Kagure Wamunyu is the Chief Strategy Officer at Kobo360, a Nigerian founded tech-enabled digital logistics platform that connects truckers and companies to delivery services. Aged 31, Wamunyu is in charge of strategy and execution for growth in all Kobo markets from her base in Nairobi – a position she assumed after serving as the Kobo360 CEO of Africa Region.
Her interests in the transport sector started back in her school days prompting her to pursue a Civil Engineering degree focused on Transport Engineering from North Carolina State and a BA in Mathematics from Meredith College. She further went to pursue a Masters in City Planning with a focus on transportation from UC Berkeley.
“My passion for transport began during my school days. I always wanted to be involved in the movement of people and goods as well as being involved with change-makers that will develop transportation systems within Africa.”
Her career quickly took off when she joined Uber as the first hire in Kenya; a spot she advanced in to eventually become the Country Manager for the ride-hailing company. Wamunyu has also previously served as the Senior Director of Strategy at Bridge International Academies, developing public, private and strategic partnerships in East Africa.
Despite the odds that are stacked up against young women in the continent, Wamunyu has gone beyond and broken the glass ceilings paving the way and becoming an inspiration for other young women within the STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.
“I grew up in Nairobi, in a family of 3 kids. My parents always encouraged me to go for what I wanted and this made me grow up to be the confident woman that I am today.”
For this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) Kagure Wamunyu shares an exclusive with Founder360°on her journey and valuable nuggets of wisdom other young women can learn.
What do you think has contributed to getting you to where you are now, more so as a young African woman?
My main focus within any project that I am a part of is to create impact. I am a doer and problem solver, I focus on execution. Especially as a woman in Africa, we have to work extra hard to rise through the ranks and that means standing out among the crowd.
As a leader with a team under you, what are some of the leadership blind spots you have faced and how do (did) you overcome them?
I have learnt that you cannot do everything alone, leaders need to learn how to delegate tasks. This means knowing when to pass on that speaking opportunity, or that interview or meeting to a colleague within the team. I have also learnt never to avoid conflict. Facing conflict head-on can show strength and confidence especially when issues are resolved quickly.
Facing conflict head-on can show strength and confidence especially when issues are resolved quickly. #InternationalWomensDay
What are some of the actionable steps one can use to make their personal professional profile be heard/known?
The tech industry, especially in Africa, is small. Always give your best and execute. It builds a reputation that keeps growing. Pick something and get good at it through either taking lessons, teaching oneself, practice and own it as your area of expertise.
What kind of strategies do you use to move forward when you experience a setback? How do you stay afloat?
When a setback happens the most important thing for me is that we can find a solution and move on quickly. As a team, we always take some time to reflect and then discuss what can be done better and key learnings for the future. Failure is a part of the process and it helps so that you can evaluate and improve for next time.
Read: This 20-Year-Old Kenyan Entrepreneur is Building an Organic Cosmetic Premium Brand While Pursuing a Law Degree
What are your hidden inspiration sources? What best motivates you?
I read a lot of books and newspapers where I get inspiration from. I am also inspired by the tech teams at Kobo360, young people with a lot of drive and results to back it up.
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook is another inspiration of mine. She is not only the current leader of one of the largest technology companies in the world but is also an advocate for women in technology who is passionate about the importance of being involved as well as how you can be involved.
What more do you think can be done on the current women-focused programs on the continent touching on education, careers and entrepreneurs to encourage more women into becoming proactive?
Women do not lack ambition and drive, the real question is if they are given the opportunities. There are a lot of women out there who are highly educated, driven and hungry but are not being given the right opportunities that they deserve.
Within the last year, we have seen a few more women take up positions in Kenyan boardrooms however it is still highly male-dominated. There is definitely more room for women sitting in these boardrooms, making key decisions.
I think women in top positions in business are the best advocates to encourage other women to be more proactive. Meritocracy is hugely important to show women can also hold the same positions as men whether as founders or in top C-level positions in business. That being said, I do believe there’s a need for systems in place to accelerate women who are being overlooked for certain promotions or in the decision-making process in the workplace. This is how we can move forward!
I think women in top positions in business are the best advocates to encourage other women to be more proactive. #InternationalWomensDay
Is there any special way you are planning to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day? And what message would you have for young women who aspire to be like you someday?
As International Women’s Day is a Sunday, I will be celebrating by reading a book by a female icon at my coffee shop in Nairobi, Lava Latte.
I would like to tell other young women to make an impact wherever they are. Keep doing whatever makes you stand out from the crowd, be consistent and make sure you are adding value. The value you provide and the consistency at which you do it, is what will take you to higher places.
Are there any missed opportunities that you wish to have leveraged?
I wish I had continued to take my Mandarin classes. This would have come in handy in my line of work.
Top 3 websites/Apps that you can’t imagine your day without?
Whatsapp, Google Drive and Google Calendar.
If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?
A Transport Nerd’s Dream for Africa.