Asha Mweru: Director of Talent & Operations, African Management Institute
Combining creator and operator roles, seeing your own leadership challenges in others, and selecting a team-wide OKR tool
About our Guest
This episode’s conversation is with Asha Mweru, from Nairobi, Kenya. Asha is an experienced Pan-African professional having worked in different initiatives in new company building, working with entrepreneurs to scale their businesses, managing multi-country complex projects for entrepreneurial ecosystem builders and providing financing through venture capital to early-stage and growth-stage businesses.
She has worked as an advisor for entrepreneurs in Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uganda and has designed and facilitated business training to over 1000 entrepreneurs across Africa. Most recently, she designed a tool that has been adopted and deployed by the UN-International Trade Centre to support startups in preparing for due diligence with an investor across several markets in Africa.
Currently, she is a Director of Operations and Talent at African Management Institute (AMI) and Co-Founder of WomenWork Kenya. She has been recognized by Facebook as Community Leader, the University of Capetown as a young African Leader and the British High Commission. She’s a strong believer in failing fast, learning along the process and never settling.
Everyday Leadership in Action
Asha has navigated a number of entrepreneurial organizations during her career so far. During our conversation she shared several important takeaways:
Pick your guiding north star(s) when making career moves: Over the years, Asha has identified two key elements of her ideal role - she sees herself as both a creator and an operator, and pursues career opportunities that provide space to do both. If you aren’t intentional in this way, you may end up in a role that doesn’t bring you enough joy over time.
Sometimes it’s only years later that leadership lessons really sink in: During and after transitions, it’s important to slow down to reflect on past leadership and career learnings. Yet it’s often only after you’ve moved on and seen other leaders in action when you can develop the self-awareness to understand the underlying reasons of your personal leadership and team challenges during past roles. Your ego and lack of perspective can get in the way of recognizing insights right in front of you.
Develop an easy-to-understand summary of your leadership role that other teams and new staff can easily grasp: Asha describes her role in two ways - as Director Talent & Operations, she tells other team members that “it’s my business to get in other people’s businesses” and “I work alongside managers to ensure everyone at AMI is thriving”. Because she is easily able to articulate her mindset, it provides a framework for others to engage and embrace her support.
Select a goal-tracking tool that provides enough organization-wide visibility and accountability, while being easy to use: Asha carefully researched a tool to help her company’s 80+ staff select an OKR tracking tool that allowed all levels of staff to see real-time progress against their quarterly goals without requiring extra reporting.
The Everyday Leader is a podcast featuring conversations with leaders from across Africa’s companies, organizations, and governments about their experience managing teams and projects throughout their careers.
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