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4 young Kenyan business leaders share their secrets to success

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Rising Stars winners
Rising Stars winners

What sets exceptional, fast-rising and results-driven young professionals apart? Is it the schools they attended? Far-reaching networks? Or is there a particular path they followed to scale the rungs of their respective careers?

This is what we set to find out.

We talked to four of the 10 winners – all under 40 years old – of the CFC Stanbic Bank Rising Star awards that recognize emerging leaders in 10 different sectors, ranging from banking and finance to ICT to tourism and hospitality. The judges pick individuals who demonstrate vision, creativity, motivation, collaboration, ethics, commitment, and leadership qualities.

In our quest to find the secrets to success, we asked them the same four questions. Here’s what these rising career leaders had to say.

What does your typical work day look like?

Wilson Obwatinya, Operations Manager, Real People
Winner: Banking & Financial Services

My day starts at 4:30 a.m. I have made it a habit to be in the office early, by 5:30 a.m. at the latest. This gives me the opportunity to read and respond to emails and analyze my business. Doing this gives me an upper hand in handling my team, as I have knowledge and understanding of what is happening. Early morning provides the opportunity to review the previous day, plan, and strategize. When you plan well and communicate those plans to your people in a timely manner, it’s possible to meet your targets.

Emily Thaara Njuki, Founder, Smart Solutions Africa
Winner: Entrepreneur

My day starts at 5 a.m. by checking emails and reading the previous day’s reports. By 8 a.m., I do public service as a County Minister of Youth and Sports (Embu County). In the Ministry of Youth and Sports, every day is different, but it usually entails going to meetings with the department staff, attending county cabinet meetings, meeting with investors, mentoring youths, launching sports activities, and so forth.

Jeremiah Mutisya, CEO, Basecamp Explorer Kenya
Winner: Hospitality & Tourism

On a typical day, after a refreshing morning workout, I am in the office by 7:30 a.m. at the latest. I take 30 minutes to read news (online, print, and social media), catch up with the latest business developments, and respond to urgent emails. At 8 a.m., or there about, I plan for the day, check pending tasks from previous days/weeks, and set must-do tasks for that day. Usually, I give priority to one or two of the departments for half of my morning and sit with them, get updates and reports, and resolve any issues. In the service industry, it is always a moving world, you keep talking and taking action. In short, my daily work involves linking 1 to 2, making sure there is timely information sharing, and shouldering key decisions in the organization.

Daniel Njuguna, Operational Excellence Lead, East African Breweries
Winner: Manufacturing, Retail & FMCG

My typical day starts at 7:00 a.m. and usually ends at 6:00 p.m. Normally, I spend half an hour planning for the day, but usually I’ve already started as I close up the previous day. Planning is of the essence because it determines how successful I will be in completing my tasks. I ascribe to quality as opposed to quantity of output. Great outcomes can only be achieved when planning and preparations are top notch. At the end of the day, I spend the 6:00 p.m. hour working out and training on our football pitch.

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