Last week was our inaugural Pearls and Heels interview featuring Faith Oneya. Today we have Muthoni Maingi who is currently the Digital Manager overseeing Enterprise and Consumer Business Unit at Safaricom. Before that Muthoni Maingi managed Brand Assets, Experiential and Digital at Airtel Kenya. Her job at Airtel was to ensure that she lead and implemented strategy and accountability mechanics that would drive value for Airtel customers by centering their needs in all her team’s plans.
Describe your typical day?
I don’t think that there is a “typical day” when you work in telecommunications; there is always such a diverse and challenging set of issues that need addressing on a daily basis. That said, I guess that I could say that I have a typical beginning to my day that begins with a workout at 5am-6.30am, breakfast, dash to the office and then the games begin.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a cook because I enjoy eating and cooking food for people so much, but I also wanted to be in advertising so I guess something sort of and kind of worked out. I will pen that in a letter to my 5 year old self.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would not listen to career advice, well-meaning or not, a lot of people operate from a place of fear which means that even when they mean well they curtail your plans if you listen to them. Also, nobody knows you and your strengths and weaknesses better than you do, so your context will always be different even from those that you admire. Your authentic self and confidence should be the basis on which you place your plans and not people’s advice on what you should do or who you should be.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
You need to remember the 70 20 10 rule in your application, “your application” also being key; believe that you are an expert in what you know and what you want to do within the 70 20 10 rule as well. 70% of your focus should be on the tried, tested and true applications of marketing, 20% should be on expanding the application of innovative approaches from your industry or from other industry practices with common ground on application and 10% on unknown ground that holds opportunity for growth that is untapped or lessons in failure that may be used to improve or grow on.
As a professional how is it working in the Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi rewards confidence, innovation and excellence. It is a big city but at the same time tiny in the sense that a lot of people in respective fields know each other. So if you do you and you do it well, people will notice that and will want to be associated with that too.
What motivates you?
I am inspired by micro moments and stories by people who manage their job roles and situations well. I admire the soft skills that people who work in the service industry have. I am also motivated by great leaders, not necessarily people with “cheo” as they say in Kiswahili, but people who truly lead in their roles no matter what those roles are to ensure that a great job and experience is realized for those they interact with.
How do you define success?
Getting paid to do what you love.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I find this kind of question to be quite linear, inspiration is quite varied and more complex than a one person inspirational martyr affair in my opinion.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
The freedom to really own the process and the results within my role, plus I absolutely love it when people send the brand love letters and notes on how happy they are with our services. Like this http://buzznairobi.com/am-in-love-with-airtel-customer-care-rep-caro-i-just-dont-know-where-she-is/ that definitely makes my day!
What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Appreciate the people for whom you are paid to create and produce solutions for, the customer. It really does make a difference and leads to success.
What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
I think that it is an exciting time in marketing, especially because digital provides so many exciting opportunities and the concept of consumer experiential is beginning to really pick up in the market. Reaching and providing value to customers in a multi-screen and multi-channel world and ensuring that you are meaningful, different and salient in a competitive attention market is becoming more challenging and exciting. This means that you must be always curious, always growing and always striving to be more and better.
What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?
Getting profiled as a global best practice digital care brand by Socialbakers and owning that as team leader for Airtel as well as being Kenya’s best social media brand and the 2nd best brand in telecommunications in Africa; as identified by African Brand Index is very satisfying, especially because my team achieved this in one year of very hard work.
What makes you happy?
Food, wine, friends, family and travelling and not necessarily in that order…
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I cook, eat, drink wine, travel and laugh a lot …
Where you see yourself in around 10 years?
You know what, I have never thought past my, “By the time I am 30 goals…” so far so good on those ones and I think I will be quite happy by what I have achieved once I turn 30. But beyond 30, I don’t know… I am a bit nervous of it to be honest; it seems like such a serious time in one’s life … Hmm…
You can interact with Muthoni Maingi on twitter at