☕ CoffeeChat Weekly
Opportunities & Insights from Across Our Community
Hi everyone, here’s what we have for you this week:
When was your first memory of stepping up as a leader? Penina Kimani from Kenya-based Longhorn Publishers shares how her family and school helped her build the confidence to launch startups and take on senior corporate roles.
In what ways have you committed to lifelong learning? We spotlight Milena, a Certified Integral Coach based in South Africa, who shares about her journey to become a coach and her lifelong commitment to her ongoing development and self-awareness.
How can digital platforms increase access to employment in Africa? The Jobtech Alliance aims to help facilitate the growing community of startups doing just that, and recently included CoffeeChat on its ecosystem map.
Read on for more details…
Building confidence early, aligning one's personal and company vision, and transitioning from startups to corporates
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Penina:
Leadership development and character are shaped early: Penina came upon natural opportunities during high school and university to step up that helped build her public speaking skills and overall confidence. She also credits her parents for serving as continuous cheerleaders. She remembers regular conversations around the dinner table about situations and life decisions that often included questions such as “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” that gave her the fortitude to take risks while remaining rational. While studying abroad in Canada for college, she spoke up and advocated for a variety of topics. This confidence eventually led her to start a recycling startup, Safi, before graduating, an initiative she continued on past graduation.
Select leadership and development programs to align with your interests: Penina also had the opportunity to participate in a number of leadership programs. She found most valuable the programs that emphasized both leadership and a functional topic, which excited her and allowed her to apply leadership skills in a more focused way. For example, her participation in a program at McGill led to her passion for EdTech. For those considering different program options, she recommends considering the following questions: does it give you access to relevant mentors, and does it actually give you enough space to reflect and practice new soft skills?
Entrepreneurs can use roles at larger companies as learning opportunities during pivots: At a time when she needed to pivot her startup due to Covid, Penina took on a senior role at Longhorn Publishers, which has a mission that is highly aligned with her own personal mission. She has found the corporate position a great opportunity, giving her greater access to resources, room to learn new skills, and exposure to industry best practices.
When taking on a leadership role for an existing team, you must be aware of the previous dynamics and past leadership style: When Penina joined Longhorn, she realized that many people were not accustomed to her default management style. She had to find a balance so that they could adjust to her style and vice versa. However, such transitions do occasionally result in some staff transitioning away or out if a new balance can’t be reached that produces expected performance results.
Making a life-long commitment, witnessing others’ journeys, and empathizing with clients
Milena is a Certified Integral Coach based in South Africa. She has her ICF ACC credentials with over 150 coaching hours and works with a diverse range of clients across the globe. Here’s a preview of our Q&A with Milena:
CoffeeChat: How does your own experience working as a manager come through when coaching clients who are in managerial roles?
Managers generally have access to a bigger picture understanding of how the company runs day to day with their responsibility being to keep their team/ department performing and operating at the required levels. In my experience as a manager, I learned how to work with duality, leadership, confidence and people, and seeing a coach as well as training as a coach has only enhanced my competency in these concepts. This allows me to readily understand and empathise with clients who are either in or being primed for managerial positions to enhance their performance and potential as managers. It requires working on themselves, which will inevitably have a positive effect on the performance of their team or department, directly or indirectly.
Jobtech in Africa: expanding access to employment
The Jobtech Alliance aims to help facilitate the growing community of startups doing just that, and recently included CoffeeChat on its ecosystem map as a Skill Builder startup based in Mauritius, pictured above. They define the term as following:
“Jobtech involves the use of technology to enable, facilitate, or improve the productivity of people to access and deliver quality work.”