Naomi is an In-House Lawyer at Centum Investment Company Plc since August 2014. She has previously worked as a Legal Officer at Equity Bank Limited. She holds a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Kenyatta University School of Law, is currently pursuing a Master of Laws Degree from the University of Nairobi and is a former alumni of Njonjo Girls’ High School.
Naomi’s motivation is success/winning. Her best quote is:
“It is the hard days — the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”
– Sheryl Sandberg.
Asked what she enjoys doing when she is not being a lawyer:
“I love to read a good story after a long day, although perhaps I buy more books that I should. I maintain a small circle of close friends who I hang out with from time to time. I have recently discovered the gym which works perfectly for my melancholic personality when skies are grey. Oh, and I’m always down for any high adrenaline activity and long drives.”
I asked Naomi a few questions about her journey in the profession:
What do you like about your profession?
The broad array of career opportunities available to lawyers, and the proof in the company I work for that lawyers make excellent business leaders.
What do you dislike about it?
Sometimes people assume that just because you have a law degree, they can consult you on anything and you should have an answer for them. Sometimes these are laws that you have not encountered before. I think it is a challenge for many professionals.
How/why did you choose your profession?
It was accidental. I wanted to study Medicine and Surgery but fell short of the cut-off by a couple of points. I instead got a letter to study a course I did not feel was challenging for me. Luckily, I had a brother who was studying literature in university then. He advised me to just join the university and make an appeal to the University Senate immediately. I made 3 appeals (including another shot at medical school). Two were successful. I got an offer to join school of engineering to study a BSc in Computer Engineering and school of law. I accepted the law school offer because I did not know of any rich engineers and KU had just admitted the pioneer law class. It was a struggle because I was always stronger in sciences and maths, but eventually it worked out just fine.
Who is your role model?
Mary Wamae, Group Executive Director – Equity Bank.
She has taken bold career decisions that have paid off for her. She closed down her law firm to start a legal department in Equity Bank when it converted from a building society. She is humble enough to mingle with younger people, and I am lucky to be one of them. I also admire her balance in work, personal and spiritual matters.
What has been the highest point in your career?
When I recently supervised three excellent interns. I had just completed a leadership fellowship and they were my guinea pigs for the leadership concepts I had learnt, especially the concept of managerial leverage. I did not want them to get the typical clerical experience of many interns. I wanted them to end up with meaningful experience on their CVs. We did a lot of challenging projects that were felt across the organization and the are still used as an example of the kind of interns the organization should recruit. It was a period of growth for me as it was for them.
What has been the lowest point in your career?
At the beginning when I was trying to find a job that could cater for my upkeep in Nairobi as I waited to attend and complete my post graduate diploma in law. I was lucky to get a paying internship immediately, and from there I cannot complain.
What mistakes have you made in your career?
I never thought of it as a mistake until recently, but perhaps choosing not to work at a law firm could be seen as a mistake.
How did you get over them?
I am fortunate to have joined a corporate environment that is in diverse business that has enabled me to up my skills in a wide range of laws, which in a way complements my experience as a lawyer and exposes me to commercial aspects of transactions.
Which was your best moment of your life, and why?
In this context, that would be when I left the village for Nairobi to enroll to university. I will never forget that day. It was on a Sunday, the 24th of August 2008 and I had dreamt of this day since I was a child. I milked my father’s cows and delivered milk to the dairy one last time.
What does mentorship mean to you?
Mentorship is having someone more experienced (whether older, younger or a peer) who is vulnerable enough to let you in on their life story to give you some direction.
What advice would you give young professionals seeking to join your profession?
People will give you an opportunity if you have potential. After that, grit and track record will determine your growth.