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Valerie Waweru- Operations Manager

Valerie; ‘I worked for Nailab, quit and then I came back’

How would you describe Valerie?

It has been said Valerie is a no-nonsense person; guess this is true :-) . I am also introverted, very structured and methodical. I am currently learning how to smile with other people as I often appear standoffish and people find it hard to approach me. I am a pretty warm person once you get to know me.

So what inspires Valerie to get out of bed every morning?

3 things; Goal, Purpose and looking forward to the day’s challenge. I hate doing the same thing everyday, so I am constantly rising to a new challenge all the time. Everyday provides a new opportunity to be impactful to the organisation I work for, my team, and my loved ones.

Being a no-nonsense person, I imagine you are very uptight what are some of the things that you do for fun?

I am family oriented. Fun for me is either in the evenings or weekends. I spend that time hanging out with family, my niece brings loads of joy to me, I love babysitting or I take my grandparents out for lunch. I also love reading, rugby, F1, travelling and I enjoy experiencing different cultures and making new dishes from the various cultures that I interact with.

How did you end up at Nailab?

It’s a long story to be honest. I have been a friend of Nailab since inception and that is because I know Sam on a personal level. The first time I found myself at Nailab was probably 2 or 3 years after they set up but it wasn’t a job, I came in to assist Sam with research for a system he was setting up. Sadly it did not take off. I left Nailab and went to pursue my studies. I reached out to Sam again in 2017 to see if I could get an opportunity to work for Nailab but there were no open positions however, he encouraged me to keep checking in case anything comes up. A job opened up for a Communications assistant, it was an internship. I applied, went for the interview and I got the job. I started off as an unpaid intern for 6 months. After the six months the department had become so streamlined and there was no work for me, luckily an opportunity opened up in the projects department for another 2 months, after which I resigned.

One day I was at Java waiting for a friend and as I was going through twitter I saw a job post and as I read through the job description it sounded so much like me, so I applied for the job without knowing it was Nailab, you can imagine my surprise when I got an email from Nailab asking me to send my CV for an application I had made. I was hesitant to send my CV but I did it anyway and I was called for an interview. I did four interviews in a span of a week and I qualified. My last interview was with Sam and one of the toughest questions he asked me was why I wanted to come back and that was my light bulb moment when I realised that the role I was coming back to take up would be challenging and exciting. I got the job and that is how I found myself back to Nailab.

Tell me a bit about your Education background and how it ties in with your role at Nailab.

The truth is that my education background has got nothing to do with my work at Nailab. I studied BA in community development in Daystar and later joined USIU where I did a bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a focus in developmental studies. I chose that course because I felt I needed to do something that is close to my first degree and my 7 years work experience in the NGO world. I have always had a passion for people, understanding them, building teams and systems that work that is how I ended up doing operations. I also like fixing things, I am yet to meet a challenge that cannot be fixed.

Being a team leader, what do you love most about your team?

The team dynamics. We are a small team but we are so diverse. Seeing people grow as individuals and how it feeds into the success of the business is what I love most. I have also learnt not to constrain people but to let them fly because I believe if people excel as individuals they eventually give back to the company and that enables us to grow.

What are some of the lessons that you have picked up with your time here at Nailab?

That sometimes it is important to learn how to colour outside of the box and not just think of a situation in the four little corners of the box. Some situations warrant you to think differently. I have also come to realise that employees are a company’s greatest asset so it is important to make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.

What is the one thing that guides you and encourages you to keep fighting even when you want to give up.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD . “They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. I am not a religious person but I am very spiritual.

What would you like to tell your team as we conclude this interview?

To Keep going, keep growing and keep challenging yourself and if you ever grow beyond the vision, the mission of Nailab, do not be afraid to ask for a new challenge. If a new challenge has not been presented to you, do not be afraid to move outside and look for it. Nailab will always have an open door and you are always welcome to come back.

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Nailab is an accelerator that offers a “Launch out” program for entrepreneurs and “Launch in” program for those seeking employability.

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