I wasn’t working with government, I would perhaps be a counsellor. I often find girls who are in difficult situations coming to me for comfort. There is that which they see in me. I lost my father, sister and some other family members in quick succession. This not only broke me, but gave me inner strength.
I have several mentors, depending on what I’m focusing on. I started admiring Zipporah Kittony when I was very young in my career. Ever since, I have been watching her deliberate commitment to women rights issues, her courage and the value that she gives to family. In my career, I admired the late Silas Ita who was in the 9th parliament. Silas was my boss in my first job and he shaped a lot of who I am today. He trusted me with responsibility. Another one is David Nalwa, a former PS. He was very committed to public service and shaped the East African Community. Dr Mukhisa Kituyi has also influenced me a lot in public policy.
My elder sister is my good friend and we seem to be equals in a lot of ways. She is a bit more conscious and has taught me to be more patient. At the family level, she has influenced me a lot.
In five words; your secrets to success?
• Dream (vision)
• Hard work
The most interesting book you have read so far?
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. She writes: ‘It won’t happen for free. You must work for it. You must lean in (be present) in order to be counted.’
The Speed of Trust by Covey Junior is another interesting read that outlines the habits of highly successful people. Its main message is that if you invest in trust and build it over time, the regards are great. He asks people in leadership to deposit into their trust account, since losing trust is very expensive.