Pelagie Mbabazi caught up with Aretha M. Rwagasore, the Communication and Marketing honcho at the Kenyan Commercial Bank. Below are the excerpts from the interview
Briefly tell us about yourself?
I am 29 and I was born in Bujumbura where I attended my primary and high school. I did my undergraduate degree at the School of Finance and Banking where I graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration & Major in Marketing.
In 2008, I undertook a diploma in Human Rights at Henry Dunant University College in Geneva, and in 2011 I enrolled for a Masters in International Communications at Hanze Groningen University in the Netherlands. I have three older sisters. My parents are the late Simeon Rwagasore and Esperance Kankindi.
What was your childhood dream? Are you living it?
At a younger age I admired lawyers. I thought their job was at the same time powerful and gratifying. My dad was one and he did very well. One day I told him I wanted to study Law but he said he thought I should consider studying economics as well. As time went on I found myself doing something quite different and you know how it works, you sometimes go with the flow.
What are challenges you meet in the position you are holding and how do you overcome them?
Working for KCB as the head of marketing and communications did not come on a silver platte. You need to work wisely and hard to achieve your goals as a company and as an individual. I love what I do, the environment is great and banking is the peak.
As many people know, marketing is considered both a science and an art. I would like to have more time to focus on strategy, brand positioning, research and being able to develop something out of the ordinary. There lays my challenge. But I guess that when you focus on one of the elements too much you lose out on the other.
On the other hand, I enjoy being able to do both marketing and public relations. The fact that the public relations industry is small and that it is not long ago that corporate companies started massively investing in advertising makes it more exciting because it is a growing field.
What impact has your position made in your life?
It has shaped me into who I am today. I worked for an embassy for four years before joining the bank. In between I did lots of other stuff like volunteering with NGOs like Hope Worldwide and Youth Action International, as well as interning with UNAIDS.
Because of my work experience I can meet complex issues head-on more, think outside the box and take up greater challenges. I am a confident person.
What do you think are the greatest challenges that Rwandan women face?
In one of the memoires I wrote I focused on the right to education of the young Rwandan girl. My case study was young girls in Kiramuruzi. I had a discussion with a bunch of girls. If all girls were put through school and instilled a passion for growth and success as well as taught from a young age that their mental capabilities are no different from those of their brothers, then they would be more determined.
I believe that men are the heads of households and that women should be submissive as per the Bible, nevertheless they should be given equal opportunities in everything, and if they excell they should be recognised.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I enjoy traveling, spending time with family, hanging out with friends, having productive discussions, watching movies, swimming, shopping, and researching on the Internet.
What is your current relationship status?
(Laughs) You really want to know? I am single (laughs)
What are your future plans?
First of all, I would love to have kids and raise them in the best possible environment. Secondly, I wouldn’t mind getting more exposure, training and learning opportunities to stay abreast with the trends.
Like everyone else, I would like to advance my career further and be the finest I could be. I would like to work in the region or the continent at some point.
But, overall, it is to be able to do something not just for myself but something with a higher impact and greater results for the community in which I live. Currently my work entails also conducting corporate social responsibility activities which I find extremely worthwhile.
What is your message to Rwandan women?
Pursue your dream. If you can’t see clearly seek advice but do your utmost to have a fulfilled life; that is what matters. Work harder to ensure you are always on top to set an example and impact our younger sisters.
Soak your feet, get a massage from time to time, laugh and do the things you love the most, its one life we’ve got! To single people out there, whoever meets you should find you already in high spirits; do not wait for someone else to start living your own life.