Nelly Movine is the Regional Chief Finance Officer at Jumia, a Pan-African e-commerce firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Greatest milestone: My greatest milestone in my career is my current role. I am managing the finance teams and operations across 3 countries. I get to be involved in the strategic business and financial management of the business, get to travel quite a lot and I am working with three different cultures, systems and operations which makes it very challenging and exciting at the same time. I started out as a junior accountant for one country. Doing anything that was required in the finance department. This exposed me to every part of the financial statement as well as the business. Then I was moved into a project management role that had a lot of financial and business analytics work. This grew my understanding of the organization, systems and processes. All these experiences, together with the right attitude and having a mentor who invested in my learning and growth, helped me achieve this.
What has been your secret to building your career, business or wealth: I would credit deliberate persistence for my career successes. Despite the long working hours, the little pay starting out and the frustration of proving one’s worth as a millennial in a society that has branded millennials as entitled and lazy, it’s that persistence to be better, to attain my goals and to reach greater heights that has propelled me. Every young person needs to take up new work, new challenges and opportunities especially when starting out their career. When looking at the package the company is offering, don’t only look at the salary but look at what else the company is offering. Don’t go for instant gratification in lieu of long term success. I’d rather grow as a person and professionally at work because that means my value in the market is increasing rather than get paid really well, just to stagnate and devalue myself within the next 3-5 years. Work with the end mind in goal. You should ask yourself, “Where do I want to be and how does this current opportunity get me closer to my goal?”
What is the secret to making it: There’s no secret. When you decide that this is not where you want to be and you want to do more, be more, achieve more, your mind opens up and you start seeing opportunities in places, people and things that were otherwise just normal or mediocre to you before. Our mind can be our greatest asset/liability. We are only as good as our mind believes. We go wrong as Kenyans when we start thinking that,” I don’t have the right contacts or network”, “I didn’t go to the best schools,”, “I don’t have experience”, “I can only make it through being corrupt”. Don’t think negative thoughts about yourself. Be your greatest fan. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have and how you can capitalize on your strengths.
Your biggest money mistake: My greatest money mistake was leaving money on the table during a job negotiation. I was applying for a new job and I really wanted it so I thought I didn’t want to lose the opportunity by seeming greedy. Little did I know that the hiring team already wanted to hire me and the figure I wanted was actually their budget. They offered me the job with very little pay and I resented it in the end because I wasn’t growing and the pay wasn’t motivating. I learnt that I am the only one who can define my worth and I am my own salesperson and I need to sell myself to potential employers so that my worth is not just based on what I am telling them but also backed up by my experiences and achievements. It’s also okay to be rejected for stating your worth, it could be that the company doesn’t have the budget to hire you, it doesn’t always have to be negative. Even as you show/state your value, remember to always be humble, professional about it and be willing to meet in the middle if the opportunity is worth it and aligned with your goals.
Your biggest career loss: I used to think of missed opportunities like losses in the past but I don’t anymore. Now I feel that missed opportunities made me work harder to catch up and I am happy with where I am careerwise and it’s only going to get better. Most people wanted to work for a Big 4 Accountancy firm after finishing school. I didn’t get this opportunity. At that point it felt like I was doomed to work for unknown firms and forever be in the shadows. Overtime, I’ve come to learn that it’s not about where you work but it’s about what you do with the opportunities you get. This is my way of handling anything I think of as a loss.
If I could start all over again: I would work towards having a work life balance earlier on in my career so it becomes second nature. The same zest I put in my work, I would put in my relationships, hobbies and talents. Now, I am actively working towards this kind of balance as you can’t make a mistake twice and still call it a mistake.
Saving method: I save a certain percentage of my salary each month. I’ve always used this method but in the past I wasn’t very disciplined so it wasn’t very effective. What caused indiscipline was impulse purchases, especially since I was furnishing my home at that time and there’ll be friends/family who’ll also come and ask for money but never refund. I would always end up having little to no amount left for savings after this. So, I changed it up with the following steps:
I first created goals to motivate the saving habit. Some of my goals include saving for a trip and saving for investment. Now I am more motivated than ever thinking of being able to afford these goals.
I also decided, before I pay anyone, I will pay myself first. So my savings come before my rent, utility bills, shopping. This way, I only work with what I have.
The savings is deducted automatically from my checking account to an account I don’t have easy access to. I am more disciplined now because of my goals but it doesn’t harm to put an extra layer of protection for those days where the deals are just too good to let go.
Entrepreneurship versus employment: which one would you advocate for: I would advocate for entrepreneurship. However, not at the start of anyone’s career. I would rather you gain the experience and learn from people or companies that have been there and done that and then you can go ahead and do it on your own when you’re wiser and better and have more exposure. I believe in apprenticeship and the industrious Indian families in Kenya have proven this to work. They don’t give their sons and daughters businesses to run out of nowhere. They are groomed from a young age to take up their family businesses. I vouch for entrepreneurship because we’re still a growing nation and we need people to innovate, create and build things as that’s the only way we can grow as a nation. The government doesn’t create employment. It’s the entrepreneurs that do. However, you should remember that not everyone can be an entrepreneur and it’s okay to be employed for the rest of your life. Don’t hate on employment. Work diligently. Employment and Entrepreneurship are symbiotic. You can get a really good job and be an investor, venture capitalist or a stock broker and in this way you’re supporting the entrepreneurs to create more jobs as they grow your investment into sizable wealth.
What’s your parting shot: What is that heart advice that you have learned on life and money from other senior persons? Be content but never settle. Always strive to be a better version of yourself each day. Grow your mind, grow your networks, your profession, your relationships. Adopt a reading culture. Learn a new language. Anything that makes you better is worth pursuing. The worst thing you can do to yourself is think that you’ve made it and you don’t need to do more. Everything and every person can provide an opportunity for you to learn something new. Don’t look down upon people or things whom you think of as lesser than you.