Weekend with the CEO

Faith Wanderi’s secret talent and statement tattoo


Faith Wanderi Managing Director, East and West Africa for NielsenIQ. FILE PHOTO | POOL

Faith Wanderi arrives looking nothing like Faith Wanderi. She is in a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, and panache on her tongue and gusto in her gait, with the malandro charm of a Spanish matador, she has brought a gun, a knife, and a bazooka to a gunfight.

She looks like she could have walked straight out of T.D. Jake’s book: ‘Woman, Thou Art Loosed’. She is also eight minutes late—car trouble—but frankly if she told me her horses needed watering, I wouldn’t have minded.

Small in stature but gargantuan in personality—she is, hyperbole aside, what happens when you trap lightning in a bottle.

She won’t let anyone steal her thunder though. Now 44 and the Managing Director, of East and West Africa for NielsenIQ (a data and analytics company) in charge of 19 countries in the continent—her career has been built on audacity (or in industry terms, chutzpah).

Perhaps, ultimately, she is a Sagittarius au fond, doubtless in her beliefs, one founded not in what one can do with their skills, but what one can do with the self.

We meet over lunch at The Social House in Lavington, where delighting unashamedly in our epicurean appetites, our table is laden whet with a starry and scandalous array of meats and I can hear my cardiologist fumble with his invoice book—but no matter, because I can’t tell which is juicier, the meats or Faith’s stories which she recounts with paroxysms of melancholy, this Sagittarius.

But it sounds good. And bloody hell, it feels good.

That hat, are you a cowgirl?

No, I just have different types of hats. I am a lover of shoes—the Imelda Marcos of hats and shoes. I love accessories. I love being me.

What’s it like being you?

I am the firstborn of three. I grew up taking responsibility and caring for people. I am very loving and protective, a staunch Christian. I have a close-knit family and my parents are like my best friends.

My dad is my mentor and everything I do, I consult him. I am fun, I am spontaneous, I am Sagittarian but I love having fun with people I care about; but I am also guarded because I have been hurt before.

I am a mother of three—my son is 18, and I have twins—they are my confidantes. We talk about everything with them because that is the same way I was brought up. Have I mentioned that I am a giver?

How’s the air up there?

I tell people that at the top it is very lonely. You must deliver in terms of business objectives but you also have a team to take care of because you don’t know who to trust. It can get lonely.

Was there a point when as you broke the glass ceiling, the shards cut you?

Yes. This one time we developed a product and I took some shortcuts in terms of getting alignment. From a local perspective with the regional team, we agreed on the product and pursued it.

At the time of execution, we had a fallout—leading to a make-or-break point. We spent the whole night building my business case and justification.  Today it is one of the Nielsen products.

What’s your go-to travel destination?

Of the countries I have been to, I think I enjoyed Amsterdam. The diversity is unique and very cosmopolitan. They work hard and play hard.

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve received?

Funny enough I’ve never! I’ll tell you why. I was intentional in choosing my mentors. I have mentors in different spheres of life, from the corporate sphere to family matters.

You have to be intentional with the people you reach out to.

What is the dumbest thing you’ve spent money on?

A pair of very expensive shoes. Some designer pair…about $2,400 (about Sh 334,752).

What is an unusual habit you love?

Calling people late. I am nocturnal. My people know that I may just call them at 1 am.

Tell me about your weekends.

Heeee no! Haha!


Okay. I work hard from Monday to Thursday. Some Fridays though, I finish my meetings by 2 pm and I will have some plans with friends or family. I will let loose.

I go out and have fun. I play the piano—I was playing in a band at USIU. My house is full of music. My children play the piano too. I enjoy a good night out, but politely.

Saturday is errands day, which of course, comes with the motherhood territory. Sunday is for church, when, okay if, I wake up. It’s a habit I want to go back to. Will you write that?

I will put it in a manner Jesus will approve…

Okay. But I also love eating out.

When you think of the weekend what food comes to mind?

All the bad things. Fries. I am not a seafood person so I’ll do meats: chicken wings, steaks, pork chops. The meatier the better.

How do you keep all these plates in the air?

You have to be intentional. Monday to Thursday is my bonding time with my children. We talk a lot and I am there for them.

Don’t forget they are teenagers so they don’t really want me around. Weekends are mine just to blow off some steam and let loose. If they are free, they join me.

Do you have a special treat that you do just for yourself?

I love massages. Hot stone massages especially. I only go once a quarter though.

What’s the most trouble you’ve been in?

I was telling my mother a story and I mentioned something concerning her friend. She asked me whether I was saying she is also like that.

Look, I am very frank, so I told her the truth. She told me to get out of her car. But where was I to go from Nyali Bridge? I let her talk it out.

How are you like your mother?

We could be Siamese twins! One, she is a true leader. And like her, I can’t sit still. I am always up and about, working or doing things.

She taught me how to do business on the side. She is also very loyal and loving—but protective and firm. She is my best friend, we talk about anything and everything.

What’s on your bucket list?

Bungee jumping, sky diving and I have to go to Bali. And oh, Jamaica. You need to go to Jamaica. Everyone needs to go to Jamaica.

What’s a secret talent that you have and no one knows?

I like interior design. I like putting things together. I should do something about it. I keep saying that.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done?

Missing my flight intentionally to join a group of friends who were travelling by car.

What’s the soundtrack of your life right now?

[proceeds to sing several songs] [Tabitha, her director of communications, chimes in and says it is a Burna Boy song. Faith rejects, vehemently.] [nanaaa nanan nanana naaa…] Okay the song I like playing is Nara Ekele by Travis Greene.

What’s your superpower?

Connecting people. And getting things done, no matter what.

What are the things you hold true?

When people show you who they are, believe them. Faith, hope, and love. I even have a tattoo of the same. Let me show you. [proceeds to show me]

Do you have a weekend hack that can make my weekends better?

A glass of wine with a nice book. Preferably next to the pool. Or ocean. But I love movies, and especially a good romantic series.

I am a hopeless romantic, my friends do not like it when I touch their Netflix accounts. I will spoil their algorithms. I love drama.

Are you happy?

Very happy! Come to think of it, it will take a lot to piss me off. You know I am a Sagittarian; I never had the aha moment that hey, I am finally happy. But in the last few years, I have been very happy.

Who do you know that I should know?

You need to know my father. You will get a lot of inspiration and he will guide you along the Christian faith.

And he has been a businessman for many years so he knows the highs and lows. He will give you sound advice.

What do you think your dad says about you?

That’s my daughter, my firstborn. She’s loving, she is opinionated—about certain things, not everything. But she’s very loving and giving.

→ [email protected]


Source link

(This article is generated through the syndicated feed sources, Financetin doesn’t own any part of this article)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *