Recently, our Chief Financial Officer Kimani Kamau completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. I sat down with him to talk about why he chose to pursue the additional education and discuss its meaning to him and to La Familia.
C: Why go for your MBA?
K: An MBA provides me with the soft skills of being better in strategy. It equips me and brings more clout to the organization. I do have an interest in going back to Africa, and going back without an MBA, is as good as I should never even have come to the United States, that’s our culture. That’s how it is. When you get to America, the first expectation is that when you get back, is it something that you bring back.
C: What do you think having a MBA does for your role here at La Familia?
K: Part of my landing through my MBA is, going to enhance my negotiating skills, going to also enhance my capacity to be more analytical, provide more insight into operational efficiency and things like that. I think it is a great asset. I mean LF should truly be proud to having me as a MBA, it just means I’m going to be able to provide more form of professional leadership. That is how I see it.
C: When did you start the MBA program?
K: I started in the spring of 2015.
C: So you did it in two years?
K: Actually I did it in less than 2 years, because there were 2 summers in between, where I didn’t take any classes. So it’s been a marathon. It’s been a grueling experience. Just having to do three classes, a fulltime position as a CFO…Then, as a husband and as a father of two boys. It’s been a lot of work. I’m still experiencing the hangover right now. Of not going home and not reading or not logging into my laptop and not doing some research.
C: What does that feel like? Not having all of the additional work of classes after your job?
K: I feel empty. That there is something in my life that is missing, so that is why I signed up for the CPA. To fill out the gap and take those four classes between now and December.
C: Is that typical for you? Always wanting to be as busy and as full as possible?
K: You get into in such a mindset of doing something even if you’re not studying you know in the back of your mind you are thinking about it. So having nothing to think about means I can only watch movies I can spend more time with my boys but half the time they want to do their own things. I have a guilty conscious, feeling that I should be studying. Because that is what I have been doing…I am sure I’ll get used to it. Pick up some more golfing on the weekends. Also catch up on some emails I have not been responding to for a while.
C: Like mine?
K: Yes, my goal is catching up with things and also see if I can maybe starting from next week start studying for the CPA. I am excited!
C: So before you did your MBA, what kept you busy?
K: I did do a lot of golfing. And I love to watch movies and to watch different series.
C: What are your favorite kinds of movies?
K: Spy movies. I love the intensity. That kind of movie is awesome, they just keep me riveted. You know? To see some CIA guys running after some terrorist and stuff like that. Keeps me on the edge. Then my wife introduced me to this crazy series called “Walking Dead”. For a very long time I thought it was a weird and no way she was watching this stuff. But when I watched it, I actually got hooked. I watched 7/6 series within 2 weeks.
C: That was your, your break?
K: Yes, I also picked up biking; I have been doing some street biking and mountain biking. I do like 60 miles biking on weekends. This Saturday I am actually going back to biking. I planning to do at least 40 miles of biking and burn about 4000 calories. That’s a new hobby I picked up. Again if you know me well. I am the kind of person who picks up something and sticks with it.
C: So when somebody gives you the structure it works?
K: That works for me. It doesn’t matter what it is. Like, I use to be a smoker, when I was about 27. I just woke up 1 day and said I’m quitting and I never turned back. I just quit and moved on.
C: You got a celebration from the staff here at Mocine.
K: Yeah, they gave me a few gifts. Some exotic drinks, some took me out for lunch. Then I found them invading my office. One early morning and I was wondering what’s going on? Then I found all of the graduation decorations. Looks good. I didn’t know they were doing it. So, actually it was a conspiracy against me. But it felt good. It was fun. I mean, I enjoyed the attention. It made me feel like my MBA is not just for me, it’s for them too. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to add some value around my new degree. I think it’s a part of being an entrepreneur is also being able to be skilled and equipped with the necessary tools to make sure that you can be able to make good decisions.
C: What is the most important thing you learned from getting your MBA?
K: I think the most important thing was this class called negotiation for managers. It gave me some basis of just understanding of our work environment. You have to be able to be compassionate and understand that people come in with different challenges from their lives that you may not know about. It’s more like psychology: you need to be understanding. I don’t need to be a hard baller all of the time. It means that if I walk into a negotiation it’s good for you to have that mindset that they might be in a place that’s difficult for them. I remind myself to set clear expectations on your goals: set up a negotiation plan to make sure that you are able to achieve what is best for the organization and at the same time to be compassionate to them and understand where they are in life. I learned from my professor that I don’t have to be an antagonistic negotiator all of the time, wanting to win. There are times when you try and get into a win-win situation. That was a big learning experience for me, because I’ve always wanted to go into a negotiation with the expectation that I’m going to win it.
Another class I enjoyed was called new venture development. Understanding how organizations can implode if they don’t have a clear sustainable plan of growth. That I took to heart, because we are a growing organization and we are always looking for opportunities and just being able to remember that we have a responsibility of making sure that we have that sustainable growth plan as we move on. Then there was one on globalization and sustainability. Having a global mind doesn’t have to be global like around the world; it’s within an organization you have to have a global eye on everything that goes on. And know what each department that we have is not might be a separate silo, but it is still a part of the family. I think the MBA program has put me in a place I don’t know everything.
C: Thank you Kimani!