Don’t despise volunteer work

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What you need to know:

  • After three months, I was referred to Stima Sacco Ltd and was offered a six-month internship with a monthly allowance of Sh5,000.


  • This allowance could not cater for my transport and other basic needs.


  • At times I could not afford to pay my fare so I either walked part of the journey to work or got lifts from colleagues.

Ann Moochi Wainaina is a certified public accountant. She is an alumnus of KCA University, Catholic university (BCom) and University of Nairobi (MBA). She is currently the Chief Finance Officer at Jumia.


Which was your dream career, growing up?
I grew up with a dream of becoming a doctor as I loved how they looked in their neat white coats. The passion they have in their jobs and the fact that we entrust ourselves and our loved one’s health to them was motivation enough. I was a good biology and chemistry student and I enjoyed dissecting frogs.

Unfortunately, the dream died because I did not attain the required grades. I still have my dissecting kit to date and hope that one of my children or grandchildren will actualise my dreams. When I settled for a course in commerce and accounting, people warned me that it was not going to be easy, but I did not allow this to discourage me. I managed to pass all exams, except section five of CPA where I had to re-sit the business statistics course. I took six months longer to graduate and that was not easy as I felt I had let myself down by delaying my ambition of earning the title, CPA Ann.


What does it take to be a finance officer, and what course does one have to pursue to get there?
You need to have a certification in accountancy to get certified. A Bachelor of Commerce is an added advantage as most companies have put this as the minimum requirement to get an entry-level job. You also need computer literacy skills, mainly the Microsoft Office packages, in addition to hard-work and determination.


How was your job hunting journey after college? Did you get employed immediately?
Immediately after completing my CPAs, I started searching for a job in companies that were located near my college. I dropped my resume everywhere and hoped to get a job quickly. After three months, I was referred to Stima Sacco Ltd and was offered a six-month internship with a monthly allowance of Sh5,000. This allowance could not cater for my transport and other basic needs. At times I could not afford to pay my fare so I either walked part of the journey to work or got lifts from colleagues. My internship period, however, was blissful. I got the privilege to work with brilliant minds in the Sacco world, with individuals who were ready and willing to mentor me. That is where I learned to manage customer expectations, to manage my time and most of all, the importance of teamwork.

Within six months, Stima Investment co-op society was born and I was encouraged to apply for a job. Since I had Sacco experience, I was taken as an accounts clerk with a monthly salary of Sh12,000. I was the first employee of this newly formed company and had the privilege to report directly to the Sacco’s Board of Directors. The Board was a team of very knowledgeable individuals. I took this opportunity to soak in their knowledge. I learned to set up processes and controls, and to conduct audits. 


What lessons have you gathered in your career so far?
I’ve learnt to be open-minded and willing to learn new things. Immersing myself in my job, which is centred on a virtual market, is an adventure I cherish every day. I’ve also learnt to always be willing to roll up my sleeves and dive deep into all technical issues. That’s the only way to find a solution. Third, it is okay to make mistakes. You won’t succeed every day. Every failure gives you the chance to grow both personally and professionally. There is no better way to know what works than knowing what doesn’t. Lastly, teamwork is key. Without it you will not go far. Respect everyone, from the guard at the gate to the cleaner, as they are part of the team.
 

What does your current role at Jumia entail?
My roles include supporting strategy execution around business objectives and ensuring achievement of related financial commitments, identifying performance gaps and recommending appropriate corrective actions. I lead the business in understanding and using financial information, and identifying areas for improvement. I also oversee cash reconciliations, and ensure that our partners are paid as per the different agreements in place. Our partners are our most important players.


What challenges does your job come with and how do you tackle them?
E-commerce is a newer concept in Africa so I find myself needing to read widely, and to keep track of government regulations that affect the business. The business environment keeps changing and there is need to keep abreast of these changes by reviewing the existing processes, controls, and technology and monitoring what key players in the sector are doing. This ensures that you remain relevant. Another challenge is that we have to invest a lot of time studying reviews to ensure that the different expectations of our customers are met by all the teams. 


With the current high rates of unemployment, what advice would you give to young people seeking jobs?
Don’t overlook the importance of any skill. There is a need to learn new skills every day. These skills are everywhere. You can spend Sh100 in a cyber cafe or your phone to learn the basics of the internet, customer care, and MS Office. The internet has it all. Volunteer in social places, including in places like church, mosques or temples. You can learn a lot about management, logistics, and hospitality, accounting, and security skills by just volunteering.


 What are your future dreams?
 To be a true industry expert who leaves a positive impact for future generations to learn from.

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