Patricia Ithau, managing director, L’Oréal East Africa, talks about who influenced her, how she made it to the top and what she loves – and hates – about doing business in Kenya.
Patricia Ithau, managing director, L’Oréal East Africa
1. What was your first job?
I was a clerk at a leading law firm in Kenya after finishing high school. I spent more time on my hands and knees stacking, sorting and searching for files. I was earning 1,500 shillings (US$18), and that was a lot of money as far as I was concerned.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
I have never thought about that. When I look at my career, there are women I admired for their tenacity. For example, when I first started working many years ago, I admired Rose Kimotho (media entrepreneur) for her tenacity and ambition. I tend to admire local people who have made a difference and try to get learnings from them.
3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
Performance. I think I have a pathological fear of failure. When I am not performing or things are not working, that keeps me awake at night.
4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?
I am a very determined and reliable person. I really believe in dependability and reliability. If you leave a task to me I will make sure it is done. When people are not reliable, I pull away from them. I also believe in humility and respect for all human beings.
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