Career Path With Head of Investor Relations at Kenya Pension Funds Investment Consortium (Kepfic)

June 6, 2022

Mercy Gakii-Muiruri is the head of Investor Relations at Kenya Pension Funds Investment Consortium (Kepfic), a consortium of private and public pension schemes that explore investment opportunities in infrastructure and alternative investments for better returns and portfolio diversification.

Muiruri boasts 12 years of experience in pension management, investment banking and insurance.

 She shares her Career Path

Briefly tell us about yourself.

I am the head of Investor Relations at Kenya Pension Funds Investment Consortium, a consortium of private and public pension schemes that have come together to explore investment opportunities in infrastructure and alternative investments for better returns and portfolio diversification. I have 12 years’ experience in pension management, investment banking and insurance. I am passionate about pension investments and therefore it gives me much satisfaction to make this contribution in the pension industry. I am always eager to give my best and go beyond in whatever I do.

Tell us about your childhood and educational background

I was born and raised in Kibirichia, Meru County in a family of five. My father was a college lecturer and an athletics coach while my mother is still a teacher, so I can say I was brought up fairly. I did my primary school, finished my secondary education at Kaaga Girls which progressed me to the University of Nairobi for a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Later on in 2015, I graduated with a master of science in finance, specialising in investments. I have the CISI/CMA certification, qualifying me as a client-facing investment advisor.

Share with us your career journey

I began my career in 2009 immediately after my undergraduate degree as an intern at Remu Microfinance where I was the accounts clerk. Later on, I got a permanent job with Heritage Insurance in the medical department as a finance officer. At first, I was in charge of reconciliations and was later promoted to the company’s finance department as an investment analyst where my main role was managing the company’s investments. In 2015, there was a massive redundancy and I lost my job. Luckily, I had just finished my Master’s degree and over the years I had created awesome networks. I was able to get consultancy gigs that built my passion for investment management. Within a year, I joined African Alliance Investment Bank where I worked with the investment portfolio management team, client relations, business development and investor reporting and relations. In 2019, I left African Alliance and joined Enwealth Financial Services, a pension administrator as the regional business development consultant where I was specifically tasked with launching a new subsidiary in Uganda and heading it. Due to my family dynamics, I left after six months to find a less traveling and local position. I joined PKF Kenya as a business development and strategy manager in the advisory department. My key role was to drive business advisory growth and increase revenue.  In 2020, Covid hit and business advisory was struggling, so I took a career break after realising I was expecting my 3rd child. One year break to raise kids was amazing and I was able to bounce back in 2021. I work with KEPFIC, where we are championing pension schemes to play part in closing the USD2 billion infrastructure gap in Kenya by investing 10 per cent of their portfolio’s in infrastructure and alternative investments as per the Retirement Benefits Authority’s guidelines.

What are the fondest memories of your career journey thus far?

I pride myself in working in a completely new market, heading business entities there and making a difference. While at African Alliance, my colleague in charge of East Africa left for maternity leave and I had to step in. This was the greatest opportunity in my career because I ended up being assigned to head the business in Uganda and later on being contracted by Enwealth Financial Services to launch for them an office in Uganda and sign in new clients within the first 3 months of existence. It is the same pride I have currently when I see the impact and influence I have in the pension industry as I drive the consortium’s membership by bringing more pension schemes on board and seeing through the first Infrastructure investments funded by pension schemes in the country.

What has been a key driver of your growth? Lessons learnt, celebrations and failures. Attitudes, habits, principles etc.

  1. One step at a time — Most people expect to grow instantly. This expectation causes stress and when not achieved can be distressing.
  2. If an opportunity presents, take maximum advantage of it to propel yourself.  Sometimes when duties are delegated to you, please shine. You never know who is watching you. This might be that defining moment
  3. Be passionate and love what you do, it might not be what you wanted but it can get you to what you want. Put all the efforts and love it.
  4. While changing jobs, please don’t let money/salary be the determinant. Know and analyse the opportunity and the organization environment before you look at how much.
  5. Money is not the source of happiness, prioritise your family because when at your highest point of career, jobs can be lost and same family you neglected will take you with open arms
  6. Love, live, laugh. I’m always bubbly. This allows me to only take in positive energy and vibes. And yes, you stay young forever.

Who are the people or relationships that you can single out that have been useful in your career growth and how did they influence your trajectory?

My husband has always been my number one cheerleader. While doing my master’s, he would actually trans night and give me moral support regardless of him being a businessman. While busy with my work, he steps in helps with the kids. He has always been my personal assistant and advisor in my career. My Family too — I have disciplined children, an awesome mother, a mother hen sister, present and loving mother-in-law, my phone call away niece and my precious house helps. This support is the reason for my growth because I’m always at peace of mind and they push me to better every day. While called to travel for work, I am easy (you wouldn’t even know I have a 1-year-old) because of the support I get from my people.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in life?

Four years ago, I made a decision to always make a difference in people’s lives and by people I mean strangers. I took in a girl from a very poor background. She had scored 370 marks but was the best in those upcountry public school. When I met her, my heart melted. She was bright and focused. I was given the go-ahead to take her in. I consider her my firstborn, I have mentored her and she has never let me down. She will be sitting her national secondary school exams in December. She is an A material and she wants to be a neurosurgeon. She has turned out so good that I pride myself in her so much.

Key decisions you might have taken along your career journey?

Taking a career break to raise a child. At first, I was scared but my hope and confidence came from my supportive spouse. I was expecting my 3rd child. And it was not an easy pregnancy as I had to mostly be bedridden and on bed rest. This break gave me time to reflect and refresh on my career path, I was able to exclusively breastfeed my infant and while my health was better after blood pressure stabilization, I was able to start job hunting processes and finally what was meant for me happened.

Your current role and scope of job?

I am the head of investor relations and membership outreach at Kenya Pension Funds Investment Consortium. I am responsible for leading pension funds in Kenya into sustainable infrastructure and alternative investments investing. My job entails investor relations and membership management, developing strategies for the department, performance tracking and reporting, communications and marketing, capacity building support.

What would you advise the youth in Kenya today?

Let us learn to save. I know things are tight but let us prioritize our needs and let us not compare our needs to our peers. Don’t pressure yourself trying to impress your peers. Walk at your pace and you will make it. Then, if you work in an organization that has a pension scheme, please take interest to understand the investments that your scheme has invested in. This is your future so take control and run for those trustee positions, we need the younger generation in those boardrooms too.

Future plans in your career and in life?

Oh yes! We just began this big movement that I intend to grow. Private sector financing infrastructure projects in the country. Kenya can be self-reliant and this is my wish and my passion is to see this career wish come true. In life, I am already done with kids so my plan is to give them the best.

What do you do for fun?

I love working out. I do gym 5 times a week, I hike and take part in different workout challenges or bucket list programs.

If there was one thing you could change about your past, what would that be?

I am not perfect but I consider my past the greatest contribution to what I am today. I am what I am today because of my imperfect past. I have grown and I thank my past for this.

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