Started From The Bottom To Become Head of Procurement at Nairobi Serena Hotel. Meet Teresa

Teresa Heta Kamunge

 It's around 5.30pm when I meet 28 years old Trizah Heta Kamunge who is in the procurement industry. One thing is clear though,  she is excited about our meeting. She  says with an infectious smile, “This is my first interview ever,” adding that it feels good to have someone appreciate what she does for a living.

I meet her at her place of work, Nairobi Serena Hotel just off Central Park where she confesses that while she has a job which is of envy to many, like a lot of Kenyans working in any industry; it has been a long journey to be who she is today.

The mother of a 10 months old son tries to recall where it all began, “I grew up in Ruiru with a strict
dad who was about following rules and doing the right thing and somehow those traits rubbed off on me.”

Little did she know that due to her father’s influence, this would define her career path. She says. “I found myself in an industry which is all about doing much the same thing; planning and always making sure that you follow the rules to the t.”

With those traits already instilled in her through her upbringing Trizah says planning became her passion. “Even at a young age, I knew I had to do something in this line and that’s how I found myself in procurement.”

She narrates of how she started off her career with a diploma of the same from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) which she later upgraded with a Bachelor of Commerce in Procurement and Supply Chain Management from the University of Nairobi.

So did her career pick up right off after graduation?  She laughs at this and says, “No, not at all. Like a lot of people, I started off with a trainee position which could also pass as an internship at the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) where I would get Sh100 a day as my upkeep money”

And while Sh100 may not seem like much to graduates who leave campus with dreams of making it big instantly, she terms it as okay adding that, “no matter how little I got paid, I had to stick around and get the much needed hands on experience. In the process I learnt about what government procurement was all about.”

After her internship she ended up getting a job as a casual worker at Kenyatta University, Ruiru campus and just like many employees, Trizah’s dream of finding a better job never deemed as she continued to look for better opportunities.

She recalls that, “At one time I applied for a job with a leading cleaning services company in the country and also here (Serena) and luckily enough I got invited for an interview in both places.

With the former, they told me what most job seekers get to hear from employers after an interview which is, “we will get back to you insuch and such time,” which was something they never did.”

Being outright honest about how this made her feel, she says, “I felt something a lot of job seekers can identify with, frustration, since I thought I would get the job there and then.” To her rude shock, the same fate happened when she showed up at Serena for an interview. “They told me the same thing that the cleaning service company had told me, we will get back to you.”

Frustrated about hearing the same old, same old news, Trizah says she was surprised when she got a call from the hotel that very same evening after attending the interview informing her that she could start the job as a store keeper the following day.

But there’s something she will never forget, “I remember that on my first day at work, the supervisor told me that the following day I was the one in charge of the store since he was going to be absent.” Such news on such a short notice she says sent a ripple of panic in her, “but at least he taught me how things work around here and gave me the platform to ask questions if things were not clear and I can say I handled things pretty good.”

But that was ages ago, “Five years and 10 months to be precise,” confirms Trizah who has since been promoted to become the Head Store Keeper where she gets to be in charge of six people.

She says, “I have through the years grown from being a casual to being a mere store keeper to having a job title where my work now involves supervising the store, relieving the procurement officer, replenishing the stock of the hotel among other duties.

She attributes her success to having people within her family who have inspired her to grow and be better in life “Plus with a new family, one look at them and I am willing to climb mountains to better their lives. The 28 years old adds that she is planning to further her studies with an MBA in project management very soon.

And while her life may seem picture perfect she says, “True I am taken care of as far as job security is concerned, but just like every other job out there, mine too has its own pitfalls.” 

She says, “Hotel procurement is no joke especially when you are dealing with a busy 5 star. She explains that, “You order small amount of anything and it’s not enough, you are in trouble. “You order a lot and you are left with stock on your hands that also is disastrous.”

But through the years and through past mistakes,  she has successfully mastered the art of her job.

For a young woman who says being committed to ones career is important, she also adds that, “I think it’s important in whatever industry which you are in to have a social life as  this gives you balance in life. If you have a stressful job, go to the gym and try to shake some steam off.

She sums it up by saying that, “Internships whether paid or unpaid are important since they give one the chance to learn the loops in the industry they are in. Lastly and most importantly don’t look down on humble beginning, no matter how low you have to start at, there is always room to climb up the ladder."