Mutindi Muema, an advocate of the High Court, shared her career journey with Life & Style.
My journey in the field of law has been long. It has taken about nine years of formal training, from undergraduate, Kenya School of Law, taking the bar exam and doing a Masters in Law Science and Technology while still working. The bar exam was particularly challenging since it has a failure rate of 91 per cent. I published my book on the law of e-signatures in Kenya after a cumulative 10 years of work and eight years of formal training. This was a major milestone in my career.
People pay for value. Money follows value addition. There are farmers, carpenters, welders, cobblers, tailors, and hairdressers who earn more money than lawyers, doctors, and engineers in this city. Stay teachable. It helps you stay competent at what you do. If you add kindness to being teachable, people will choose you above other equally or more qualified people. I started my career in cosmetology, transitioned to administrative work, operations and expansions, legal then public policy, and government relations. The two constant things through all these transitions were dealing with people – the importance of kindness and being teachable.
Start tracking your expenditure today
I started off my career journey earning little. I had more needs than money and kept saying that I’d start saving when I got enough money. By the fourth year of my working life, I was still waiting for enough money to show up. All this changed when I did personal finance courses. After creating a personal balance sheet, profit and loss accounts for a year and calculating my net worth, I was shocked to see the status of my finances. I had zero savings mostly because I saved to spend, saved to furnish the house, saved for school fees, saved to buy books, laptops, but never saved to invest. I started saving for investment with Sh3,000.
A dream job can turn out to be a nightmare. When I was in university, I spotted a multinational that I wanted to work for. I aligned myself strategically to land the role. About four years later, I landed the role. But the work environment at that organisation was so toxic that I used to cry every evening when I got home. I realised that so many other people went through the same thing in that office. Four months later, I quit.
I would not go to law school if I could start all over again. I would also start tracking my expenditure and saving for investments from my pocket money in high school to learn early on how to live below my means, and how to save for investments.
I use a zero-sum budget to save my money. This means that I budget for every coin. In addition, I budget for savings. This involves saving a set percentage of my income, joining a chama and a Sacco and having a savings account, to separate savings money from spending money.
Money is not everything, but it is important. It helps you do many things. Know your budget and keep to your budget. Be kind and respectful to people.