Phoebe Kagame: Head of Operations, M-Shule
Stepping up into roles where you have been appointed, influencing upwards within a leadership team, and setting clear expectations around performance with your team
About our Guest
This episode’s conversation is with Phoebe Khagame from Nairobi, Kenya. Phoebe has ten years of experience in business development, account management, human resources and partnerships in start-ups and nonprofits. Her greatest strengths are in systematically building community, nurturing relationships, and bringing diverse internal and external stakeholders together to drive impact projects forward. She is currently the Head of Operations at M-Shule, Africa’s first personalised knowledge-building platform to make learning new things impactful and accessible through AI and SMS.
In her role, she develops and cultivates partnerships that empower individuals and organizations to gain knowledge, skills and aptitudes and assess impact via SMS. Prior to joining M-Shule, she worked with the Kenya Society of Anaesthesiologists and through local partners, policy makers and industry, implemented various projects whose goals were to ultimately improve the practice and delivery of healthcare. These include coordinating for local, national and regional, continuous professional development programs and sessions, mapping the distribution and availability of anaesthesia providers, enhancing networks for consultation and development of the national anaesthesia guidelines. Outside work, she enjoys travelling and learning about new cultures; delving into African history and hiking.
Everyday Leadership in Action
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Phoebe:
In both life and at work, you don’t always seek out all the roles you find yourself playing: At times you will find yourself stepping up to fill the responsibilities of titles that are bestowed upon you. During her primary school years, Phoebe was selected by her teachers for 4 years to serve as the Head Girl of her class. This experience taught her early on the skills and appreciation for getting buy-in from other students. She needed to act as a leader for them to listen and respect her leadership, even when they themselves hadn’t necessarily chosen her as their student representative.
Influencing upwards within a leadership team is just as important as managing downwards: In her role as Head of Operations, Phoebe works closely with her CEO and CTO. She finds herself well positioned to help them stay in tune with both KPI performance and team wellness when making business-critical decisions. The impact of doing this role well is incredibly impactful for the success of the company.
Intentionality and clear expectations are the key foundations for strong managers: Phoebe learned from a previous manager that it is super important to clearly communicate to your team what you expect from them and have an open door to allow staff to seek clarifications on their goals and assignments. In cases where you need to put a team member on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), it must be clear to all involved what needs to improve and how. This leads to both motivation and acceptance. Getting this right also impacts other team members not directly involved, because teams don’t thrive when individual underperformance is not addressed effectively.
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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