Career advice

growth mindset

Growth Mindset – Five Steps to Building One for Business

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One of my colleagues recently made a statement which stirred my thinking about building a growth mindset: “Paul, if you think you can, then you can, and if you think you can’t, then you can’t.” For a moment, I was taken aback by these words which got me wondering, “am I in a prison of my own identity held captive by my own creation?”

These thoughts led me to research more on how human beings are wired, and what makes some people more successful than others in similar circumstances. I realized that our mindset plays a huge role in how we view our potential and our ability to learn and deal with the challenges that we face in our daily lives.

Steps to achieving a growth mindset?

In her bookMindset: The New Psychology of Success” Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck defined mindset as a set of beliefs and traits about human nature. Her decades of research concluded that there are two types of mindsets: growth and fixed.

Do you have a fixed and growth mindset?
  1. By believing that your skills and talents can be honed. This way, you create a new compelling belief of yourself. Consider failure as an extra effort to significantly improve the current results for the better. According to Dweck, people with a growth mindset believe that skills and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning, and persistence. They view effort positively because when applied in skills, competencies, and character development, it results in growth. Their passion for learning helps them consider failure as a learning opportunity. Hence, they step out of their comfort zones and take calculated risks. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset believe that skills and intelligence are innate and unchangeable.
  2. Enhance your self-awareness to comprehend your key strengths and weaknesses fully. This will be possible when you positively take feedback on areas of improvement to better enhance your current status. This is summarized by Carol Dweck as follows: “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.”
  3. Become a curious learner by living in wonderment and discover the beauty of life. Learning different experiences will teach you different lessons. This will help you embrace challenges no matter how impossible they look to be, to reach the top. According to Simon Sinek, “Some people see the thing they want, and some people see the thing that prevents them from getting what they want.”
  4. Be inspired by others’ achievements and have a desire to see others achieve their own echelons of success. When this happens, it simply adds fuel to their blazing fire to keep on with the journey. it doesn’t mean they’re always on a growth mindset path. The truth is, we all have the two mindsets at play in our lives. Since these mindsets apply to all life’s domains from artistic, emotional, academic, physical and social skills, a person with a growth mindset in one area may hold a fixed mindset in another.
  5. Finally, perseverance is an essential prerequisite for a growth mindset. The feeling of frustration has been cited as the quickest way of giving up long before we should. We are designed to thrive! Don’t focus too much on what is happening to you but rather devote your energy on what’s happening for you.

In conclusion, the aspect of mindset represents a spectrum. That means, in different times and situations, you might be on a growth mindset, while other times you slip into a fixed mindset. It takes your self-awareness to flex back to growth mindset when you slip to a fixed zone. The realization that you are in control of your abilities is the first step to adopting a growth mindset!

Do you want to learn more about professional development? Find more about our management essential training and candidate engagement events by sending an email to or visiting

career advice

Career Advice: Kenya’s Leading HR Pros Share Career Tips

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This year we’ve hosted several career advice panels in Nairobi to introduce rising professionals to industry experts in their chosen fields.

We recently had the privilege of hosting Angeline Mutua, Chief Manager, Talent Management & Staff Development at Kenya Revenue Authority, Christopher Karani, Talent Manager at Unilever, and Christopher Mwirigi, Learning and Development Manager at I&M Bank to discuss key trends in HR, career advice for advancement, and wisdom on personal and professional growth.

Here are some of the insights they shared about professional growth and career advancement:

Advocate for your next opportunity

Learn how to sell yourself. Be bold and ask for what you want. Angeline shared that she was able to transition from a career in Communications to being an Executive Administrator and finally into HR by consistently seeking feedback and advocating for the next opportunity. She explained how early in her career, she would ask to take on new roles during meetings and presentations, building her skill set while showing her boss that she was capable of new responsibilities.

She shared that she was impressed with the initiative she’s seen from her younger colleagues: “This generation is not going to sit and wait for opportunities! They know they won’t just have a development plan handed to them.” Remember that if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will?

Stay up to date with industry news and current events

Christopher Mwirigi offered the career advice that keeping up to date with industry and business news could help you have meaningful conversations with leaders within your company and position yourself for advancement. Subscribe to industry newsletters and read the paper — not only to impress your boss but also to enrich your own understanding of your company’s work. Ask yourself: If you were in an elevator with your CEO, what would you want to discuss with them?

Chris Karani reiterated the importance of reading and continuously learning. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, some of the skills you know today will be irrelevant in the next two years. This means you need to seek out ways in which you will remain relevant in your career and workplace in general.

“Understand your industry and organization inside out and the ways in which you add value. Keep in mind that organizations are less afraid of losing you but more afraid of retaining an individual who adds no value to them,” said Chris. In the recruitment process, take the time to understand the organization you want to work for, what they do, the impact they make and what value you can bring on board.

There is no conventional way of landing your dream job

Take on the journey of self-discovery, start from where you are to get to where you want to be. It doesn’t matter what you studied, or what you are currently doing, keep going and seek out ways to drive yourself towards where your goal.

Angeline started her career journey in communications for a number of years, tried out other roles, before getting into Human Resources. Christopher Karani studied Computer Science in campus and currently uses technology to improve Human Resources practices across his organization, while Christopher Mwirigi’s first passion was football, and now applies the same teamwork and confidence in his HR career, focusing on learning and development.

Find a mentor

Mentorship is key to career and personal development. You may be lucky enough to find a mentor in a current or former supervisor, but more often, you will need to be proactive in seeking a mentor.

Is there a leader you admire in your organization? Or perhaps you know someone outside of work who is great at a particular skill set that you’d like to work on. LinkedIn could also be a valuable tool for reaching out to a potential mentor. Chris Karani offered the career advice that he made a list of professionals on LinkedIn with HR positions he aspired to, and then reached out to each of them with a thoughtful list of questions. One of the professionals who responded has been his mentor ever since!

This example highlights an important bit of career advice — be sure to approach a potential mentor with a clear “ask” and discussion questions, so that they feel their time is being used productively. And remember — sometimes finding the right mentor can be challenging but don’t be discouraged, you will find someone who is a natural fit to guide you with their advice and feedback.

Your attitude is fundamental

While confidence, intellect, and knowledge are key when it comes to making it in any field, your attitude has the potential to open doors for you. This could be as simple as being proactive when it comes to learning; often times you don’t have to have all that’s listed in a job description but your willingness to learn and grow sets you apart.

Part of having a positive attitude is not being afraid to fail. It is often said that failure is the best teacher. You learn how not do certain things, how not to act and it shows you what doesn’t work. No matter where you are in your career at the moment, remember you can always begin again and do better. Always focus on the possibilities of success, not the potential for failure!

Thanks again to our incredible panelists for their wisdom and career advice. Want to make sure you’re on the invite list for our next Careers event in Nairobi? Sign up for our newsletter here.

Related: Seven young business leaders in Kenya share the best career advice they ever received

4 Tips for Being a Lifelong Learner

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In order to become a sought-after professional in today’s job market, it’s more important than ever to be adaptable and a lifelong learner willing to gain insights and expertise throughout a career. Companies are increasingly looking for individuals with a broad set of skills who are comfortable moving across functions and teams.

How can you gain diverse skill sets and continue to develop yourself professionally, both on-the-job and in your personal life? We asked Wambui Kuria, formerly a Talent & Development Officer at Momentum Credit, a microfinance company providing structured working capital solutions to individuals, and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and now a Management Consultant at KPMG. Wambui has had quite a diverse career that has included financial auditing, entrepreneurship, recruiting and software. She describes her current role at Momentum Credit as “fifty percent human resources and fifty percent business development.”

Here are four tips from Wambui on how you can be a lifelong learner and become a more versatile employee:

1. Be comfortable outside your comfort zone to grow in your career

While she began her career as a financial auditor, Wambui quickly realized that she preferred interacting with people day-to-day in her work life. However, it was challenging to shift careers in a job market where you typically get a job based on what you studied for. In order to make a career shift, she first started scouting for jobs in sales where she could highlight transferable skills, eventually landing a role as a salesperson at a training company. “This anchored my passion for training, particularly when I would see the feedback from our clients saying how much the training changed their mindset.”

Her curiosity once again led her to move into a new role, this time in recruiting. There she found herself in meetings with software developers. She credits this experience with learning how to communicate with the tech team, in order to work effectively with the department to meet her timelines. Wambui used these experiences to push herself out of her comfort zone in order to chart a path of personal growth. “I often dare myself in different ways and praise myself when I learn something new.”

2. A lifelong learner loves and embraces technology

You don’t need to be an engineer or an IT professional to use technology to your advantage. Combining a desire to learn new things with technology can have added benefits. “I like to learn new things and I love technology. I’ve really enjoyed learning new software, creating beautiful designs on online tools such as Canva, and learning as much as I can on Google.” Being comfortable in Google Drive has paid dividends for Wambui, particularly when working with outside clients. “If you’re working across companies, everything is often shared online on Drive. This really makes it easier to work with my suppliers. I might have big files and need a lot of people to view them, so online tools are crucial.”

Being current with technology as a lifelong learner can be vital for just about any role within a company. “We all require these skills; When I started working I realized everyone needs to understand IT, as well as know how to operate smartphones. See, you might be a great lawyer, but if you don’t know how to sign contracts online, that’s dangerous to your business.”


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The team at Momentum learning from each other.

3. Share what you’ve learned at work!

Your learning can be significantly enhanced by collaborating with your peers in the office. If done effectively it can even positively affect the culture in your workplace. Encouraging others to share their knowledge can make room for a more interactive environment where everyone is utilizing their colleagues to actively share their learning across departments and functions. Treat this like a form of on-the-job training that everyone can participate in.

Consider starting a book club or a small library in your office to create a culture of reading for professional development. While at Momentum, Wambui implemented a system to reward high-performing team members by giving them books to read. “We reward people monthly depending on their performance, and one of the ways we’re trying to do that is by reducing on other incentives and give them books to read instead.” Putting growth and development first can pay huge dividends for everyone to meet their professional potential.

4. Build your online learning presence

According to Wambui, using your online presence to show your propensity for learning can improve your professional brand. “My LinkedIn has articles, things I’ve read, and it really shows that I am more than my educational background. I would say that’s a major thing that’s worked for me.” This shows employers and your network that you are passionate about your interest areas and serious about continuing to develop yourself as a lifelong learner.

If you’re like Wambui and YouTube is your “school of life”, consider posting videos to your social media channels to spark a discussion amongst your friends. A good habit to get into is to comment on articles and other resources that thought leaders in your field post to their pages. This can increase your visibility to ensure that high-level professionals know you are actively engaging in your professional development.

Becoming a lifelong learner requires commitment, energy, and curiosity. It takes a willingness to take ownership and expose yourself to new situations and environments. The above tips are just a few of many ways you can apply yourself to professionally grow and show your professional value is more than what’s on your CV.

Thanks so much to Wambui for sharing her wisdom with us! We’re proud to partner with Momentum Credit and help them build happy high-performing teams. Interested to work with MCL? they’re currently hiring for an Operations ManagerCustomer Relationship Officer, and Telesales Agents!

Related: Moving laterally to move upwards

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Job hopping and what it can mean for your career

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Job hopping can be described as the frequent changing of jobs. In many of our interactions with professionals in different fields, we’ve met individuals who inquire about how moving through different positions reflects on them as jobseekers, and what they can gain or lose from job hopping.While we may enjoy the benefits of trying new things throughout our career, is the grass always greener on the other side? 
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Job hopping may sometimes be necessitated by certain events or changes that take place in an organization as well as the nature of roles performed, sometimes this may be a personal decision. We want to share with you how job hopping elevates or disrupts your career depending on the timing of your decision by looking at the pros and cons.

Let’s first look at some of the positive outcomes associated with job hopping every so often:

Growth opportunity: Young professionals are drawn to companies that provide them with upward mobility and professional development. This may be a given in most cases, as we generally would move to an organization that potentially gives the opportunity to rise through the ranks faster.

While a promotion may not be the initial prize, a horizontal move is sometimes necessary to give you the opportunity to progress vertically. Gaining exposure within different departments in your organization can provide immense growth opportunities and make you a more well-rounded professional.

Salary bump: If your main goal at work is to make money, then job hopping may give you the opportunity to attain this much faster than going through annual reviews at your current organization. However, this is not a guarantee for everyone.

You might want to ask yourself: Am I avoiding annual reviews? Perhaps by sticking with a company, you can receive valuable feedback and grow even more professionally than you would by jumping ship.

Diversify your skills: Job hopping allows an individual to sharpen a wide range of skill sets through experience gained in different industries, as well as exposure to different kinds of challenges. A candidate with diverse experience and background appears more attractive to a potential employer, as they are an “all in one” candidate and with fresh ideas and new ways of doing things.

Show some of your best attributes: Job hopping may showcase a candidate’s ability to easily adapt to different environments. If you are able to deliver in a short time frame, it will further show that you are potentially a fast learner.

Building a large professional network: From a diverse employment background, a candidate can forge strong professional relationships that would potentially be very useful in future. That said, it can be difficult to build solid relationships and credibility if you are not at a single organization for very long.

Now that we’ve reviewed some of the positive aspects of switching jobs, let’s move on to the flip side – how this might negatively affect one’s career:

Risk of appearing unreliable: An individual may appear unreliable if they have a recurring tendency to switch jobs every few months or years. An employer might assume that you will shift gears at the first sight of routine or boredom. Consider the signals you are sending by frequently job hopping. Is a hiring manager going to express concern in bringing you on board if your CV shows an employee who is constantly on the move?

Reluctance to invest in your growth: The best employers encourage their employees to grow both as a professional and within the organization. They might spend time teaching the employee new skills, mentoring them about their career path, or coaching them to improve on their weaknesses. They may also do this formally by sponsoring an individual’s studies to further their education or enroll employees in valuable trainings.

If you have a reputation of not sticking around, the employer may pass on extending an offer to you on such opportunities since they would presume it to be a waste of time and resources on their end.

Shows a lack of focus and commitment: Job hopping has a tendency to portray negative traits in a candidate as it can show that you are unstable and lack clear career objectives. It can also be difficult to explain that you actually made an impact in the former organizations you worked at within the short period you were there.

While changing jobs is not a bad thing, it is important to consider some of these factors while evaluating your options.

Furthermore, job hopping can be detrimental to your long-term career goals. You may tend to move around the same position in different companies since you have not gained enough experience to warrant a promotion at a new organization.

Individuals with a history of shifting companies at a moderate pace and showing a pattern of upward movement, increased responsibility, and increased experience, would ideally appear more valuable to an organization.

We’d also like to hear from you, do let us know how your professional journey has been. Let us know any other professional development topics you’d like us to tackle or give insights on.


Related: Moving laterally to move upwards

Related: Harvard Business Review: Job-Hopping


Finance Leaders Share 3 Insider Tips to Succeed

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What we learned from local experts about their career paths, mentorship and how they got where they are today.

We recently held the first of our monthly series of networking events for young professionals in Nairobi. Shortlist’s “Top Finance Talent Meetup” brought together a select group of finance professionals to hear from three experts within the field of finance. Ariane Fisher, Shortlist East Africa’s Managing Director, was joined on the panel by Peace Osangir, COO of Kopo Kopo; Sharon Olende, Lendable’s Director of East Africa; and Job Muriuki, CEO of Momentum Credit. This highly informative discussion contained a wealth of insights on topics such as their career journeys, future trends in the field and the importance of cultivating mentorship. In addition, our guests shared their lessons on professional development and lifelong learning.

Here are “3 Tips to Succeed Professionally in Kenya” by our panel of finance experts

1. Education Doesn’t Always Equal Results

Peace Osangir shared that, in her experience, many young people are more focused on accumulating credentials and degrees than on how those experiences will enhance their learning. “Someone can have two Master’s, but the output doesn’t tally. How do you make sure that the type of information you’re getting is going to create a difference in terms of your output? Sometimes someone can come in without any background in finance and is able to excel. And that’s because the level of execution really differs. It’s not about how many credentials you accumulate but how your output changes as a result of your learning.”

Sharon noted similar observations from her previous experience of two decades in the banking sector. She spoke about the value of having the right mindset in your professional life, adding that “it’s not about what you know, it’s about your attitude and what we can teach you. A lot of things can be taught to you. Accumulating degrees with no work experience doesn’t help you. We’re recruiting for people we think can learn. We just want to see your thought process, how you think about a problem. I can tell you that we have put out job adverts looking for someone with five years experience, but we hired someone with two.”

Job lamented the tendency for youth in the workforce to be close-minded when they view their career paths. “I believe to be successful you have to have fun. Too many young people decide to put themselves in a box. If you’re in your 20’s, you’re gonna work for another 40 years or so. So why put yourself in a box when life has so many experiences before you decide what you’re going to do? Think outside the box.” He went on to share that there are plenty of ways to continue your learning outside of the classroom: “The best education I have received in my life has been reading a lot of books. It’s good to enrich your mind with non-conventional thinking, push the envelope, read interesting things. Try not to conform to what people expect you to be.”


Engaged participants listening to our speakers reflect on their career journeys

2. Be reliable and always execute

Throughout the conversation between the panelists, the topic of execution came up frequently. The added benefits of being reliable in your professional life reach far beyond excelling in your current role. As Sharon remarked, “execution is the best thing ever. If you can execute, and people know they can rely on your work, you’ll go far. We’ve all sat in jobs we didn’t like, but you keep performing, because that will open your next opportunity for you.

It might appear easy for a panel of highly experienced and respected professionals to share this advice when they are at a point in their careers where they can be highly selective. However, as Peace shared, they got to this point through having a track record of excellence: “To have the luxury of selection, you have to have the execution and stand out from the crowd. Having that ability to select and question decisions comes from understanding your capability and ability to execute.”

3. Learn the tough lessons from early on in your career

Each of our panelists shared harsh truths they gained from past decisions they had made in their professional lives. Peace expressed the uneasiness she encountered when she switched from a role in finance to one in transfer pricing. Since she had no previous work in doing so, she had to apply herself to get up to speed with her colleagues. In turn, she acquired valuable life skills from that opportunity. “That was a moment of challenge. With time, I made sure I understood transfer pricing rules and guidelines. To make sure I could execute the cycle better than I could have. This took a bit of time, being able to start writing 200-page reports, but I needed to make sure I learned it so next time I could execute. My brand shouldn’t be impacted by the decisions I make. Despite setbacks, I make sure I know where my gaps are so everything is good the next time around.”

Sharon provided an anecdote about the importance of managing people, based on an unfortunate situation she found herself in at a previous position. She explained that it’s not just about managing those beneath you in the organizational structure, but “how you manage people above you is equally important.” She went on to say that “in large corporations, there’s a lot of politics. Unfortunately, to some extent, you have to learn some politicking. Particularly more senior people.”

Job shared a particularly difficult moment when he decided to make a decision without consulting with his supervisors. While the decision he made was the wrong one, he learned immensely from the experience. “Since that day it’s fundamentally changed the way I do everything. Even now as a CEO, I can make any decision I want, but I don’t. It’s not the right way to do things. It was a painful lesson to learn. That was a tough lesson for me because you can be really smart, but it’s important to work as a team.”


Attendees stayed afterwards to network among their peers and gain further insight from the panelists.

After the panel, participants had the opportunity to make peer connections as well as discuss finance and their career with our guests. It was a wonderful opportunity to see so many high-caliber professionals take ownership over their career and professional journey. We want to give out a special thanks to our panelists, and be on the lookout for future candidate events offered by Shortlist! And as always, if you’re looking for a new position, check out our open jobs!