With the pandemic, you must aim to be two steps ahead

With the pandemic, you must aim to be two steps ahead
Photo credit: Pool

Daisy Okoti

Faith has over 10 years of experience in the finance and technology fields. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychology and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and sits on various Boards, including the Women on Boards Network.

Why was getting a Master’s degree important to you?
I got into leadership when I was young, aged 28. My first managerial role was in a bank where I managed 27 people across different branches. While I had mentors I could learn from, to understand my leadership style, people and customers I was dealing with, I had to go back to school, and I chose to specialise in psychology. The course made me more self-aware. After my Master’s, I took four more executive courses at Yale University and University of California, Berkeley.

To what extent did you pre-plan your career?
In my third year of university, I had a short stint as a radio and TV presenter which made me think I was destined to work in the media, and perhaps start my own media house. When I completed school, I got a job with a security firm, where I worked in many departments. That role helped me grow in self-confidence.
At that time, I had vowed never to work in a bank because I thought it would be too boring, but I took a job in a local bank! By the time I was on my second banking role, I knew the world was going digital so I purposed to get into that space.

I was intentional when networking and what I was reading during my free time. I was curious about new technologies and I wanted to become a fintech expert. Where you start may not have been in your plans, but things become clearer as you continue identifying your strengths and carving your future.

What do you consider the biggest misconception of “the digital age”?
The assumption that it is a male-dominated space. Secondly, there is limited understanding of the field, so college students aren’t aware of the courses they need to take. It helps if you are curious and have the right attitude to learn and grow.

Are there books or individuals who influenced your career?
Fortunately, I have bosses who mentored me and helped open doors. My husband has been a fantastic mentor too and influenced my leadership style. It is also important to have people in your corner who can speak for you when you are not in the room. The book of Samuel and Proverbs in the Bible applies to my day-to-day life. Small Giants: Companies that Choose to be Great by Bo Burlingham and The Big Deal, Sunny Bindra, challenge my attitude towards leadership. I often re-read these books.

What is the most exciting thing about your current position?
My role is dynamic, cutting across sectors and enterprises. Secondly, majority of our staff are aged between 28 and 32, from across the world, and this diverse working environment excites me.

What advice would you give to a young finance professional?
You must be two steps ahead. The Covid-19 season has showed us that clearly. Keep abreast with what is happening in your field, and in organisations around the globe. Be courageous – the big league is available to you too. And you don't have to tick every box of a job requirement before you apply for it. If all else fails, remember that you can create your own initiative.

What are some valuable habits you picked during your undergraduate years?
While in university, I was studying for my undergraduate degree, taking my CPA courses, working at a media house and also doing an internship at the same time. Any time I feel overwhelmed or lacking in time, I remember that period. It set me up to be an overachiever.

Does your organisation offer internships to university students? 
Yes, in all departments. Internships could lead to more if you have the right attitude and perform your tasks properly. Check our website regularly for new internship opportunities.

What’s your life mantra?
Do one thing that scares you every day, because what you want to achieve is often on the other side of fear.

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