Kwambie:Hello readers. Today we are joined by Rehema Mfanyikazi, a Kenyan of mixed heritage whose story about her tribulations in Huzuni Enterprises caused shockwaves in our country five years ago. Her treatment and harassment at her former employer, her subsequent resignation and how like a phoenix she rose above the ashes to be the current Head of African Markets at World Riziki Enterprises one of the Top 50 corporates in the world today. I was fortunate to catch up with her last fall in New York City, where she currently works and resides with her family.
Rehema: Thank you very much Kwambie Nyambane for inviting me to your blog today. Your Kwambie Style always inspires me and I really must get myself a jacket similar to the one that you are wearing today.
Kwambie:Thank you, Rehema, I am humbled by your acceptance to share your harrowing experience with us, how you dusted yourself and how you moved on to even greater and better conquests in your life.
Rehema:Thank you. Always a pleasure to meet up with you Kwambie.
Kwambie:Kindly share your story with the readers and allow me to interject every once in a while with a few questions. Welcome my sister.
Rehema:Well where do I even begin? I thought I had finally nabbed the job of my dreams. Here I was, young, beautiful, impressionable, had just graduated top of my class from college; rearing and ready to take on the world. The company represented all that I wished for and then some more. On face value that is. The company was located in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi, the great city, boasted of a multinational heritage, and the range of beauty products I was mandated to sell resonated well with my personal brand. Everything seemed picture perfect on face value. But trouble was just a mile away as I came to realize.
I slowly began sinking into depression and this greatly affected my work performance.
More and ,more I began to be asked to carry out duties that did not resonate at all neither with my value system nor my faith. Incidences which I am afraid I will never be able to share in this public blog but which I left safely tucked in the court of law where I gave my witness several years ago come to mind.
As if that was not enough, there were several instances where I experienced verbal abuse from my superior which dented my confidence. I soon became a shell of myself from the honours student that had joined the firm months back.
Slowly by slowly I realized that my skills were not being utilizedand I was being given mundane tasks that did not fit in with my skill set. No one seemed to implement let alone listen to my ideas and no matter how much I tried or thought I had delivered I kept being passed over for promotion.
(as Rehema picks some tissue to wipe her tears)
Kwambie; Sorry to take you back to that time and thank you for your valour in sharing your story today. I remember the photos of how the stressful job environment had even affected your physical appearance.
Rehema:I lost ten pounds pardon me meant ten kilograms in a span of one year and everyone who met me then was shocked by my negative change in appearance and demeanor. My sister, the mere thought of getting up and going to work was the stuff that only nightmares are made of. We worked long hours and the relationship with my then boyfriend crumbled since I never seemed to have any time for us to bond. Basically, I had no life, no work life balance. The writing was on the wall, that I had to leave when the company began registering astronomical losses and could not sustain our salaries.
Kwambie:Oh my goodness, I cannot believe that you went through all that all in the name of earning your daily bread.
Rehema: Thank you for your sympathy Kwambie. Once I realized that my career had hit a dead end in Huzuni Enterprises I began seeking alternative options. I made sure that even if the environment within was not enabling I still had to retain my marketability for an alternative employer. I realized that Rehema Mfanyikazi was a strong brand and I had to retain and guard it jealously come what may.
Kwambie:How did you achieve that?
Rehema:I ensured that I attained a smart online profile irrespective of the woes that were befalling me. Kwambie, I have lost count of the number of professional association meet ups that I attended, most of which I had to pay for myself. I registered for several classes and took as many projects at possible at work that gave me visibility. I upped my networking skills and stopped being the wall flower and shy girl at events. I was always rearing to meet new people. Come to think of it, I am considering joining the Nairobi Music Society later on this year when I relocate to Kenya to open a local subsidiary of our company, perhaps we could both sing soprano together? Basically, I never gave up Kwambie despite the challenges that I was facing.
Kwambie: Excellent. How inspiring, your resilience and determination to succeed the odds is remarkable and I am sure many readers to this blog can take one or two learnings from you.
Rehema:But that is not the end of my story, as I was weighing my options, one fine day I was called by World Riziki Enterprises for an interview, head hunted so to speak. The rest as they say is history and thanks to the Almighty I am where I am now. The sky is now the limit for me. One thing I would advise the readers of your blog is to really weigh their circumstances before making an informed choice on whether to transition to another employer. Many a time, a decision to leave a workplace may be due to workplace relationships that can be improved.
Kwambie:Rehema Mfanyikazi, it has been a pleasure as always catching up with you and all the best in your exploits. Looking forward to singing soprano with you. Rehema: Thank you. The pleasure is all mine.
Kwambie: So that is it for this week my dear readers, weigh your options, weigh your workplace environment. Until next week, have a lovely weekend. I look forward to meeting you all next week when we will focus on ‘Time Management’.