CEO, TAKAFUL INSURANCE OF AFRICA
Where did your educational journey begin?
My educational journey began in Malindi where I joined kindergarten. I finished kindergarten in Molo when my father was transferred for work. I later joined Standard one and finished my primary school at Westlands Primary, then went on to Kenya High School in Nairobi
Were there any teachers, subjects, or mentors who had a significant impact on your early education?
The late Professor Malik who taught pastoral and religious studies impacted me with his selflessness in imparting his knowledge and giving back to the community, despite being advanced in knowledge.
My English Teacher at Kenya High School, Mrs Ndanyi, was extremely particular. Her determination, level of detail, and insistence to do it right and speak properly left an impression on me that I have applied throughout my professional career and studies.
Mrs Okello, a Maths Teacher, helped to demystify and simplify mathematics for me. She illuminated and imparted confidence, moulding my approach to problems by affirming that there is always a solution.
What were some key formative experiences during your school years that shaped your interests and aspirations?
I enjoyed the Debate Club in primary school. Particularly the beauty and art of understanding a topic, putting your thoughts out, and using the power of logic and your words to communicate your point of view across.
Participating in hurdles, and relay races taught me the power of working with a team towards achieving a common goal. Pushing your limits to run faster, and better your performance has greatly influenced me.
In Art Class, I enjoyed the artistic concepts, and the beauty of colours and arrangements, and this continues today with my passion for interior design and landscaping.
What did you study at university?
I did my undergraduate degree in Law and pursued my Master’s specialising in Commercial Law.
What are some of the accomplishments you have made as CEO of Takaful Insurance of Africa?
The implementation of Impact programs with Index Based Livestock Takaful (IBLT) and IBLT Plus, where we aim to create parametric products not only targeting livestock but also incorporating a gender lens. This ensures that we assist women in addressing various concerns within their roles, as well as utilise the business to make a concrete impact on the community.
What challenges have you experienced during your tenure, and how do you overcome them?
The societal expectation that to be a CEO, you must be male. People often assumed that because of my position they would be meeting a man, and I would frequently receive communication addressing me as ‘Mr’ instead of ‘Mrs’. However, I take it all in stride. My own experience has been that as a woman, you get a certain limited opportunity to prove you deserve a seat at the table; and when you do get that opportunity, you need to seize it. It doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come on a silver platter. You need to stay focused, be very deliberate, balance the different roles you play as a woman, and be authentic to yourself.
Did you have any role models who inspired and guided you in your educational and career pursuits?
The first wife of the Prophet Mohamed PBUH, Khadija bint Khuwaylid lived in a difficult time when women barely had any rights in the community. Yet, she overcame this as a business leader, a successful entrepreneur, and was known for her value and integrity, and generosity to the community. When she got married to the Prophet and became ‘a mother of the believers’, she also became a mother. She balanced her different roles beautifully, in context to the times she was living in, and her excellence in each of those areas has been a source of great inspiration to me. She is one of my all-time favourite mentors who inspires me to excel and burst beyond boundaries and ceilings that have been set forth.
What are the ways you enhance your skills?
Through mentorship engagements, I participate in workshops and conferences where I speak on various areas of interest. These include Takaful, parametric Takaful solutions, climate resilience programs using Takaful tools and programs, leadership and governance, and women empowerment. Additionally, I host a TV show called ‘Aspire’. Through the show, I seek to engage a wider audience by exchanging ideas and experiences that I believe can contribute to someone’s personal growth and leadership journey.
What inspires you?
What inspires me and keeps me motivated is reflecting on whose life is better because we (Takaful) exist, whose life has been touched positively because we exist, and what impact is being made in communities and beyond, because we exist.
What are your future goals for your career and personal growth?
I plan to grow the organisation through transformative growth – by new businesses, entering new geographies and markets it hasn’t been in before – to achieve corporate expansion and tremendously increase Takaful’s impact on the wider community.
My plan for personal growth is to enhance my knowledge and languages of interest, my skills, and my ability to impact other people through my nurturing, mentoring, and coaching endeavours.