Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Muthoni, Class of 2011
“My experience at Strathmore was enriching for me because of the values they taught us. It was also quite short term in my opinion; time really does fly. I cannot forget their rules and regulations that made me quite cautious with my conduct at the school in terms of dress code and class attendance, however it really prepared me for the work force.
My best memory in university was the friendships I forged there. The time we spent together in group discussions, joining clubs and planning night outs were amazing. My close friends and I have remained solid for over ten-years and we are still close with one another to-date. I vividly remember the numerous lunches we had at Siwaka and how we would all storm there for their delicious chapatis. Today, we have a Whatsapp group for class of 2011 where we share life updates with each other, job opportunities and discuss ongoing events around us.
I loved the lecturers! We had the opportunity to learn from people who had good industry and teaching experience. The fact that they drew their lessons from their corporate life made the content they delivered relatable. Surprisingly, the courses that were not tied to the Bachelor of Commerce classes were the ones I enjoyed the most; I especially loved philosophy classes. Discussions on scholars such as Aristotle and Plato, having a gist on how they viewed life and developing a mindset of questioning things was very useful in terms of prepping us for life out here.
Aside from my studies, I participated in extra-curricular activities; I was part of the Strathmore Business Club where I later became the president. I was also a member of the Community Outreach Program. Lastly, I was the Vice President of the 2nd Student Council in my final year. Being part of these activities helped me develop my leadership skills, self-confidence, and networking with others.
The standards that Strathmore set had an impact on my life in the work environment. They taught me that you cannot do things half-heartedly if you want to excel; this became part of my work ethic in terms of self-initiative and performing well. Moreover, their emphasis on integrity and doing the right thing are qualities I carry with me to-date.
If I were to advise any student about to pursue BCOM, I would urge them to question themselves on their reason for making that choice; to have a clear mind as it will help them in deciding the field you would like to specialize in. Furthermore, I would tell them to not only focus their attention on coursework but also on other aspects in their life; to participate in extra-curricular activities and develop other skills that can make them stand out of the crowd.
When I completed my education at Strathmore, I was interested in working for the big four (Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, Ernst & Young). I sent applications to them and got an offer from one of them. At the time, I was doing my internship at Telkom Kenya when I received a call from Strathmore; the career services department sent over my CV to General Electric (GE). That’s how I began my career in business development there. Students at SU have a unique opportunity in the form of access to the job market through the placement office, and this is something more of them should make use of. I later specialized in accounting; this is when I became more intentional about the jobs I sought.
Working at GE helped me develop the skills that I’ve relied on throughout my career. Moreover, I had a boss who guided us through and trusted us. My next move, at Coca-Cola, was short term; however here I met inspirational leaders. This was also where I began to venture into finance analytics.
My fulfilling journey at Maersk began by sheer luck. I discovered their job offer for a finance business partner; a similar position to the one I had at the time. My time here has been very rewarding; I’ve been able to hone my leadership skills, work in a different country and make a career switch from Finance to a commercial path.
I believe analytical and problem-solving skills, good communication skills and self-drive are my greatest career strengths; these have helped me grow as a person in the work field. A challenge I’ve sometimes faced is feeling stuck at a certain position at work; it could make one feel frustrated and question one’s role. However, after consulting with my boss, we agree on an action plan to help me move to the next step.
I have been working for ten years and I am looking forward to getting into senior leadership. Eventually, I would like to take the CEO path and move towards being a generalist rather than a specialist. I also aspire to give back to other younger women and men in this industry through mentoring and coaching.
My advice for anyone new to the finance and marketing industry is that the first few years are instrumental in shaping your career. Therefore, you will need to dedicate a lot of time to it. Be someone who is willing to learn and build on the skills that you have; use the resources available to help you. Consult with your mentor. Ensure your work is exposed to the right people so that they may be conscious of your capabilities. Lastly, learn to be patient as you need the readiness to proceed to higher levels; all shall fall into place at the right time.”
This article was written by Cheryl Wambugu.
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