Pearls And Heels: Joy Jelimo Chelagat


Every Monday we have our Pearls And Heels segment where we celebrate women and their careers. Today’s Pearls And Heels lady is Joy Jelimo Chelagat. Jelimo Chelagat is a lover of life, and an avid reader of books and Instagram captions. Jelimo works for Citizen Digital as a content creator and a social media team leader; off the clock she gets lost in conversations and books.

Jelimo has four years’ experience in the Kenyan digital media space, having worked for Standard Digital and CfC Stanbic Bank Kenya. She is also passionate about agriculture; she runs an agric website In 2014 she was selected as AGCO Africa Ambassador.

Joy Jelimo Chelagat

  1. Describe your typical day?

Working in the media, one does not have “typical day” as such; every day comes with its’ own brand of crazy, and I love it. Most days start with a quick scan of our local competition and international publications. From there I sit with my team to plan the stories of the day and we move on to execute.

A few days a week I join the Hot 96 breakfast team to discuss hot topics from our recently launched youth brand, eDaily. Music + Mad Conversation = Awesome Start to my Day.

The rest of the day is a frenzy of stories, social media, matumbo chapo lunches and planning meetings.

If I’m lucky, I get to sneak a TED talk or a Mind Valley video in my day. Every day I try to find time to bury my nose in a book, even if it is a few minutes.

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A more appropriate question is: what did I not want to do. My mum works in medicine, so when I was really young I wanted to follow in her footsteps…that is until I realised my aversion to blood needles and all that “icky stuff”.

Then when I found my love for theatre during the national Music and Drama festivals, I dreamt of being a thespian or stage performer.

Being a daddy’s girl, my father’s love for politics gave me legislative ambitions – a desire that was quashed when I worked in the IDP camps following the 2007/2008 post poll violence.

One thing I knew all through was that I wanted something that was dynamic and people oriented. I’m lucky to have found that in the media.

  1. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

To be honest, I do not think that I would change much in my career journey. Every experience has led me to where I am today. I am a firm believer that there are no intrinsically good or bad experiences – we are the ones that attach meaning to the experiences we have.

That said, I would probably advise fresh graduate Jelimo to be more confident about her ideas. Often we are our own worst critics, throwing away opportunities because of overly critical self-perceptions.

  1. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?

Self-motivation: In the media, there are no prize giving days. You cover one story, and another major one kicks off. Before that one is done, another big story breaks.  In such a fast moving environment, there is not time to ‘clap for toto’ or cheer them on. You need to find your motivation from within, working every day to beat your previous work.

Innovation: Digital media is a fast moving world where shifting goalposts are the rule, not the exception. To succeed, one has to constantly look for ways to advance what they offer their audiences. The mantra is always: Evolve or die.

Not being afraid to fail: One of my first bosses used to say: “Succeed quickly or fail quickly. Out 10 ideas, at least one will work and that progress is better than stagnation”.  Those words have rung true over the past few years.

  1. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?

Working in Nairobi is great, but the small town girl in me yearns for open fields.

The best thing about Nairobi is that it is abuzz with possibility. Investing time in your craft and spending time with people within your network can open fantastic doors for someone in my field.

What could be improved? Maybe people embracing the truth that dimming others’ lights doesn’t make theirs shine any brighter. At times people in the communications sector think tearing each other down proves superiority. This is an utterly false notion.

  1. What motivates you?

I don’t think there is a singular answer to this question, because motivation comes from many things: family, failures, previous successes, cupcakes…the list is endless.

I suppose the desire to seize each day, making the most of each opportunity could be the overarching motivation. That and cupcakes 🙂

  1. How do you define success?

Success is growth. Every time you make a step ahead – whether you are propelled by ambition, failure, friendship, happenstance et cetera – you have succeeded.

  1. Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My greatest inspiration comes from people. Hidden in the most random of conversations, I have found bursts of inspiration. One of the most profound lessons I learned recently was from my mama mboga.

  1. What is your favourite aspect of your job?

That has to be dynamism. It gives the opportunity to try a wide range of things, and every day is different from the one before.

  1. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?

Trying tops the list. By putting yourself out there and trying your hand at new things, you often stumble onto the path to success. Even if the venture is not successful, you often learn a lot about yourself and your work environment though such ventures.

Secondly, being yourself. Often the keys to success in one’s path are buried deep within them. The things that make me good at my job would make me terrible at actuary or accounting.

  1. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?

Try your hand at everything! If there is an opportunity, take it. If there’s someone you’d like to learn from, ask them to sit down with you. If there’s an organisation you’d like to work with, reach out to them. There is no set path; you need to carve one for yourself.

  1. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?

That has to be landing the AGCO Ambassadorship in 2014, and working to promote agriculture amongst youth.  Though that opportunity, I learned a lot about Africa, development and the importance of agribusiness. I also had the opportunity to meet amazing people who are doing incredible things for the continent.

  1. What makes you happy?

Many things! Solitary travel to an exotic place. Snuggling on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book. A delicious meal with friends. Seeing my loved ones succeed…and cupcakes.

  1. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?

I love to travel. My goal is to visit all of Africa’s 54 nations before I hit 40 and to have fantastic conversations at each stop.

Getting lost between the pages (or swipes) of a good book makes time stand still. Sometimes, I prefer books to people.

  1. Where you see yourself in around 10 years?

On the career front, I would like to continue working in communication – perhaps working in development or agriculture communication.

I see myself doing more of what makes me happy: travel, reading and spending time with my loved ones.

Like my dad, I’d like to build a rich and diverse home library. My old man has 1000+ books and he’s always buying more. Maybe mine will be largely digital…time will tell.

If you would like to interact with Jelimo you can find her at @jchelagat.

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