Thursday, May 26, 2022

Aurelius Mukuna: How my wife’s business supported me when I lost my job

Aurelius Mukuna is the new Director of Sales for Park Inn by Radisson Nairobi, Westlands, an upper-midscale, full service hotel.

I have just joined Park Inn. This appointment, for me, is a culmination of a collection of dreams and aspirations. Having started out as an aircraft maintenance technician then fell in love with sales within the internet service provision sector then later on hotel sales, my career has not been a walk in the park. However, I have always been surrounded with overwhelming support. My wife and kids are my biggest cheerleaders and give me the will to challenge myself. But I have also been fortunate enough to serve under leaders who have given me the opportunity to contribute and grow with their support. I have benefited from a wealth of experience and good will which challenges me to create an environment for others to develop and achieve their greatest potential. I am joining a family of brands that nurtures and develops the best talents. It can only get better from here.

I aspire to continuously improve and influence the same growth on others. I have always relied on objective feedback to identify potential areas of development and sought help from those around me to achieve progress. I believe in cross-functional collaboration and its potential to offer a 360 degree view of the organization. But above all, my secret weapon has always been the support system of family, friends and colleagues, always there to nurse my frustrations but also be a source of wake-up call whenever the situation would dictate.

I don’t believe there’s a secret or a formula to wealth. I consider myself very blessed to have found myself in convenient opportunities, some of which I may not have deserved more than those who missed them. However, I believe such opportunities come to one for a reason and there’s a cardinal responsibility not to take them for granted. One’s willingness to step out of their comfort zone, take up extra load for purposes of personal or professional development and volunteering their time to help others overcome their challenges sharpens them for greater responsibilities and the rewards that come along.

Mr Tembo: I don’t beg because I invested my money in my family

Surround yourself with love and support from people who challenge you to be better. Don’t take unnecessary credit, invest in the future. The productive years will not always be around. Also, access to credit facilities is not necessarily license to borrow without planning. That is a lesson I wish I learnt much earlier in my career because a lot of opportunities I would have taken advantage of much earlier had to wait until much later.

In 2020, the hotel I was working for was forced to permanently cease operations rendering hundreds of positions redundant. While all efforts were put in place to ensure a humane and amicable separation, a lot of us thought it had come at the worst time. Fortunately, for me, I had been supporting my wife’s events business whenever I had time away from my main job and therefore falling back into the family business at the time wasn’t awkward. I cannot over emphasize the value of a supportive spouse. We quickly explored opportunities to diversify from event décor to interior décor, a decision that paid dividends. But not everyone in a similar circumstance ended up with the same happy-ending. Again, I doubt there’s a rule book for such circumstances. But with a solid support system one is able to stay positive in the face of adversity and claw their way back where they belong.

I should have probably taken bigger risks earlier on in my career. There were always voices around me pointing out that I had potential but I have always taken a breath before taking the leap. I have no doubt I would have made the steps I have made much faster. However, I am also awake to the fact that this long it has taken has given me enough time to slow-cook, make my mistakes and learn from them without fatally injuring my career. I guess in the end, patience pays.

Investment in money markets works for me. This is opposed to leaving funds in the account lying fallow. The security on deposits, low risk options, relatively higher interest rates and accessibility of the funds makes it all convenient.

I hear people say entrepreneurship is the ultimate road to wealth. But not everyone can be an entrepreneur (at least not in the traditional sense). Some people exercise their sense of creativity and innovation best under employment and that is where they thrive. I suppose it depends on what works for you and what one’s individual circumstances dictate. However, in each of the scenarios, there will always be calculated risks to make and only the bold will find their way to the top. For me, employment is where I come alive.

This profile feature on Aurelius Mukuna was first published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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