Hamjambo, marafiki! (Hello, my friends!)
The past couple of weeks in Kenya have been pretty incredible. The Kellogg fellows have done a lot of trips out into the Kenyan countryside, including a visit to Karen, where we visited an elephant orphanage and giraffe park, as well as Lake Naivasha, where we did a pretty aggressive climb called Hell’s Gate and were out in the open with different wildlife. This past weekend, we all took a trip over to Rwanda to experience a new country – one that I have been dying to visit for several years now.
Rwanda was such an aesthetically beautiful place with tons of dormant volcanoes and hills that are now used for farming. No wonder it’s called “The Land of a Thousand Hills”- I think we counted more than a thousand just in our weekend there! That said, I experienced parts of the country, like the Genocide Memorial, with a very heavy heart, given the atrocities that took place in Rwanda even in very recent years. The highlight of the weekend was the golden monkey tracking hike that we did at Volcanoes National Park that shares a border with both Uganda and the DRC. So much fun, and felt so great to be active and outdoors – check out a few of our photos!
Work is going well. I’m finally feeling acclimated and have my role carved out in a way where I know exactly what I need to be working on when I walk into the office at 7:55am each morning. One major work stream is the establishment of Virtual City’s distribution channels – mostly in the form of strategic partnerships with large mobile money operators, banks, and global MNCs. The second major work stream is around change management, and getting the Virtual City team of 85 people to adopt a stronger sales culture. While I don’t think they’ll ever really be “salesy”, the starting point is a team of incredible engineers that are accustomed to creating beautiful UI – and letting it sit there. So a “sales mentality” in this sense means adopting a stronger degree of comfort in demonstrating the solution’s functionality to potential clients, speaking through the value it will add to SMEs and understanding how to customize technical requirements based off the customer needs. One part of that is creating the tools and sales management protocols to create an infrastructure where people feel comfortable embracing sales, so I am just beginning the process of interviewing potential new team members to help strengthen this change.
I am also starting to feel like I have real friends in Kenya outside of the fellow group, which has been nice, and has made the evenings something to look forward to as well. Everyone has such an interesting story, and it makes for incredibly worthwhile dinner conversation over a random variety of cuisines – check out a few pictures below from a friend’s birthday dinner we held last week. Nairobi really does attract a ton of different types of people, but most of them are interested in pursuing a career in the social enterprise or tech innovation scene long term.
We have a dinner planned with Kellogg alums in the area tomorrow evening, and we’ll be sure to check back in soon!