My Story: From College Dropout to IT Guru and Success Coach

March 16, 2020

Paul Ngunyi is a business, career and personal success coach, and the author of Youth of Honour and The Art of High Performance. He holds a postgraduate degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology.

Ngunyi shared his journey in an interview with myNetwork.

How has your family shaped your life?

I am the firstborn in a family of 13, so I learnt to be responsible and to take up leadership roles at a very young age. By age 10, I already knew how to cook, clean and do other household chores, and I would do them diligently without needing to be asked.

What kinds of people do you coach?

As an industrial psychologist, I focus on career professionals and entrepreneurs who want to improve their lives and their businesses. I also coach individuals who feel stuck in their careers, businesses and relationships. Additionally, I do group coaching using a 10-week programme called Self and Business Transformation, which focuses on fostering success through self-knowledge, and career and business improvement strategies. More than 100 individuals have so far graduated from this programme.

How do you improve your knowledge?

I regularly read books that offer tips on personal and professional development. I also like discussing the contentious issues on these subjects with different people to get their perspectives. I also source for online content on YouTube, as well as professional and business journals that are available online.

What was the most radical decision you’ve ever made and what did it teach you?

I had to drop out of college due to lack of school fees, but that ended up being a good thing because out of it, I crafted a new career in information technology.

However, to be truly happy, I had to find my passion, and I realised that guiding others and helping them succeed gives me great satisfaction. I use my experience from the corporate world, and my training in psychology to live up to my purpose in life, which is to be a business and personal success coach. I learnt to make lemonades whenever life handed me a lemon instead of complaining, and I also learnt that optimism, excellence and hard work are important ingredients of success.

Is this the career you envisioned during your youth?

I had planned to be far more successful, but I did not know exactly how I was going to achieve that. Growing up, I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, but I didn’t have anyone to guide me.

I was inclined to science-related courses because I was good in sciences. However, I later found out that I was also very empathetic, and a good listener. I was also good in teaching and debates, so I went ahead and created a career in coaching.

Why did you quit your Bachelor’s course in Mathematics?

I dropped out in my second year and went out in search of a new path in IT. I first worked as a trainer on basic computer knowledge and while at it, I learnt more about computers.

I then advanced to system administration, technology consulting, sales and customer care services. All this time, I found great fulfilment whenever I trained my students and helped them find technological solutions. My IT career grew and soon, I was working for global IT brands. In 2002, I qualified as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, a highly sought after achievement at that time. I worked for brands such as Hewlett Packard and Lenovo, who enriched my career.

But to become a good success coach, I had to get professional knowledge, so I enrolled for a Master’s degree in Industrial Psychology.

Have your parents forgiven you for this?

Yes. They have always known that I am responsible enough to make good decisions, and they are very happy with me. When we were growing up, my family was the poorest in our village. However, the story has since changed. My parents feel very proud when they see me offering guidance to my siblings through coaching and to many other people through my books.

Now that you are 40, which were your most significant milestones?

My coaching and leadership journey started taking shape when I was in secondary school because it is there that I began to understand the world beyond my village.  This critical awareness of my surroundings and background grew deeper while I was at the university, after which I went on to record the best years of my life – my 30s. In the third decade of my existence, I grew to know myself much better even as I continued working. I became courageous enough to pursue my passion in Psychology. Self-awareness, career growth, establishing a family and personal development made my 30s so fulfilling. I now look forward to even better days ahead.

What are your weaknesses?

I detest operational tasks that are repetitive and which demand keen attention to detail, such as administration. I prefer to just offer solutions. I can also be impatient when progress is slow, and this sometimes makes me come across as demanding and overbearing.

Which chapter of your book would you recommend to young professionals?

Chapter one of The Art of High Performance, which highlights the basic components of success – self-knowledge, strategy development, goal setting, all-round development and critical success strategies.

What are your hobbies?

Supporting personal and community development projects. Over the years, I have spent my time and money transforming my rural community by paying school fees for many young people. I also spend a lot on books and enrolling for short courses.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt?

That it is only by pursuing your passion that you can realise true happiness.

How do you take care of your physical wellness?

I watch what I eat, avoid negative emotions, bad relationships and unhealthy religious practices. I value my family and regularly make efforts to continue growing in my career.

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