The Dwelling That Was

YAY!

I’m clearing from campus in a matter of weeks and graduating in December! My time at the University of Nairobi, School of  Business has been awesome. I have made friends and even more friends. I have also grown and grown…! I’ve loved it!

This is what has been keeping me going all through:

  1. Prayer: I am those 10 minutes of prayer and reflection in my day.
  2. Family: I am fortunate enough to have a brilliant support system. My confidence comes from them.
  3. Vision: I have something I want and aspire to and that is a having fulfilling career where I can apply myself fully and go home a ‘good kind of happy’!
  4. Business: I will have my very own startup by the end of this year. One based on making the Kenyan citizen (student and businessperson) a global competitor. It’ll be all about value addition! Stay tuned!
  5. Be the one: I have a growing obsession of being 100% value adder wherever I am! I may miss the target on occasion but I believe it’s the effort that counts. Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?

I wonder what keeps you going in life.  Keep at it, won’t you?

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Meet The Future Of Finance! From London, With Love!

The Kenyan Team. From the left: Edgar Jean Ojiambo, Industrial Mentor Francis Maina Mwangi CFA, Anthony Kimani, Laurancia Barasa, Ruskin Onyambu and Justus Wambua.

Ever been in a room where the rest of the people are swapping private jokes? Where you can’t help but be filled with admiration and long to be part of the fold? Well, I had one such experience this Monday 16th of April. Finally after weeks of tracking, cancelled appointments and email swaps, I caught up with the first ever University of Nairobi, School of Business CFA Institute Research Challenge Kenya winners; a team of five outstanding Bachelor of Commerce final year students made up of Laurancia Barasa, Anthony Kimani, Justus Wambua, Edgar Jean Ojiambo and Ruskin Onyambu.

The Country Champions at the Hilton, Nairobi.

When I arrived to interview them, they were hanging out in Edgar’s room sharing their weekend musings. It was clear from their laughter and familiarity that they had grown to become great friends.

The five explained that they registered to participate in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, Kenya with the aim of building their proficiency in Business. Laurancia, Ruskin and Anthony wish to become the best in Financial and Equity Analysis, Justus’ passion lies in Corporate Finance and Edgar is inclined towards becoming a Forensic Accounting expert.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is centered around university students carrying out detailed financial research and analysis on identified companies. Mentored by a senior professional, Francis Maina Mwangi, CFA, the team researched and prepared an investment recommendation based on the analysis of a public traded company which was Athi River Mining Ltd. They emerged the best amongst all the Kenyan universities that had participated at the competition held at the Hilton, Nairobi on 8th February 2012. They would represent the University, the country and the East African region at the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Finals in London, where they would be joined by teams from the American University in Cairo and the University of Pretoria to represent Africa.

So on the night of the 12th March, 2012, the team set out to this European land for an experience of a lifetime!

From the left: Ruskin Onyambu, Industrial Mentor Francis Maina Mwangi, CFA and Edgar Ojiambo enjoying lunch after the team's presentation at The Barbican Centre, London.

“It was very cold!” Laurancia shared. “Getting around was a bit of a challenge given that London’s transport system is so different from Nairobi’s”

Upon their arrival on the 13th, they checked in at the Thistle™ City Barbican and then proceeded to The Barbican Centre for a briefing of the competition’s rules and guidelines. The next day was the main event so after a bit of a tour of the venue, they proceeded to rest.

“We rehearsed and presented at 10 am” Edgar explains. “We were grouped into 4 groups and a winner was picked from each one. We didn’t manage to proceed to the finals in New York but being there in London was such an achievement!”

Indeed, they did not get to compete in the global finals but as ambassadors of the region, they had done us proud. In our books, they had returned as victors.

I was curious of what their favorite moments were in their tour of London.

“Old Trafford!” Justus exclaimed. “As a football fan, visiting the home of Manchester United was more than awesome!”

Edgar clicking away at his laptop turned it around and showed me footage of the opening of the London Bridge. “That was such a sight!” He said with a smile.

Ruskin Onyambu and Anthony Kimani in full view of the London Bridge over the River Thames.

“Come here and see.” Anthony beckoned. On his laptop screen was the picture of him and Ruskin standing before the Swiss Re Building. “That was one of my best moments!”

Laura, with her glistening smile, told me she was fascinated at how Nairobi’s plan was a direct photocopy of London’s blueprint, complete with Uhuru Park as Hyde Park, Kenyatta avenue as Oxford Street and Victoria Station as Kencom Bus Terminus!

I turned to Ruskin in inquisition and he told me that the whole trip was fabulous to him and that he couldn’t isolate just one favorite moment.

Upon their return on the 17th March, they quickly went back to their normal schedules and unless one tracked them down and ask them of

their experience as participants in the Challenge, one wouldn’t really know what they have been up to.

I wrapped up the interview as I awaited Edgar to finish transferring some of their photos into my flash disk.

Justus Wambua and Laurancia Barasa, Live at Old Trafford!

“What are your plans for the future as far as the CFA Institute is concerned?” I asked.

“To share our insight with the next participating teams from the University of Nairobi” Ruskin said. This was echoed by the rest of the team. “We would like to mentor them and give them a standing chance because now, many more schools are preparing as they await for the next Challenge to commence.”

To the students of the University of Nairobi, get in line and watch out for the announcement of the next CFA Institute Research Challenge by the School of Business Finance Students Association (FISA), which is the contact association of the CFA Institute. Rest assured that you will have a solid backing from these state champions.

The Team on tour in front of St.Paul's Cathedral, London.

Thinking Like A Visionary With A Strategy

‘In what past situations have you shown most

evidence of visionary/strategic thinking?’

Vision is foresight. It’s looking at the horizon as opposed to the bottom line. Strategy on the other hand is positioning for the good of your objectives; being proactive. These two words are so different yet so meshed, they are like ones parents! Mum and Dad; Vision and Strategy!

When I first heard this question, I laughed! I tend to do that whenever I come across mind boggling statements. My first thought of an answer came inform of a song ; Morgan Heritage’s Nothing To Smile About! The dramatic route is always attractive to the mind! Anyway, I was puzzled. I asked one of my friends and they humorously said that the only time they thought they had shown visionary thinking was when they woke up at 4am to cram their notes before an exam! Their vision is that they didn’t want to fail!

As job hunters and/or young entrepreneurs, putting our spectacular thoughts into words can be a challenge at times. Here are a few suggestions that I think could help as possible forms of responses (in no particular order):

  • Your decision to do that particular course. By choosing to pursue Business, Engineering, Architecture e.t.c., you had a reason/plan. If you don’t already have one, research and write them up. Be sure to include words like, Vision and Strategy! 🙂
  • Taking up that leadership role in your community. Surely you had a plan for that move, right?
  • Social Media Initiatives. Those charitable events or a causes you have helped hype through Facebook or Twitter.
  • Mentorship. If you never thought of that friendship you have as mentorship, start doing so! If your friend is older, you are the mentee. If you are the older one, you are the mentor. It may not be as decorated as the mainstream mentorship but that advice you give or receive should never be in vain.

I’m sure there are more! Do share them with me here.

What’s awaiting us out in the world are situations that will test us and more often than not, what determines whether we emerge victorious is our power of being accurate discerners of our own capabilities. That’s our reality.