Lillian Ngala: The brains behind a platform helping professionals achieve their career goals

Lillian Ngala, the founder of Lillian Ngala Network, during an interview at her office along Mombasa Road, Nairobi, on October 11, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Lillian Ngala has been in the human resource space for about two decades and is now giving back to society.
  • She launched the Lillian Ngala Network, a platform that brings together like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds and experience.

Everything about how Lillian Ngala's life trajectory – or simply career – has panned out always reminded her that she needed to send back down the elevator. But she always wondered about when and how to make it “impactful and relevant” to different generations.

When she launched the Lillian Ngala Network (LNN), a platform that brings together like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences, she knew she had cracked the code.

She founded the LNN as “my little way of giving back to society” to provide a platform for members to connect, learn, grow, collaborate, and leverage each other's strengths to achieve their goals.

By fostering strong relationships, Ms Ngala explains, the network amplifies the potential for personal and professional success and offers career mentorship and coaching to individuals.

Career growth, like social growth, is fundamental to every human, Lillian figured out. At a time when the rate of unemployment in Kenya is on an upward trend, she has offered to groom individuals – matching and mentoring or coaching as the case may be – as a catalyst for career growth under the LNN.

“Sometimes, we just need to be handheld and shown the way and someone who can speak about us when we're not in the room,” she says, explaining that she immensely leverages the networks she has created over time along her career path.

A human resource professional by training and a philanthropist at heart, Lillian is keen on impacting the life of everyone whose path crosses hers.

Having been in the human resource space for close to two decades and rising through the echelons to being the human resource director at Diamond Trust Bank, she has learnt that academic qualifications and classroom knowledge are not sometimes enough.

“There are doors that can only be opened by networks,” she says.

“We are now embarking on an exciting journey of strategic networking to unlock our true potential to become active contributors and not passive actors in our different spheres.”

The network is anchored on three pillars: nurturing, transforming and impacting. Through the platform, professionals can register either as a mentor or mentee.

Participants are paired with partners to grow professionally through a structured framework that “fast-tracks the members' growth”.

This is “an academy sort of” where, for six months, participants are groomed “to unlock their full potential” upon which they graduate and are passed on to “go be the best versions they can be.”

Once paired, they also regularly reconvene to checkmate, she explained.

While the LNN offers a dynamic and inclusive community committed to empowering individuals to unlock their true potential, it particularly aims to transform lives.

Lillian envisions making lasting impact in Kenya through strategic networking, centred leadership, mentorship, executive coaching, and HR clinics.

Participants meet frequently to assess their progress, and while at it, support each other in their quest to refine themselves to be their best versions.

“Remember, networking is the surest way to becoming the best version of yourself. Deep human connections will take you to places where education alone won't suffice,” she offers, urging everyone who wants to spin around the trajectory of their lives to join the LNN.

The conviction in her voice when she talks of how long she had toyed with the idea tells of “a big reality born out of a big dream.”

Based on her background and experience of many years, she explains, the gratification she draws from watching junior colleagues, whom she has mentored, grow has cemented her conviction.

“I realised that I love working with people. I've had the privilege of interacting and from time to time developing, nurturing young people, seeing my mentees rise. It tells of the love for what I do.”

For her, she is but in her little way giving back to society. Over the period, she says, not all work challenges can be solved by sitting in a classroom. And neither can all work challenges be solved in seminars and workshops, she has learnt.

At the core of the network is career coaching and mentoring that borrows largely from her vast industry experience in human resources.

Lillian is a holder of a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and an MBA in Strategic Management from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

She is a certified professional trainer and has a postgraduate diploma in human resource management from the Institute of Human Resource. Lillian also serves on the Board of Kenic, where she chairs the HR committee.

She is currently the vice chairperson at the Kenya Institute of Bankers and serves at the National Industrial Training Authority in the finance sector committee.

She is a council member at the Institute of Human Resource Management whose disciplinary committee she chairs.

Earlier this year, Lillian was recognised as one of the Top 20 Leaders in Kenya by Disruptive People and was also named in PeopleHum's list of the Top 50 HR leaders in Africa in 2022.

At her workplace, she spearheads the people strategy and oversees all key HR agenda. But making it in any industry, she knows, takes grace and favour and so much more. This is the gap she desires to bridge through the network.

Her practice has not only opened her eyes to the struggles in the workspace but also those in the career space, she narrates. The power of networking and building meaningful and impactful conversations and relationships, can surely propel one to the career path they envision, Lillian offers.

She says the LNN is about creating networks that one can depend on. “Networks that you can leverage, irrespective of your level in the professional space.”

With this, the network features different individuals ranging from those at entry levels to senior levels and even executives.

“By bringing all those people into one community or into one space, you’re giving them an opportunity to network and leverage the importance of networking.

“The network will give you that space and a network that would open those opportunities that neither papers, backgrounds, nor interest can open for you.”

The LNN, she says, promises to be an exclusive community to members and all-inclusive as every member matters.

The programmes are curated and tailored to speak to every individual's needs, depending on their interests, backgrounds, and professional levels.

“Lillian Ngala Network is a dynamic and exclusive community committed to empowering its members by unlocking their true potential,” she says.

“The network aims to transform lives and make a lasting impact in Kenya through strategic and meaningful interactions that would ensure all members are active contributors and not just passive participants in their respective organisations.”

The network promises to be “not just a community but a vibrant force dedicated to unlocking the true potential of its members.”