Ruth Njuguna: Best decision I ever made was taking a career break

Ruth Njuguna

Ruth Njuguna the General Manager of Octagon Pension Services LTD, a subsidiary company of Octagon Africa.

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • One lesson I continuously remind myself is that there is no shortcut for success, the price of greatness is responsibility and sacrifice.
  • I have had to go the extra mile and move out of my comfort zone to be able to reach my desired objectives. 

Ruth Njuguna is the General Manager of Octagon Pension Services LTD, a subsidiary company of Octagon Africa.

The 33-year-old holds a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Nairobi, a Bachelor’s Degree in Actuarial Science from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.  

She spoke to nation.africa about her career path.

Briefly tell us about yourself

I’m a highly motivated and self-driven young professional who prides in investing her time and skill in changing the world, one step at a time.

Tell us about your childhood and family life

I was born in Nyeri and grew up in Kitale for the better part of my teenage life before moving to Nairobi in my adulthood. I’m the second born in a family of three children who have successfully managed to churn great career paths of their own. My parents were civil servants within the Agribusiness sector and were very instrumental in the career choices we made.

Share with us your education background

My educational journey started in Kitale School where I sat my KCPE. I later joined Loreto High School in Matunda. I have a Diploma in Employee Benefits & Retirement Savings, Pensions Management Institute (UK), Certified Trustee Development Program Kenya (TDPK), College of Insurance and BSC Actuarial Science, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

Professionally, I have practiced and offered services for various organisations, ranging from Pension Consultancy and Administration, Strategy and Transformation, Organizational Performance, Quality Management, Customer Service and Relationship Management.

Share with us your career journey

Having worked at different levels within the pension industry for over 10 years, I have a wealth of experience within the financial services sector. I started off as a clerk in an insurance brokerage firm, managing general insurance and office administration. I later moved on to a fully-fledged insurance company as a junior administrator on a contract basis.

The odds worked in my favour and I later joined a pension trust company as a pension administrator for three years and soon enough I got opportunities that largely propelled my growth towards management and eventually my current position as the General Manager of Octagon Pension Services Limited.

What do you remember most about your career journey?

To earn my position as a permanent staff at my first professional job, my boss then put me to a litmus test without disclosure. My supervisor resigned a few weeks after I was recruited and I was requested to hold fort until they could get a more experienced candidate. A month later, no suitable candidate was forthcoming.

Later, the department head assessed my progress and was impressed with my deliverables. He immediately recommended me for the position with an emphasis on capacity building through training and development.

Since then, I have come to appreciate that excellence is not just a skill, it is an attitude that makes a big difference.

How have you progressed in your career over the years? 

I have managed to scale the corporate ladder from an administrative clerk to a strategic position to a large extent through hard work, resilience and dedication.

What has been a key driver of your career growth?

One lesson I continuously remind myself is that there is no shortcut for success, the price of greatness is responsibility and sacrifice. My key driver of growth has been drawing inspiration from a tribe of mentors, both professional and personal.

Besides the above, I’m an avid reader and draw a lot of knowledge and insights from books. My current read is #YouthCan by Lizz Ntonjira, a collection of powerful, inspiring and challenging stories from youth breaking barriers across Africa.

Understanding the environment within which you operate in, the dynamic nature of the business environment and how to work with individuals from different backgrounds has been both challenging and a source of learning as well.

Currently I am pursuing an MSC in Business Psychology as it plays a great role in management and organization culture.

Who are the people or relationships that you can single out that were useful in your career growth and how did they influence your trajectory?

My parents have played a great role in shaping my career. Their actions and ethics have always inspired my achievements as they largely practice what they preach. I have learnt to leverage on other peoples’ experiences, both positive and negative towards my personal growth objectives.

Key decisions you might have taken along your career?

I have had to go the extra mile and move out of my comfort zone to be able to reach my desired objectives. At some point within my growth, I walked away from my career and took a break to do soul searching when I felt whatever I was chasing was no longer purposeful. When I look back, it’s the best decision I ever made as it helped me reflect and steer my personal and professional objectives in the right direction.

Your current role and scope of role?

I am the General Manager at Octagon Pension Services Limited. My responsibility is to drive growth for the pension business within the Kenyan subsidiary while maintaining relationships with key stakeholders and partners to deliver strategic value.

In addition, I oversee operations within the business unit mainly administration of corporate pension funds and consultancy services. To achieve this, I need the support of my team members and therefore, inspiring and growing others through effective leadership is the first obligation that I strive to achieve on a daily basis as the ultimate measure of success.

What would you tell your younger self?

Time waits for no man, so I try to give my best every single day and let God do the rest. Whereas I wouldn’t change anything in my past, it hasn’t been smooth all the way. I believe that the process makes the person, experiences whether positive or negative largely shape who you become in the long run.

What would you advise the youth in Kenya and Africa today?

We must dream the world we want to live in. It is the right time for the youth to rise up to the challenge by taking up leadership positions and influence greater outcomes in all facets: political, business, social etc. However, this can only be achieved through discipline, persistence and patience. The future is bright and they should aim to change for the better.

Future plans?

I aspire to rise to greater challenges within my career path and even beyond. Of importance as well is to grow and mentor other leaders within the process. Beyond the call of duty, is a deeper desire to make a difference in the lives of others through giving back.

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