By Timothy Owase/ Chief Executive Officer at Kenya Film Commission
I wake up at 5 am every day. The first thing I do is pray and then read one verse from the Bible. Sometimes I go to the gym, but most times I run for an hour. I usually cover about five kilometres. When I get back, I prepare for work and ensure my children are also ready for school. (I have three children aged 17, 11 and 5.) My wife passed away last year in March and that changed my program. She was my best friend and chief advisor, and besides that, she took care of me. She would always ensure I was ready for the day, prepared breakfast and packed lunch for me. My sister, who now lives with me, tried to keep up that routine but whenever she (my sister) packed me lunch, I’d cry all the way to work. I don’t carry lunch anymore.
I am always at the office by 7am. As the CEO, my role entails offering leadership and communication clarity of our vision to my internal and external stakeholders. My key responsibilities include making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of the corporation, acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors and corporate operations, and being the public face of the corporation.
Once I get to the office, I go through the newspapers. My days are very structured. Every Monday I have a management meeting and have senior management meetings on Thursdays.
I cannot achieve anything on my own and because of this, I always ensure that my team is taken care of well so that together we can achieve our core mandate, which is to create a vibrant film industry. I give them all the support they require. My mantra rests on two things – accountability and responsibility. Everything I do I have to be accountable and take responsibility. The same applies to everyone else.
Work, like life, has challenges. Our stakeholders sometimes expect certain things to be done as quickly as possible but based on how we are structured, certain things may not be achieved within the shortest time possible. They require a certain process, especially where government matters apply. But I won’t really call that a challenge. Instead, I see it as a learning opportunity.
The best career advice I’ve ever received is to stay focused, and when you set out to do something, do it to the best of your ability. Every time I speak to my parents, they remind me of that. It’s the same advice I’d give: remain focused, stay in your lane and be accommodative. You need to be always prepared for the unexpected. When the unexpected happens, be ready to face the challenge and face it with the zeal to succeed.
I’ve found that humility goes a long way. I come from a small village in Busia and worked my way to the top. If you are focused, the sky is the limit. I have also learnt that everything that we do and everything that happens around us is in God’s will. The previous times the position of CEO at Kenya Film Commission fell vacant, I was not ready. I think God led me to prepare well for the position; this included going back to school. When the position was vacant again, I assessed what they needed and what I could offer and I knew it was the right time. I applied for the job, prayed on it, went through the interview process and I got appointed. We must always prepare ourselves for opportunities instead of waiting for them. My life is a testament that it doesn’t matter where you come from. Prepare well and have a concentrated focus on what you want to achieve.
My role as CEO is my greatest achievement because I recognise that I have come from far. Also, I was recently awarded a certification as a certified film commissioner, the only one in Africa so far, by the Association of Film Commissioners International. It also gives me immense satisfaction to know that wherever I served, I gave it my best and often had satisfied customers.
I usually leave work at 5 pm, although on some occasions I can work late depending on the assignments I have on the nature of the day. When I get home, I spend time with my children, finding out how their day was and telling them how mine was. I normally read for an hour every evening. Even if it is one page of a book, I must read. I am currently reading Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne and The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma.
Outside work, I spend a lot of time with my family and friends. I also love sports and travelling. On Sundays, I go to church. I used to attend the Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM) on Valley Road but that had to change because my wife and I had a special spot we loved to sit at. Every time I sat at that spot after she passed away, I’d relive our moments there and that would lead to endless tears. Now I attend the CITAM Karen. But my faith remains. I believe in God and I believe whatever happened was within His plans.