Ruth Nduta is the Group Marketing and Communications Manager at Siginon Group. Whilst most of us try to separate work and life in our pursuit of balance, Ruth shares how she was able to rather integrate the two particularly as the world embraces the WFH narrative. Sounds like she has the recipe for success! Read more about her on this segment of Women In Marketing
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, RUTH. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES OF GROWING UP?
I was born and bred in Nairobi, Kenya. I grew up in a tight-knit family of 5 children (4 sisters and 1 brother). I happen to be the last born.
My memories of days gone are full of family-related events, church and school. So basically, fun, prayer and learning. Living this way has continued to create a good balance in my life to maintain focus on growth, being curious and also drawing strength from my family and God.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
High school was a whiz; those four years flew past too fast.
College years came with a certain pressure to define my identity and life’s purpose. It became important to me to achieve my goals. I appreciated the laid-back atmosphere that focused more on applying the lesson versus cramming books for exams which felt like was the case in primary/high school.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Ugali, Nyama Choma and Kachumbari with fresh passion or tamarind juice.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Travel the world with my family.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, ANASTASIA HAMEL SAYS THAT SHE CAN BREATHE FIRE!
In times of crisis, I’m likely to be the calmest person in the room!
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
I came across a media interview of a brand manager back in the day. In this interview, she would refer to the FMCG brand as ‘baby’ and the extent she’d go to make sure ‘her baby’ looked good, had a good reputation and everyone liked the baby. And this piqued my curiosity about pursuing a marketing career.
I must say a lot has changed since those days, but the dynamics of the Marketing profession continue to appeal to me to keep true to the principles.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK AT HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I double hat in my role in both Marketing and Communications.
Therefore, my day starts with scouring for news updates across multiple digital platforms followed by a strong #Teamcoffee to jump-start my day. Where possible, I’ll sneak in a workout or start my day with some upbeat music.
The rest of the day will usually consist of aligning activities to the business strategy, engaging with third parties, internal meetings and scoping the market for new ideas. My days are rarely routine.
THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I understand that integrating both my work and life makes it easier to thrive. Doing this helps me take each opportunity to learn or do something that will develop my work, life or both. Quickly embracing the change that COVID-19 has brought about has allowed me to suffer less anxiety. I can challenge myself to do more despite the pandemic ‘noise’ and look we survived!
The Work From Home (WFH) regimen has also got my creative juices at an all-time high; I’ve also gained the clarity to work on being more purposeful in life, I am exploring all sorts of new hobbies, some for keeps – it’s exciting.. This goes with a constant reminder to myself that thriving beyond this and any other disruptions is where the sweet spot lies.
YOU HAVE A MBA IN STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI. TERTIARY EDUCATION, AS WE KNOW IT, TOOK A DRAMATIC TURN DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW DO YOU FORESEE THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION CONSIDERING THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF ONLINE EDUCATIONAL SITES SUCH AS COURSERA AND GOOGLE SKILLSHOP THAT HAVE DISRUPTED THE TRADITIONAL MODEL OF LEARNING?
Education institutions will now need to be more creative with their programs, particularly in the method of delivery of those programs. Embracing new ways of thinking coupled with relevance to the market needs will save them from being obsolete. Online courses and on-demand programs with content relevant to the current environment make more sense now than before.
WORKING FROM HOME/HYBRID MODEL OF WORKING MAY SOON BECOME A REALITY FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS GLOBALLY. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON REMOTE WORK AND WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES AS WELL AS WAYS YOU’VE MITIGATED THESE?
Presently, the new ways of working demand a certain amount of self-discipline. Creating a small office/area (that is without distractions and interruptions) will ensure that you immerse yourself into the task at hand.
Should cabin fever apply, identifying conducive public places – cafes, libraries, and the club could suffice. I have surprised myself at being able to manage the new normal at home whilst feeling connected to colleagues in the office as well as getting great remote support where necessary to continue playing my role. Inspite of this new way of working, I’ve led the organization to achieve multiple awards, pass various milestones and still remain focused on keeping my KPIs on point. Dropping the ball is not an option.
ACCORDING TO A REPORT COMPILED BY MCKINSEY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. THE REPORT FURTHER ILLUSTRATES THAT WOMEN HAVE INCREASINGLY BECOME MORE EXHAUSTED AND SUFFER FROM BURNOUT AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AS WELL AS MOTHERS?
Exhaustion and burnout are the likely consequences amongst women due to the delicate balance that has emerged with most households working/schooling remotely. As a result, most women now feel the weight of running their home and child care and working concurrently.
This double burden, unfortunately, exerts immense pressure as it often lands squarely on the woman’s lap. Employee wellness programs are now more than ever key to managing the welfare of staff and tackling these and other emerging issues such as; mental health issues, domestic violence, depression and anxiety.
My go to solution is to be clear on the priorities, the urgent and important and those can be delegated to ensure focus on the main things. Remember to clock out and refresh yourself. I also insist on keeping personal support systems tight, despite the social distance, to provide some sense of relief and freshness from the pressures of this new normal.
2022 AND BEYOND
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC? ANY PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
The unpredictability of the pandemic brought about personal reflections. Both on my current position in life and the aspirational goals I need to achieve. I have focused on concretising plans to achieve these goals and define my success and work towards it. I have sharpened and developed new skills, embraced new mentors and definitely stretched myself to a discomfort zone.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
So long as you are still breathing, you can start again anytime – even now!
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Be bolder and travel more!
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
Without a doubt, my mother – Alice Njeri Mwangi! Then Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Michelle Obama.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I’m a sporadic reader. Depending on my mood and need, I vary from self-help to fiction. Most of my books are e-readers. Currently, I’m reading ‘Hands-free life‘ by Rachel Macy Staford and John Grisham’s ‘Camino Island‘.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
How to become a tyrant!
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
Not at all! I think I’m right where I should be.
WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW FORBES CURATES THEIR MARKETING-CENTRIC CONTENT. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO READ THROUGH THEIR CMO NEXT 2021 FEATURE? WHILST ON THE TOPIC OF GREAT MARKETERS, WHEN YOU RETIRE ONE DAY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED AS A PROFESSIONAL?
The problem solver.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Every day comes with new lessons, never stop learning and ask questions. It all comes together in the end.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME RUTH. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Click here to visit my LinkedIn profile.
Follow Siginon Group here.