What you need to know:
- The key drivers to my growth have been the urge to succeed, self-belief, resilience and resurgence.
- I strongly believe that positivity is the superpower that everyone must strive to develop.
James Wanyama is the Executive Director at the Institute of Pension Management (IPM). He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Moi University as well as Master’s degree in Human Resource Development.
The father of three is also a Certified Human Resource Professional (CHRP-K) and currently focusing on completing his PhD in Human Resource Management from Kenyatta University.
He shares his career journey with the Sunday Nation.
Briefly tell us about yourself.
I am a seasoned professional, trainer, a doting father of three and husband. I am currently serving as the Executive Director at The Institute of Pension Management.
Tell us about your childhood and family life.
I was born and brought up in Maliki village in Naitiri, Bungoma county. I'm the firstborn in a family of seven (six boys and one girl) of Mr and Mrs Nicholas Sawenja Wanyama. My parents sacrificed so much me and my siblings and laid great emphasis on obedience, responsibility and fearing God.
I took my early years' education in three schools starting with Lukhokhwe Primary School, Sango SA Primary School and Konoin Primary School where I completed my KCPE. I then joined Friends School Kamusinga and later Moi University for my Bachelor’s degree in Education as well Master’s degree in Human Resource Development. I am also a CHRP-K and currently focusing on completing the long-overdue PhD from Kenyatta University.
Share with us your career journey.
I began my career in monitoring and evaluation but a few months immediately after graduation, I was drawn to the project management space, by then earning Sh5,000 on a project basis. Being skilled at bringing people together and working towards common goals, I later got another opportunity as an associate consultant. Within six months of working as an assistant consultant, I joined Oshwal College as an assistant lecturer.
My success in leading teams and teaching led me to consider administration, thus becoming head of business department for five years. I was also an adjunct lecturer in a number of universities such as Moi University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, University of Kabianga and Management University of Africa. In 2017, I joined College of Human Resource Management as Deputy Principal. In 2019 I joined Institute of Pension Management.
In my current role as the executive director at the Institute of Pension Management, the efficiency of leading has been a personal focus. I set and oversee goals related to the institute’s core business lines of corporate trainings, research, advocacy and publication. We also have the IPM College that builds capacity in people across all walks of life in the areas of pension, HR management, insurance, real estate and business management.
The scope of work includes delivering management and organizational strategy development to drive change management and improvements in communications, strategic execution across the institute departments and campuses, leadership development, corporate governance, risk management, and procedural compliance for the institute. We have presence in Kenya and Zambia.
What's the most memorable thing about your career journey?
It has been the transition from being a full-time teacher, university lecturer to a HR professional and now the Executive Director. That transition has been surreal and has shaped me into the person I am today.
How has been career progression over the years?
I want to thank God, for giving me the serenity to remain steadfast and industrious in all I did. This enabled me to transcend the obstacles and myths associated with career growth and development in a typical protean career cycle characterized by developmental progression and self fulfilment. Indeed, the progression has been characteristically incredible.
What has been the key driver of your career growth?
The key drivers to my growth have been the urge to succeed, self-belief, resilience and resurgence. I strongly believe that positivity is the superpower that everyone must strive to develop. I have also learnt that anything you do, do it with total commitment and believe. Gather the energy, build confidence and self-esteem. Always celebrate the little milestones since they are the building blocks for greater achievements.
Who would you mention as having influenced your career path?
I wish to single out my parents, my dear wife, my mentors (both at leadership and professional levels) and my colleagues for their inspirations and prayers. These people always challenged me to do more than I thought I was capable of.
Key decisions you might have taken along your career?
A career is a marathon, not a sprint. I have been strategic in identifying organizations that specialize in my skillset. This coupled with networking with people, looking for opportunities that stretch and challenge me, and lastly not get hoodwinked by shortcuts.
Let’s face it, things don’t always go as we plan, right? And, sometimes, things can be downright frustrating and disappointing. But every time, let us dream big and believe in them.
What would you tell your younger self?
This world is larger and complex than you think, your worries aren’t as vital as you would presume they are, just be you!
What would you advise the youth in Kenya and Africa today?
Be humble and don’t be a follower in the crowd. In the current environment, it is popular to be haughty or arrogant. Such attitudes tend to prevent an individual from developing healthy relationships. Being humble allows you to be open to learning from elders and making adjustment to become a better person.
The Covid-19 period particularly has not been easy for today’s young people. Your education has been disrupted; you have been separated from your friends and family. You may have lost your job, or lost hope of finding work in uncertain economic times.
But I am here to tell you big changes are coming as a result of these disruptions, and you need to be part of them. Therefore, do not give up.
I would love to be a true and impactful leader with successful end-to-end experience under my belt.