Doing the right thing and doing it right, motivates me

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Give young people an opportunity and the space to implement their creativity.


  • Most importantly, the whole enabling environment for youth ideas must be aligned with the policy environment.


  • Doing so will significantly reduce the country’s unsustainable dependence on employment, which is what breeds unemployment. 

For the last 20 years, Patrick has worked in different capacities in the hotel industry and in agriculture. While he started as an accountant at Wildfire Flowers, a farm in Naivasha, in early 2000s, his career took a detour as he joined Olseki Mara Camp and later Almanara Diani Beach Resort as a financial controller. His interests span business strategy, financial reporting and agribusiness.

The Catholic University of East Africa graduate discusses the mistakes young people make in agribusiness, and how to get it right.

What is the most difficult decision that you’ve had to make in your 20-year career?
Back in 2007, I decided to go back to school to complete my university education, which meant quitting a very promising job. It was a scary situation because I had a young family to fend for. I got a low paying job in Nairobi, which was an opportunity to apply some of the concepts learnt in class and to earn a living too. But to succeed, I had to give up my social life. I had to be very disciplined and to focus only on my goals. In the end, my decision rescued my career from the rut and put me on course to greater career success.

What are your core values as a professional?
I am a very meticulous person and a stickler for instructions and established procedures, irrespective of the difficulties that may exist. Also, I always strive to be flexible, depending on circumstances. I also consider all perspectives and new information before making decisions. 

Is agribusiness as lucrative as youth in this country are often told?
If you want quick success and money, you won’t get that in agribusiness. To succeed in agribusiness, you must be ready to put in the hours, bear with uncertain weather conditions, be consistent and have the discipline to keep up with routine processes.

How then should youth approach this business?
Agribusiness can be rewarding, but only with proper planning. Be conscious of unforeseen weather and market changes. Some youth invest in growing vegetables under irrigation towards the end of the year, for instance, hoping that they will reap huge profits in the hot month of January. It ends up raining early in the year, leading to a glut of green produce in the market. Many abandon the venture and move on to something else. This is a wrong approach. If you plan to farm for a year, you must be ready to bear poor market prices, knowing that you’ll be covered by the good seasons.

A note to your retired self?
Keep dreaming. Keep trying things out.

Do you think Kenya has addressed youth issues as sufficiently as it should? Why?
No. Many Kenyan youth are creative and hardworking. We’ve fallen short of providing them with the right environment and infrastructure to implement their ideas. There is minimal focus on youth in the formulation of government policy, whether fiscal or monetary. While the Youth Enterprise Fund is a great initiative, many young people find it difficult to start a business because often, as soon as you start, Kenya Revenue Authority arrives at your doorstep demanding payment of taxes.

How can the country inspire optimism among its youthful population?
Give young people an opportunity and the space to implement their creativity. Most importantly, the whole enabling environment for youth ideas must be aligned with the policy environment. Doing so will significantly reduce the country’s unsustainable dependence on employment, which is what breeds unemployment.

What area of self-development do you think young professionals overlook?
Extensive reading. We haven’t cultivated a strong culture of reading for knowledge. Whether you wish to pursue an area for economic gain or not, acquiring knowledge in that area is important. By expanding your views in different disciplines, you become a better problem solver. You also make solid business pitches when you’re more knowledgeable.

Besides money and the privileges that come with your job, what other things motivate you in life?
I am heavily result-oriented. I am motivated by delivering results in every endeavour I undertake. Doing the right thing and doing things right is important to me. As a farm manager, being able to meet employee welfare needs, creating environmental consciousness within the team and attaining customer satisfaction drives me. It is very satisfying when we achieve what we’ve set out to do as a team.

Any life lesson you would want to unlearn?
None. Each experience in my professional journey has in one way or another shaped me. We are influenced to become better professionals and human beings by remaining true to a given cause.

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