Seeing him on television, I never thought, even in my wildest dreams, that I would one day come face to face with Dr Chris Kirubi. After all, how could our two paths cross and why would he be interested in me? We were worlds apart and the dream of meeting this iconic man of Africa remained just that, a dream. So I thought until one sunny afternoon in March 2014, I found myself sitting face to face with Dr Kirubi. Who said dreams don’t come true?
I had been contacted by Miriam Mukasa (MD, AfricaTalentbank.com (ATB)) and was asked to be on standby to join her at a meeting with Dr Kirubi, scheduled for later that week. Due to tight schedules, nothing was concrete except I had to be ready at a moment’s notice and so when the call came to head to town for 2pm that Thursday afternoon, I was ready. I joined Miriam Mukasa and Jerusha Wambui (ATB Alumni Brand Ambassador) and we headed to meet Dr Kirubi.
As we entered the flashy office suites at the heart of CBD, I had no idea of what I would say but all I knew was that once I came face to face with the great man himself, something would spring to mind. So, past the security detail, we travelled up the elevators and came to the reception desk.
As we waited to be called in, I sat nervously waiting and even as the three of us laughed and joked as we waited to be called in, I did not want to get my hopes too high. “This may well turn out to be another disappointing day Douglas,” I told myself – preparing for the worst as I knew how busy Dr Kirubi must be and knowing he had a plane to catch, that evening. However, 10% of hope is still hope and I clung to it.
All of a sudden, right before my very eyes, with little funfair and expectation, I saw a man whom I recognized as Dr Kirubi, standing in front of us, looking surprised. He had recognized Miriam Mukasa and led us to his office. I knew his diary was tight and so this meeting was one, I had to be ready for. I was about to be on “Prime Time” – there was no time to be nervous. I had to perform!
The meeting went very well and there are many memories from it that I will cherish. For a while, I thought I was dreaming. Here I was with Chris Kirubi discussing a matter of common interest (the youth). What amazed me most is the interest that Dr Kirubi takes in youth employment as well as the job opportunities that Chris Kirubi gives to the youth. In one of his departments, he employs over 150 young people; on average, he employs thousands of people in all his companies. The meeting was very interactive, and Dr Kirubi was very personable and engaging. I was thrown in at the deep end by Miriam Mukasa when she asked me to introduce myself to Chris Kirubi and to tell him more about myself. I did so and also took this opportunity to invite Dr Kirubi to speak at an ATB event we would be hosting soon. He agreed! WOW!!! I sat back and knew my work was done. Time to hand over to Jerusha.
I am also forgetting an interesting detail – as the meeting came to a close, Dr Kirubi offered to see us out. I left the office without his business card but after showing us around a department full of youths working and personally giving us a tour and introducing us to them, we were about to say our goodbyes when Dr Kirubi turned to me and asked: “Do you have my business card? I have your contacts but you do not have mine. Come back and pick some cards.” I could not believe it! I returned back to his office and met with his friendly staff where I was handed his lovely, black & gold embossed business card. What a day it was turning out to be! So, this is what networking and ATB can do for you, I thought to myself!
As I sit here this Sunday morning reflecting, I am thinking to myself, only forty eight hours before, I had been on TV for the first time and was interviewed by well-known TV stars and fast forward to 48 hours, I was sitting opposite Dr Chris Kirubi! What a week it turned out to be.