Caroline Afedoe: General Manager, Turaco Kenya
Launching a career in sales, returning to a former employer, and remembering to have fun at work
About our Guest
This episode’s conversation is with Caroline Afedoe based in Nairobi, Kenya. Caroline currently serves as the General Manager in Kenya for Turaco, a micro-insurtech startup that provides simple, affordable health and life insurance to low-income earners, distributing their products through partnerships with leading businesses in Kenya and Uganda. Previously she worked at Micro Insurance (formerly MicroEnsure) for over 8 years based in Accra, Ghana, where her many roles involved engaging a wide range of clients including Telcos, Financial Institutions, and Social Impact organizations. She likes to develop simple but robust engagement strategies, and to lead teams to execute rigorously and effectively. Caroline has worked across both West and East Africa, as well as some exposure to developing markets in Asia and contributing to business strategy at a global level. With this perspective, she has developed strong personal values centered around an appreciation for diversity, respect for internal and external customers and a focus on the big picture.
Everyday Leadership in Action
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Caroline:
Starting your career in a sales role can be a great way to develop business and people skills: Caroline held a number of sales and partnership development roles early in her career, including managing 3 other salespeople at the age of 25. She was able to pick up the functional skills related to sales fairly quickly through training and practice, but developing people skills required more coaching support from her manager and others. One important unlock for her around people skills was the realization that not everyone on your team thinks like you, and won’t be motivated to succeed and push through challenges in the same way. She has learned that it’s more powerful to inspire action rather that direct action. In solving challenges and striving to hit targets, Caroline found it better to leverage her team’s creativity and foster a culture of learning and information exchange.
Don’t count out your past employers for your next potential role: In her career, Caroline has completed a “boomerang” where she left a company to pursue a role at another competitor, only to return to the former company some time later in another role. There are benefits to a company re-hiring someone who already knows their culture and business context and for which they have previously seen how they perform on the job. Caroline credits her ability and decision to rejoin her former company by having maintained strong relationships during her first stint there, as well as consistently performing.
Remember to have fun at work: Caroline reflected that one key way in which her leadership style has evolved over the years is knowing when and how to relax more in the workplace setting. She points to fact that one of the values at Turaco is having fun, which reminds her to enjoy her leadership journey.
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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