PROFILE: Meet Ruth Musembi, public relations guru with a knack for spotting talent
Ruth Musembi is an accomplished Corporate Communication Expert, a proficient educator, and a certified coach.
She has been an adjunct faculty at Daystar University since 2002, and later at Moi University. She currently facilitates executive programs at Daystar University and the University of Nairobi (UK Chartered Institute of PR). She is also a Consultant trainer for PRSK, and an ordained pastor.
Ruth Musembi describes herself as a natural leader on a mission to affirm and inspire people to be and do their very best. Awesome right? This is how you know that she has found her purpose in life and is ready to live it to her best.
Ruth started her career path in academia; teaching in high school for two years, then moved to a teacher training college. After three years, she transitioned to the corporate world and is now CEO of her organisation.
“I still have my eyes set on more heights to scale. I believe that I have the solution to a nagging problem somewhere. Right now, what makes my heart sing is to use communication as a tool to solve business problems.”
Since 2004, Ruth Musembi has helped establish and run Corporate Communication departments in two government parastatals in Kenya.
She positioned both organisations from unknown entities to household brands. She has had the privilege of representing these organisations locally and internationally, including in the USA, UK, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and China on several occasions.
In 2017, Ruth Musembi founded SealComm Consulting Limited. “In response to a constant complaint by business leaders about poor employee productivity, we designed a 90-Day Challenge that includes culture and communication audits, training, coaching, and designing high-performance cultures.”
SealComm Consulting Limited is essentially disrupting the way corporate communication is viewed. So far, Ruth Musembi describes the feedback she has received from the leaders she has worked with as phenomenal.
“Many of the leaders say that SealComm has inspired average employees to become star performers.” We also offer other services including crisis communication and media training, change communication, PR services, CSR & sustainability, customer and employee surveys, production of short video clips, and content writing for blogs and e-newsletters.
As a trainer, Ruth Musembi is privileged to have taught and trained many corporate communication practitioners, some of whom have become her business associates.
Using your title as a Certified Coach, you run a program known as ‘Finishing School’. Please tell us your inspiration behind this program and whom does it benefit?
I focus on transition coaching- to help people move from one phase of life or career to another with ease and minimal disruptions. The Finishing School is one of our Transition Coaching programs. It equips young people with productivity skills and soft skills.
And in line with my mission, I now run the Young Wives Academy (YWA) to affirm and inspire young wives to be their very best and do the very best for themselves, their marriages, their families, and their community.
You have served in various boards in Government and in your private practice as a PR Professional. Please tell us about some of your contributions that you are most proud of.
In 2019, I was part of the National Taskforce appointed by the CS of the Ministry of ICT Joe Mucheru to advise him on improving government communication.
We developed an excellent government communication blueprint that, if implemented, will drastically change the way the government of Kenya communicates. This includes how GoK listens, engages, and interfaces with its citizenry and with other nations.
In 2013 I was recognised by PRSK as an outstanding member and was conferred the Golden Honours Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I served as a judge for the PRSK excellence awards for three consecutive years between 2017 and 2019, culminating my service as the Chief Judge. And in August 2019 PRSK admitted me to the College of Fellows, the highest honour for PR and Communication Management practitioners in Kenya.”
You are a woman in a C-suite position as the Chief Executive Officer in your organisation. Seal Communication Consulting Firm, tell us about some tips that are useful for women as we climb the career ladder.
Here are some of the lessons I have learnt over time.
• Wear confidence like a jacket. If there is one thing that has opened huge doors for me in employment and the consulting world, I would say, it is my confidence. And one can only be confident if they know their stuff. Hence, I want women to own their game and be confident. We shortchange ourselves when we second guess our capabilities. We have what it takes!
• Be a go-getter; ambition is your friend. I am incredibly ambitious. Starting as a high school teacher, heading communication departments, teaching at the university and now as the CEO of my company. You can become anything you set your eyes on. Never settle for less than you believe you can achieve. Be careful about people determining how far you can go. Identify a real need, make it your niche and run with it.
• Have a solid WHY. To succeed in life, you need laser-sharp clarity on why you are doing what you are doing. This sense of purpose is what keeps me going even when results take longer than anticipated. Your WHY keeps you grounded.
• Better your best. There is no substitute for excellence. Whatever it takes to bring your “A” game, do it. Here, there are no short cuts; if you don’t take time to sharpen your skills and perfect your game, it will show in the quality of your work! Make excellence your daily dose.
• Keep things simple. Simplicity is the highest form of sophistication. But to simplify things, one must understand them so well to distil them into their most salient parts. And when you simplify things, people get it! I have been told repeatedly that I make things seem so simple, so effortless, and so easy to understand. This is because I have learnt the art of simplicity.
• Continuous improvement. I keep honing my skills, and in return, big doors keep opening right before my eyes! My skills set, my confidence, and my passion for excellence are my three greatest assets. Keep growing, the day you stop learning, you mark and end to your effectiveness. So keep learning at all cost.
• Be your own cheerleader. If you do a good job, celebrate yourself, don’t wait to be celebrated. When you hit a target or a milestone, please find a way to gift yourself and do it in big and small ways, it indeed works wonders! Let others’ recognition be an icing on the cake.
• Plan for balance. Never allow the responsibilities of motherhood to hinder your career. As a manager at the height of my childbearing years, I never missed work because of household chores.
How did you manage? Many women are struggling to strike a balance between marriage or motherhood and keeping their career. What is the secret?
I had backup plans for everything; a backup house manager, a backup reliable taxi driver and my siblings were always on standby.
I strived to employ a very mature house manager whom I empowered to act. If a medical emergency occurred while I was on duty, she would call the taxi driver and inform me they were leaving for the hospital.
I would then catch up with them at the hospital. If I was out of town, I would ask a trusted family member to meet them there. And to motivate my house manager, I always paid her slightly higher than the prevailing rates. I tell career women that motherhood and career can co-exist with a bit of thoughtful planning and sacrifice.
With so many accomplishments under your belt, what two values are most important to you; that you live by and shape how you work, live, and run your organisation?
Authenticity and Excellence. I am genuine, reliable, and faithful to every assignment I undertake. I execute my work with utmost excellence, continually giving my best. I don’t compete with others; I compete with my previous best performance. I am my own competition.
My ambassadorial appointment as a representative of the Kingdom of God gives me great perspective and keeps me grounded. I am a steward of the capabilities God has given me so that I may make a difference in people’s lives. Daily, I think of my impact both in the marketplace and in the church where I serve as an ordained pastor.
How do you describe yourself, and what is your leadership style?
I am a connector, an advisor, and a people-developer. I have always used a strengths-based leadership style which I call the ‘fish in water’ style. I easily spot people’s areas of excellence and allow them to excel in doing what comes naturally to them.
And indeed, those who know Ruth Musembi described her as an extremely confident and inspirational go-getter who expects excellence, yet makes people feel safe and validated.
Ruth and I share a number of groups including the PRSK platforms and the Network for Women in Media and PR and yes, her presence there is of great value. We appreciate your wise counsel and words of wisdom.
Did you have a chance to create a totally new world for young people what would she wish for their new world?
• A world where people seal their communication with excellence. If we get our communication right, we will live harmoniously and enjoy our stay in this world.
• A purpose-driven world where everyone has crystal clarity of the difference they ought to make and where success is defined by impact and fulfilment, not just money.
• A world where everyone has an entrepreneurial mindset – whether in business or employment. This is because entrepreneurship is about value creation, problem-solving and excellent customer service; a world where employees work as intrapreneurs.
Patience Nyange is a Chevening Scholar with a Masters Degree in International Public Relations and Global Communication Management from Cardiff University. Prior to joining Cardiff University, Patience served as an Assistant Director at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).