A young and ambitious engineer with a big heart strikes the right chord with her team members and employer
By George Gichuki
She walks with a firm stride and her head held high. Her eyes and the smile she flashes radiate certain warmth in the room. She carries herself with a feminine aura; it’s hard not to notice her presence. Don’t get me wrong, she isn’t loud at all but she has this magnetic pull to her. She commands attention through her actions, even I had to turn and see the powerhouse who has just graced us with her presence.
Don’t get me started on how passionately she talks, every word she utters is clearly well thought of. I don’t know your views, but I love a calm collected lady with a fountain of knowledge oozing out of her. I’m sure you are all wondering who I’m talking about. I won’t keep you waiting but first I must admit, getting to have a chat with her was truly inspiring.
Meet Shalom Chemase, a graduate from Moi University. She graduated in December last year with a degree in electrical and telecommunications engineering. While scrolling through her social media feed, a certain advert caught her eye. Adrian Group was calling out for applications from young women who were inspired by technology.
Chemase couldn’t help but thank her lucky stars because this was the perfect fit for her. She immediately dropped her application leaving the rest to fate. After two weeks of anxiously waiting, she received a message informing her that her name had been shortlisted.
Chemase went for the interview feeling confident and armed with her best tool; knowledge. Her lucky stars did not let her down as she received a call informing her that she had passed the interview.
She says: “By virtue of the course I had undertaken, it was a perfect fit for me and I was glad that I had secured a position in the company.” After the interview, those who had passed were called for the orientation. They were asked to spare a month because they were to undergo an intensive training programme. This programme was conducted at the Kenya School of Government located in Lower Kabete. It came at a perfect time for Chemase because she was transitioning from the university into the job market. In as much as the programme was to prepare the young graduates for their jobs, they also got personal development. Adrian Group brought in speakers from Rebranding Minds Africa and Ungwana as well as leading ICT professionals.
“I like creating solutions rather than waiting for someone else to provide them to me,” Chemase says. After completing her high school examination, she applied to study engineering and thanks to her good performance, she joined the school of engineering at Moi University. She had a special interest in engineering because it helps people to be innovative and to create solutions. “Engineering has helped improve the way of life – talk about fibre optic for instance; without good connectivity a lot of businesses would not perform well,” the young graduate observes.
Women and STEM subjects
It is common knowledge that women shy away from science subjects and mathematics. It’s not as if boys were gifted more than girls in that area. So why is it that there are fewer females compared to males in professions such as engineering? Shalom says that it all comes down to culture. “Where I come from, we are not exposed to the jobs that are traditionally meant for men,” she expresses.
Moreover, she goes on to say that she would like all young girls to appreciate that engineering is a beautiful and prestigious career. Women can equally excel in it as men do because it is not as difficult as people paint it to be. The managing director at Adrian Kenya, Mr. Bernard Njoroge facilitated the one-month training programme. He did not know any of the successful applicants before hand, yet he took it upon himself to nurture the potential he saw in them.
He kept telling them that by doing something continuously, it becomes a habit. The training sessions inspired and opened up their minds. Additionally, she notes: “During the training, we were taught to create solutions for ourselves and to be self starters who are inspired from within.”
After the training ended, a graduation ceremony was held. Ms. Sylvia Mulinge, Safaricom’s chief customer officer graced the event. The participants were issued with certificates and then officially commenced their work at Adrian Kenya.
Transition from training to employment
The work began by splitting the graduates into groups of four. Shalom was placed in the fibre division because as she puts it; she loves everything to do with fibre. The mandate of her group is to make Adrian known especially in the non-traditional markets. With a background in engineering, she is able to articulate the fibre story well.
Fibre has revolutionized the ICT sector and those who use it can attest to that. As the team leader, she coordinates the group’s activities, creates various solutions and assists in branding the company as a whole. She ensures that the team is on time when it comes to submitting its projects and proposals. Most importantly, she motivates the team so that it can meet its objectives.
“I regard myself a proactive person and a self-starter. I think the other members saw that in me and that is why they chose me as their leader,” she says. She emphasizes that she is a team player who coordinates people in a good manner after taking time to understand their personalities.
Chemase advises young ladies that engineering is not a men only profession and they should kill that notion completely in their minds. She encourages them to go for it because she has seen women who have and are excelling in the profession.
Moreover, she stresses that they should remain focused and read a lot because the profession requires one to be very knowledgeable and at par with the ever changing world of technology.
“They should work on being part of the solution rather than waiting for solutions to be provided for them. They should also give a deaf ear to people who tell them that it’s a hard course,” she adds. She goes on to say that when young girls are mentored, they’ll make better choices. Mentorship is something she is planning to do back home.
In the next five to ten years, she is hoping to become a consultant. Being at Adrian – a fast growing company – has given her an opportunity to grow professionally.
A day in her life
Chemase loves writing about travel, business and technology. Her favourite cuisine is fermented milk (mursik) peas, vegetables and rice. She hilariously says that if she is given that, any day and time, she would enjoy it very much. Her day starts at 6 o’clock in the morning. She is a Christian and the first thing she does in the morning is to pray.
She then proceeds to take a shower and get dressed. She has sticky notes on her dressing mirror which she reads loudly while preparing for the day. Each day she has something to read on the mirror, either a quote or a memory verse. She then takes breakfast which usually comprises tea and two bananas. On her way to work, she listens to music or at times, reads a digital book.
Currently she is reading ‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah. It’s an autobiography which is very interesting. When she gets to the office, as a team leader, she ensures that the agenda of the previous day has been achieved before setting a new one. At close of business, the team members review what they have accomplished for the day and set new targets for the next one.
“By mentoring young ladies before exposing them
to the job market, Adrian Group is doing a very commendable job,” says Chemase.
It is her wish that other organizations in the country can follow suit