My Career Journey From Sh800-a-Day Job to Starting Consultancy Firm For SMEs

January 17, 2022

Rosemary Ndinda holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) degree from the University of Nairobi, and a Masters degree in Strategic Management also from the same university.

The 39-year-old quit her job with Henkel in April 2020 after working for nine years with the German multinational consumer goods company. She had been the country head, Consumer Adhesives, Eastern, West and Central Africa.

Ndinda went on to start her own sales and marketing consulting firm, Solidlaunch Consulting Kenya.

The mother of four shares her career journey with the Sunday Nation.

Tell us about your childhood, family life, and career dream.

I grew up in a family of five children, I being the only girl among four boys. Growing up, I was very naughty, I was always getting into trouble for one thing or another. I was shipped to boarding school at the tender age of 9 years. This I always say was my saving grace from my mum who was really strict.

But I was really tough and I survived boarding school. Surprisingly, later on, when my brothers were taken to boarding school, none of them survived.

My dad, who was in the military, passed on in 2002. My mum has since been my pillar and greatest role model. My mum, who is an educationist, graduated top of the class in A and O levels, proceeded to graduate from Kenyatta University, and later pursued her Master’s Degree at Mount Kenya University.

She is the epitome of success for me. Through her, I have seen and experienced firsthand what determination, success and hard work look like. She taught in different schools, including Alliance Girls and Machakos Girls High Schools.

She was later picked by the late President Daniel Arap Moi in establishing AIC Nyayo Girls, Konza. She has since retired to run her own private School, Emali Mt Zion, that now has more than 500 learners.

Growing up, I don’t remember having a vivid career dream, in fact, it was only after my KCSE results that I developed an interest in a career in business.

Your educational background?

I went to Vitale HGM a Catholic boarding school in Kathonzweni from where I proceeded to Precious Blood where I scored mean grade of A- in my KCSE exams in 2000. After high school, I was admitted to the University of Nairobi, for an Undergraduate Degree in Pharmacy. However, I changed the course to pursue Business.

It is then that my mother suggested that I attend Strathmore Business School where I pursued some business courses. In 2002 I joined the University of Nairobi’s School of Business to pursue a degree in Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Marketing. I graduated in 2006 with Second Class Upper. I later enrolled for an MBA in Strategic Management and completed my coursework in 2020.

Share with us your career journey.

While in college, to earn some cash, I was always doing odd jobs and promotional activities with different companies. During my third year, I landed a casual job to fold and send out customer bank statements at NIC Bank (Currently NCBA). I would go to the bank between 1st and 5th of the month to fold the statements for Sh800 a day. While I was doing it, I met the then HR Manager and later made a general application to the bank. I continued folding statements every month.

A year later, a month to graduation, I was asked to attend an interview which I passed and got an offer for a Client Service Representative position. It was a permanent and pensionable job with a salary of Sh45,000. I was beyond elated. Two years later, I joined Stanbic Bank as a customer consultant where I worked for the next three years.

Banking was not something I wanted to pursue long-term, and while I was good at it, I worked hard to look for opportunities outside the banking industry. I felt that I pursue Sales and Marketing in a more liberal and enabling environment. I felt that in a regulated environment, there was little room for creativity. I, therefore, joined Henkel as a Key Accounts Manager. This was the starting point of the rest of my career journey.

What is the most memorable thing about your career journey? 

I have many memorable moments, one of them being my determination to exit the banking industry and putting in the work and effort to make a change and succeed in it. Earlier in my schooling, I did not choose work, I did not look at work as manual. I folded the statements till I got an opportunity to do something more meaningful.

Throughout my career, I have won several recognitions and awards for excellent performance. This is what has defined my career path to date, the highlight being a Sales Leadership Winner in Africa at Henkel as well as being awarded with a Korn Ferry Sales Leadership course worth 8000 Euros.

How has been your career progression?

My career has had an upward trajectory. My goal has always been to retire early and create my own brand. I have partly realized this dream through Solidlaunch Consulting which was founded in 2020. I am looking forward to fully focusing and growing my brand, doing what I enjoy most.

Solidlaunch Consulting is a 360° agency that offers organizations outsourced sales and marketing solutions right from Strategy Formulation to Execution. The company is pillared on my experience, strengths and successes throughout my career, working with SMEs, multinationals and startups to support their go to market initiatives

What are the key drivers of your career growth?

Passion, self-drive, and focus are my key drivers for success. I work best in environments where I am enabled to, where I am allowed to deliver and learn. My biggest successes were realized in environments where I would be accountable to myself first before anything else.

I’m a believer in having a voice, believing in something and never shying off expressing your views, even when unpopular. I’m averse to mediocrity, standing for nothing, or being average

In my career journey, I have learnt various lessons, top on the list being “balance is the new measure of success”. To be successful, you have to reflect on all spheres of your life. From self, to relationships with others, family and career. I have also learnt that Family is everything, that in moments of difficulty, the most important pillars are your family.

I have also learnt that goal setting is very important. Just as there is no successful company that exists without goals, to be successful individually, you need to set goals and visualize them (write them down). I have always had a vision board displaying all my goals

I have also learnt that work is work and personal life is personal. Blurred lines shouldn’t exist, whenever they do, a lot of problems, conflicts are bound to occur.

Anyone you would credit with influencing your career trajectory?

People and relationships have influenced my career journey in a lot of ways. After all, you don’t experience success in a vacuum. There have been both positive and negative influences.

I once had a boss called Samuel Langat, who was my General Manager at Henkel. Through his leadership, I learnt a lot. He gave me room to be – to grow, to learn and to make mistakes while at it. he is the one who taught me to always voice my opinions and ask questions. This has been a big factor in my growth – to stand for something, to voice it and not to tolerate mediocrity

Key decisions you might have taken along your career?

The decision to start my own company, Solidlaunch Consulting, remains a pivotal point in my career. All the opportunities that have come thereafter were as a result of that decision. Taking a dive into entrepreneurship at the height of a pandemic, taught me resilience.

Your current role and scope of role?

I am the founder and CEO of Solidlaunch Consulting, a sales and marketing consulting firm. The company was founded in May 2020 and provides sales and marketing consultancy services, such as outsourced sales and merchandising teams, retail solutions such as promotions, retail audits, branded merchandise, printing and apparel.

What would you tell your younger self?

“I am proud of you, you have faced situations that would potentially break you, but you have overcome them gracefully.”

“Every failure or every challenge overcome will be the lessons you need to succeed further.”

“The higher you go, the lonelier it becomes, so expect that you will shed friends as you grow.”

“Celebrate yourself at every juncture. Every small win takes sacrifice and dedication.”

What would you advise the youth in Kenya and Africa today?

I’m involved in youth mentorship (pro-bono) and I get to interact and speak to a lot of young people. They are ambitious and want instant results. You can’t really blame them. It’s the 21st century, after all. Everything is much faster.

There is no such thing as instant success. Sustainable Success is achieved through consistent discipline and execution over a period of time. You have to endure and repeatedly show up in small beginnings, as grim as they may look, in order to experience the huge successes that you aspire for.

Future plans?

I plan to grow my company. Having started the company during the pandemic, the growth has been slow. I would also like to collaborate with other entrepreneurs and pursue business projects. My ultimate goal is to serve Kenya in a cabinet position and to serve Africa through policy formulation.

What is your biggest fear in life?

I’m a mum, so my fair share of fears will most likely involve my children. A wise person once said, tell them, they will forget, show them and they will forget, involve them and they will learn. Through parenting, I have come to learn that the biggest influence on your child’s behaviour is what they see you do, the values they learn from seeing you observe every day.

And so, my moral compass reads something like “Would I be proud if my child did this.” With this I always hold myself to a higher standard, I consciously vet my actions and words as they are watching.

My biggest fear is that my decisions, actions are not enough to influence my children to be selfless, driven, responsible humans.

What do you do for fun?

Going through a divorce at 37, I made a self-discovery. As you can imagine, during that period I spent a lot of time alone, going through the motions of life as it were. Outside bonding with family, I love just spending quiet time with myself, reading a book or watching a documentary. I also enjoy eating and lone coffee dates, something I couldn’t imagine doing in my early 30s.

If there is one thing you would have changed about your past, what would that be?

Kenny Rogers in the Gambler sang: “You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run…”

There are positive experiences that I could have encountered if I held on, and negative experiences that I would have spared had I walked away when it was time.

My biggest regret was holding on when I should have walked away, and walking away when I could have held on. But here’s the thing with life, you don’t quite know till you’ve done it, and so this is in hindsight, and all I carry now is a basket full of lessons and a sharper intuition with every misstep I took.

My favorite quote is, “Soar, eat ether, see what has never been seen, depart, be lost, but climb.”

That has been what has jolted me, in hard times, I have been faced with huge challenges, losses in life, but the will to keep climbing has kept me focused.

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