Blended Thoughts

The Future- Changers Movement

“Progress must be planned for, and excellent progress must be meticulously planned” – Prof. Munkumba; trainer, consultant and lecturer in Management and Finance with Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI).

Prof Munkumba narrowed in on the purpose of planning as one based on progress. It is all in the conviction of that which you stand for. A purposeful life is one which is lead not only with passion but with poverty of all things tangible. Once you put vanity aside, that haze that bars you from seeing beyond your temporary needs gets lifted and a whole new perspective of your life is developed.

I came up with this phrase ‘Future-Changers’ a while ago as I was sharing the link to one of my blog posts with various University of Nairobi class groups on Facebook. I needed an impactive way to address the young individuals that would get them thinking holistically of who they really are: which is the future of Kenya and the world.

Kenya is in our hands. We are responsible for what will happen tomorrow; good or bad. Our capabilities are the ones that are going to lift our country up and see it supersede the Vision 2030 agenda and all the other goals and targets that we have so set for ourselves. These capabilities should be backed by executable plans that are meant to bring forth lasting solutions.

Take one Samson Aluda. This future changer is a 23 year old university student who runs a secondary school in Kibera and he was recently interviewed by Caroline Mutoko on the Kiss FM morning show. He has very little and relies on the kindness and generosity of people to keep the facility open. With one day at a time, Samson is changing the futures of all the teens in the slum as well as his own. His plan is based on the academic progression of the children in Kibera. Given that the school is open and continues to meet the targets he has set for it, I’d say his progress is excellent, struggles notwithstanding!

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what little you think you have. If you can spare nothing else, you can spare your time and energy. Walk out of that door and change your future, Future-Changer! Meticulous plan in hand!

Should you wish to contact Samson for support or donations to the school, kindly email me at


The Interview

The STAR factor!

The Human Resource Management Students Association (HURMSA) did it yet again on Friday 25th May! It brought to the University of Nairobi, School of Business Tom Shivo, Head of HR Relationship Management & Reward, Kenya Airways! If you didn’t get a chance to read about this spectacular association’s previous stellar event, read it here.

In this cold Friday morning, all of us were leaning in to catch every bit of what Mr Shivo was so concisely addressing: Appropriate job application techniques, CV writing and handling of interviews. Right off the bat, his experience, skill and knowledge was apparent. He stressed the importance of self assessment and how it opens the door to one’s full potential. How do you self assess? By simply looking at the things that make up your daily activities. Are you a player of a team sport or individual sport? When in a group, do you speak your mind or would you rather let others go first and then contribute? These factors tell of your introvert or extrovert traits. He mentioned this in the context of CV writing. A balance of the extrovert and the introvert in you is vital. Once you analyze yourself in these and many other scenarios, you will be able to know where you need to improve and how.

This brings me to what I think was the highlight of this tremendous session. Mr Shivo introduced S.T.A.R – Situation, Task, Action and Result. This is the technique that should be used when answering those interview questions that we think are really challenging. He gave an example of  questions asked to two HR candidates in an interview, “Have you encountered a challenge in your work life?” Candidate 1 simply answers, “Yes. I had two differently ranked employees and I found it really difficult to discipline them!” Candidate 2 on the other hand is asked whether he has any weaknesses and keeping in mind that he arrived 30 minutes earlier, is composed and taking steady deep breaths to relax says calmly, “Indeed I have had a weakness of smiling a lot! When it would come to disciplining employees, I would smile and they’d often take offense thinking that I am mocking them! So I decided to approach my mentor for advice and I have since learnt how to keep my facial expressions in check and so far no employee has brought forward a complaint!” In this second answer, you can trace out a situation that occurred in a certain task and for which action was taken and the result was positive! Neat, isn’t it? 🙂 For those who haven’t started doing so, do apply this S.T.A.R factor in your responses!

A warm thank you to Mr Shivo for taking time to visit and share his knowledge with us. Salute to HURMSA for the continued effort in adding value to the lives of students in the University of Nairobi, School of Business! Two thumbs up!

Blended Thoughts

The Dwelling That Was


I’m clearing from campus in a matter of weeks and graduating in December! My time at the University of Nairobi, School of  Business has been awesome. I have made friends and even more friends. I have also grown and grown…! I’ve loved it!

This is what has been keeping me going all through:

  1. Prayer: I am those 10 minutes of prayer and reflection in my day.
  2. Family: I am fortunate enough to have a brilliant support system. My confidence comes from them.
  3. Vision: I have something I want and aspire to and that is a having fulfilling career where I can apply myself fully and go home a ‘good kind of happy’!
  4. Business: I will have my very own startup by the end of this year. One based on making the Kenyan citizen (student and businessperson) a global competitor. It’ll be all about value addition! Stay tuned!
  5. Be the one: I have a growing obsession of being 100% value adder wherever I am! I may miss the target on occasion but I believe it’s the effort that counts. Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?

I wonder what keeps you going in life.  Keep at it, won’t you?

Blended Thoughts

Be The Change That Is Needed

ASA*, FISA*, PSSA*, HURMSA*, BISSA*, NUISA*, MSA*, ABS*, OMSA*….! I strongly advise that you work together and create opportunities for yourselves. Here are my simple suggestions that come from 12 months of experience in association affairs. They are pretty simple:

  1. Team work. Posts do not make you a leader. It is unfortunate that a majority of students mistake posts as a leadership positions. Taking charge and being an effective team player is what makes you a leader; it is what gives you the right to use words like Spearheaded, Motivated, Worked, Managed, Instituted and Participated and so forth to describe your achievements and acquired skills.
  2. Create a comprehensive sponsorship list! I cannot tell for sure whether that is what is being done by all the aforementioned associations but the habit of approaching companies each time you need sponsorship is not constructive. I recommend that you create a comprehensive 12 month calendar of events, package it effectively whilst identifying probable sponsors and then approach them in a total manner! You can easily use this as a way to get needed support from your patrons, board of advisors and other stakeholders. They are sure to respect your senses of vision and strategy. Make a further step and publicize this proposal in all professional social media sites (this should be done with a particular targeted partner in mind). Further still, why don’t you all create another joint proposal? Conferences and Forums are more effective when done as a conglomerate! Think about it, huh?
  3. Research, Research, Research! In the NSE listed companies, a good majority of the board members are University of Nairobi Bachelor of Commerce Alumni! These are individuals who can be approached for long term planning and networking (for attachments, permanent jobs and Angel Investing for the entrepreneurs).

I believe ones time in the University of Nairobi, School of Business should be spent learning and perfecting skills in communication, coordination and organization. Going about this is quite easy only that you must be assertive.

I wish you all the best.

ASA* Accounting Students Association;

FISA* Finance Students Association;

PSSA* Procurement and Supply chain management Students Association;

HURMSA* Human Resource Management Students Association;

BISSA* Business Information Systems Students Association;

NUISA* Nairobi University Insurance Students Association

MSA* Marketing Students Association

ABS* Association of Banking Students

OMSA* Operations Management Students Association

Being Self-Employed

7 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

I aspire to be self employed before the end of this year and given that this is an ambition I share with many of you wonderful readers, here is a gem of an article I came across this morning about successful entrepreneurship. It is brief and ‘To The Point’ 🙂

Read it here.

Have a restful Sunday!

Blended Thoughts

I Summon You In The Name Of Your Instincts!

What makes a week’s highlight? Is it finding that lost partner of your favourite pair of socks? Or is it bumping into an old buddy? May be starting a new job. Whatever it is, I am sure it’s definitely something note worthy.

The Peace Unit Program (PUP), an organization that promotes peace within educational institutions in the country, had organized a debate at the University of Nairobi School of Business last Wednesday 25th April. I was honored when I got the call from PUP to speak about transformational leadership during the event. I am always happy when I get a chance to spread the message of value addition to my fellow future-changers in our society.

Transformational leadership to me is all about following your instincts as opposed to the more used guesswork. I believe instincts come from the purest place within us. So pure are our instincts that everything done according to them is the true representation of an ideal us. I dare ask, has anything ever gone wrong when you followed your instincts? Ralph Waldo Emerson, a world re-known essayist, lecturer and poet could not have put it better, “You have an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as a plant has root, bud and fruit. Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.”

Guesswork on the other hand is a combination of the most terrible things: self-doubt, self-loathing and self-condescension.  I may have repeated myself there and possibly invented a word but it’s all in the effort of making a point.

A leader is a team player, a servant and a true follower of instincts; all the bestselling books say so, all the known success stories swear by this, all your idols and mentors reiterate it and I beg you to believe it.

I need not tell you that Wednesday was the highlight of my week :-).

Guest Writers of Honour

The Corporate Fashionist – The Tie on a Corporate Male by Aziz Rajbhai

The tie has been a symbol of business individuals for years now. A simple piece of clothing dangling from the neck, yet holds much weight in the outlook it portrays. From the Stock exchange, to the Courts, from Financial advisors to modern Managers, ties are a must in their attire. No wonder, ties are a compulsory dressing for the likes of PwC and Deloitte.

Many of my fellow males are now near the finish line, and are now busy tarmacking for jobs and internships. In all such steps, one requires the perfect outlook, in short, the perfect dressing for the perfect impression. I can’t give you much advice on careers and other stuff, but considering collecting ties is my personal hobby, I feel competent enough to share my knowledge on the ideal tie for yourself.

Restraint is very important in ties. Do not let your tie overshadow yourself. Let the tie be noticed, but just as a mere accessory. Let’s first start with the size of the tie. For those who have put on weight and have a pot cum beer belly showing, opt for a wide tie. Wide ties conceal the stomach from view. It is a common saying in Corporate dressing, “Let your tie get wider as you grow Older”. I know the slim ties are in fashion, but do not let them slim down too much. If you have the body to show, get ties which don’t have a broad end. DO NOT however wear pencil ties to work, leave those for the party goers.

As to colour and pattern, the less conspicuous and flashy, the better. Subdued stripes, checks, polka dots and paisley patterns are fine. But no tie should look like you are wearing a neon sign on your chest. Colour is okay, but in moderation, and design is fine but should be quiet. No sprawling geometric shapes or sun-bursts. Lately there has been a influx of graphic ties with cartoon characters, football club logos and such animations. Such ties are okay once in a while depending on the mood and atmosphere of the place you are wearing the tie to. Sometimes, such animations may help, if the person you are meeting has the same liking for that animation e.g a common love for a football club.

I rather doubt if anybody needs a tie clip considering that majority of ties today are wide and of rich fabric, but if you do feel necessary, get a tie clip which is absolutely plain and inconspicuous. The tie clip should be worn well down on the tie, close to the belt. I shall call it a sin if the clip shows when your jacket is buttoned!

With that, invest in the right ties and make a worthy man out of you. Wishing you much luck in your career endeavours.

Written by:

Aziz Z. Rajbhai – 0738780137

Blended Thoughts

Optimism: A Realist’s Middle Name!

It is said that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to achieve excellence in something. I have been attending career talks for way lesser a time than that but I can tell you this, after the first two, I started thinking that I could predict the message of the every session. It’s always a treat when I am proven wrong! No Career Talk is really ever the same!

On Friday evening, 20th April, the University of Nairobi School of Business Catholic Community famously known as LK3C (Lower Kabete Campus Catholic Community), invited Daniel Njoroge, Retail Manager Safaricom Ltd for one such Talk held at the campus’ famous Biashara Hall.

This gentleman is one I can describe without hesitation as ‘fired up!’ From the onset he had such energy! As he was sharing his life’s journey with us, his humility and spirituality shone through; his smile grew wider and his gestures more animated! We who had attended the Talk were about 19 to 26 years old and this 30 year-old put as all to shame! Some of us were slouching and periodically yawning and secretly wondering how we were going to get back to our rooms amidst the rain! But I assure you, 10 minutes into the session; Mr. Njoroge had effortlessly ensured that we were all in stitches whilst eagerly jotting down notes!

The absolute highlight of the evening was when he shared with us his 7 principles of a successful life:

  1. Be proactive:Are you the one who prevents a fire or the one who waits for one to start then struggles to put it out?

    Develop Synergies Like Fire Ants Do On Water.
  2. Begin with the end in mind: Drop the mentality that ‘the graph has already been drawn’ and start drawing one for yourself!
  3. Put first things first! Priorities have to be set whilst keeping in mind that as much as you are an optimist, you should be a realist as well.
  4. Have a win-win attitude: Add as much value as you take away!
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Humility plays a key role here.
  6. Develop synergies: Like the way fire ants adjoin to form a ‘blanket’ that floats above water so should you form relationships that strive to overcome life’s challenges!
  7. Sharpen your soul: Do whatever needs to be done to improve your life. Take up that additional course, Network in a non-discriminatory way and seek to mentor as well as being mentored.

In addition, he emphasized the importance of every one venturing into entrepreneurship regardless of how small the start may be; progress in life is never instant. He also warned against postponing happiness in anticipation of a ‘better time’ that has not been guaranteed.

With Backing From Such Individuals, No Wonder The Company is No.1!

The evening ended with him sharing a cup of coffee with all the students. By this time, the rain had subsided and so I seized the chance and dashed back to my room but not before I had thanked him for his inspiring words.

Thank you LK3C for granting us an opportunity to meet and learn from such a successful and unique individual.

Blended Thoughts

How Will You Measure Your Life?

“Remember the Importance of Humility…I got this insight when I was asked to teach a class on humility at Harvard College. I asked all the students to describe the most humble person they knew. One characteristic of these humble people stood out: They had a high level of self-esteem. They knew who they were, and they felt good about who they were. We also decided that humility was defined not by self-deprecating behavior or attitudes but by the esteem with which you regard others. Good behavior flows naturally from that kind of humility. For example, you would never steal from someone, because you respect that person too much. You’d never lie to someone, either.”

These are the words of Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen to the HBS graduating class of 2010.

The students wanted him to address them not on how to apply his principles and thinking to their post-HBS careers, but on how to apply them to their personal lives. He shared with them a set of guidelines that had helped him find meaning in his own life.

Partake in their experience and learn from this successful man below:


Blended Thoughts

Meet The Future Of Finance! From London, With Love!

The Kenyan Team. From the left: Edgar Jean Ojiambo, Industrial Mentor Francis Maina Mwangi CFA, Anthony Kimani, Laurancia Barasa, Ruskin Onyambu and Justus Wambua.

Ever been in a room where the rest of the people are swapping private jokes? Where you can’t help but be filled with admiration and long to be part of the fold? Well, I had one such experience this Monday 16th of April. Finally after weeks of tracking, cancelled appointments and email swaps, I caught up with the first ever University of Nairobi, School of Business CFA Institute Research Challenge Kenya winners; a team of five outstanding Bachelor of Commerce final year students made up of Laurancia Barasa, Anthony Kimani, Justus Wambua, Edgar Jean Ojiambo and Ruskin Onyambu.

The Country Champions at the Hilton, Nairobi.

When I arrived to interview them, they were hanging out in Edgar’s room sharing their weekend musings. It was clear from their laughter and familiarity that they had grown to become great friends.

The five explained that they registered to participate in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, Kenya with the aim of building their proficiency in Business. Laurancia, Ruskin and Anthony wish to become the best in Financial and Equity Analysis, Justus’ passion lies in Corporate Finance and Edgar is inclined towards becoming a Forensic Accounting expert.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is centered around university students carrying out detailed financial research and analysis on identified companies. Mentored by a senior professional, Francis Maina Mwangi, CFA, the team researched and prepared an investment recommendation based on the analysis of a public traded company which was Athi River Mining Ltd. They emerged the best amongst all the Kenyan universities that had participated at the competition held at the Hilton, Nairobi on 8th February 2012. They would represent the University, the country and the East African region at the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Finals in London, where they would be joined by teams from the American University in Cairo and the University of Pretoria to represent Africa.

So on the night of the 12th March, 2012, the team set out to this European land for an experience of a lifetime!

From the left: Ruskin Onyambu, Industrial Mentor Francis Maina Mwangi, CFA and Edgar Ojiambo enjoying lunch after the team's presentation at The Barbican Centre, London.

“It was very cold!” Laurancia shared. “Getting around was a bit of a challenge given that London’s transport system is so different from Nairobi’s”

Upon their arrival on the 13th, they checked in at the Thistle™ City Barbican and then proceeded to The Barbican Centre for a briefing of the competition’s rules and guidelines. The next day was the main event so after a bit of a tour of the venue, they proceeded to rest.

“We rehearsed and presented at 10 am” Edgar explains. “We were grouped into 4 groups and a winner was picked from each one. We didn’t manage to proceed to the finals in New York but being there in London was such an achievement!”

Indeed, they did not get to compete in the global finals but as ambassadors of the region, they had done us proud. In our books, they had returned as victors.

I was curious of what their favorite moments were in their tour of London.

“Old Trafford!” Justus exclaimed. “As a football fan, visiting the home of Manchester United was more than awesome!”

Edgar clicking away at his laptop turned it around and showed me footage of the opening of the London Bridge. “That was such a sight!” He said with a smile.

Ruskin Onyambu and Anthony Kimani in full view of the London Bridge over the River Thames.

“Come here and see.” Anthony beckoned. On his laptop screen was the picture of him and Ruskin standing before the Swiss Re Building. “That was one of my best moments!”

Laura, with her glistening smile, told me she was fascinated at how Nairobi’s plan was a direct photocopy of London’s blueprint, complete with Uhuru Park as Hyde Park, Kenyatta avenue as Oxford Street and Victoria Station as Kencom Bus Terminus!

I turned to Ruskin in inquisition and he told me that the whole trip was fabulous to him and that he couldn’t isolate just one favorite moment.

Upon their return on the 17th March, they quickly went back to their normal schedules and unless one tracked them down and ask them of

their experience as participants in the Challenge, one wouldn’t really know what they have been up to.

I wrapped up the interview as I awaited Edgar to finish transferring some of their photos into my flash disk.

Justus Wambua and Laurancia Barasa, Live at Old Trafford!

“What are your plans for the future as far as the CFA Institute is concerned?” I asked.

“To share our insight with the next participating teams from the University of Nairobi” Ruskin said. This was echoed by the rest of the team. “We would like to mentor them and give them a standing chance because now, many more schools are preparing as they await for the next Challenge to commence.”

To the students of the University of Nairobi, get in line and watch out for the announcement of the next CFA Institute Research Challenge by the School of Business Finance Students Association (FISA), which is the contact association of the CFA Institute. Rest assured that you will have a solid backing from these state champions.

The Team on tour in front of St.Paul's Cathedral, London.