Wangari Muikia, the founder and Managing Director of Expertise Global Consulting is an ambitious lady. The sky is her lower limit. With her firm keen on improving public sector delivery through management of public finances and policies, she works with private players, development agencies and African governments to achieve that. In 2017, Wangari gave a talk at TedTalk Ridgeways Nairobi on being raised in Kenya, schooling and working in a multicultural environment, her interests in public finance and policy, and why working with development agencies shaped her dreams. She narrates her journey of self-discovery in an exclusive interview with StartUp Magazine.
After my high school studies in Kenya, I got a scholarship to pursue International Baccalaureate program in the US for two years. I was selected as the only representative from Kenya at the time because of my academic and leadership qualities as well as my overriding zeal to impact change in others.
Back in high school, I had been selected as the head girl by my peers and teachers. I did not imagine I could be a leader and the fact that people saw leadership abilities in me, it pushed me to believe that I can be able to lead and succeed anywhere in the world.
After the International Baccalaureate program, I got another scholarship to study Management in Information Systems at the University of Oklahoma. Thereafter moving to Washington DC after studies, I was fortunate to get a permit to work for a year.
Soon after, I got a chance to work at the World Bank which hugely shaped my future career know-hows despite lessons on humility and hard work. Starting off as a part time assistant associate in a small storage room, I was tasked to file documents. I did not shy at the opportunity but grabbed it and filed so many documents that my seniors were surprised. They marveled at my hard work and dedication which later got me a promotion to a junior professional associate. I grew up the ladder and made my bones at the World Bank while learning important tenets in public finance and administration. After three years at the job, I left to take up another scholarship at Harvard University, the Kennedy School of Government for my Masters in Public Administration.
I met intelligent and incredible minds at Harvard who inspired me to be very competitive. I was also self-driven by my mantra of never setting boundaries that would limit my ambitions. Having the sky as the lower limit particularly mirrored my sentiments as a child and when I told my mum that I wanted to be the President of Kenya.
My ambition is priceless!
I later came back to Kenya and worked in senior positions with Dalberg Global Advisors, the National Treasury and the World Bank in Kenya. I undertook several other projects with development agencies among them USAID, DANIDA, DFID and the Global Fund as well as advised on several other government projects including devolution.
Although I loved my job at Dalberg, it was however short lived. I had a heavy travelling schedule and was away from home and my family most of the time. I had to reconsider my career options. It is also these invaluable experiences at the firm that a model for Expertise Global Consulting was birth.
Working with the World Bank here in Kenya and the National Treasury was of interest to me. I was posted to the office of the Country Director to help set up strategy, coordinate and align donor support to the National Treasury. When Kenya’s new Constitution was being implemented leading to devolution, the World Bank was very quick to set up a fiscal decentralization programme that would support the National Government to transition. I was largely involved in actualizing it.
The idea of setting up Expertise Global Consulting began taking shape back in 2014 when I was still at the World Bank. I felt that I wanted to do something more and spread my wings further. I felt I was being constrained as an employee and I opted out to start consulting independently.
I started working as an independent consultant after setting up the firm. A year later, I set up structures and re-established connections and networks that I had while being employed.
At Expertise Global Consulting Limited, we undertake entity-specific analysis by working side-by-side with our clients on the ground, identifying the issues and providing context-specific recommendations. We also create and disseminate knowledge, based on our own internal research and analyses; a research that enhances the ability of our clients and the public to actively engage in the improved provision of public services.
I am a firm believer in utilizing my talents as much as possible, and as an entrepreneur I got to fully actualize that. My ideas are the goals, visions and objectives of the company and that by implication means that I have to prepare well. In that regard, I have a very young, robust and dynamic team which is very integral towards the realization of our goals as a company. We are very open, flexible, and innovative and we stay in touch with reality, which keeps us moving.
Working as an entrepreneur is fantastic. It keeps me energetic and knowledgeable to new ideas. I don’t have a specific work routine, but I come to office early in the morning, respond to emails, prepare my day and later meet with my team to check on the progress of assignments. In the afternoon, I mostly focus on business development although this can change depending on the day.
The business has its ups and downs and as an entrepreneur you have to prepare effectively. There are lean moments which have taught me invaluable lessons, key being the need to balance my finances and work portfolios.
I have also learned to balance my work and family time. Every day I make sure that I have taken breakfast with my kids and drop them to school before coming to work. I also dine with them daily and catch up with my husband when he is away. On weekends, I spend time with my friends who are mostly entrepreneurs, catch up and learn new developments in the world of business.
I have interest in social impacts and I am a board member of several organizations that champions for the right of underprivileged people in the society.
My company is currently operational in six countries including Kenya, Nepal, Dubai, Senegal and Swaziland. I look forward to diversify my portfolio and expand my niche.