, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – Gina Din Kariuki is the founder and the chairperson of Gina Din Corporate Communications (GDCC), which will be turning ‘Sweet 16’ in October this year.
The 51-year-old Public Relations guru is popular in the social and corporate circles and her elegance, beauty and dashing style have always captured my attention every time we meet.
When I booked an interview with her at GDCC office, located in Lavington, Nairobi, my perception about her persona turned out to be very different from what I discovered.
She has this official face she wears mostly in corporate functions but was very friendly and charming during my 30 minutes interview. They say, you don’t judge a book by its cover.
Gina’s triumph in the PR industry did not just happen. Apart from her entrepreneurial spirit, which she says was greatly nurtured by her parents, commitment, perseverance, passion and prayer has been like the engine to elevating her company to the current heights.
“I started my business with a lot of faith and prayer. It has been like a natural progression for me. Barclays Bank was my first account and I thank God because they helped me pay my initial bills. I had zero capital. I had worked at the bank for 14 years as the Head of Corporate Affairs and had reached to the very top at the bank. I was not ready to go beyond, because I am not a banker. I did not want to become the Managing Director. No. I really needed to work for myself. I needed to create something.
“All human beings are made with a DNA to create. Whether we have money or not. And so, I brought forth Gina Din Corporate Communications in 1997. I had no idea it will grow and be the brand it has become now. I started with five employees and my clients would be around two to three or even zero, for many months. But I did not give up. At some point I felt like I had made a wrong choice to leave my formal employment.
“Sometimes, reality is more than your dreams. That is what has happened to me.”
As we went on my clients would later increase to over 35. Ok; there are good and bad times for an entrepreneur. So the number of clients may not be stagnant. It may even come down to 10. But that’s business.
We started with Safaricom when they came to Kenya. I was right there when they got their license, before they even had an office. I feel good when I see the wonderful work they are doing today. It’s like my ‘baby’. Part of what I have done.
Kenya Airways (KQ) is another one. We handled the crisis communication part of the Douala plane crash (May 5, 2007). It taught me a lot on how to consult on crisis management.” She says, full of zeal.
Gina Din’s, memorable moments in her carrier, she says, was spearheading the Kenyans for Kenya campaign which was started in July 2011. She is the Kenya Red Cross goodwill ambassador. The historic initiative was in response to famine and deaths from starving Kenyans in Turkana. Kenyans were mobilized to redound to the campaign. Over Sh700 million was raised.
“It was the greatest feeling ever. We wanted to turn the pastoralists into farmers. We wanted to stop the whole idea of relief food. We built dams and drilled boreholes. I was so proud to be Kenyan,” she says with watery eyes.
GDCC has just entered into a partnership with Weber Shandwick one of the world’s leading public relations firms. She says her dream is to see the company serve many firms in the continent. ‘Have the African feel’, as she puts it.
The erudite Gina Din Kariuki was born and brought up in Nanyuki. “I love Nanyuki and I go back from time to time.”
She is the last born in a family of four sisters. Her parents were in the hotel industry and she tried her best to learn some basic entrepreneurship skills from them, since she was not among the brightest students in class.
“I was what you would call a thick student. I would range between grades C and D in school. But I believed I was not stupid. I worked hard until I got my degree at the London School of Journalism. And when I came back from London, in 1985, I landed my first job at Barclays. Hard work and short trainings from time to time while at work, made me gain a lot of skills.”