Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Ochieng: Avoid penny wise and pound foolish trap to get rich

Robert Ochieng is an IT Professional, a Financial Markets analyst, and the founder of investment firm Abojani Investments.

Biggest milestone: This happened when I went to look for an internship position at Software Technologies Limited at Gigiri when I started out my career. The implementation Manager, Peter Kitheka challenged. He said, “You have come to look for internship in a technology firm that deals with Oracle software but you have no skills in the technology”. He said that he would not give me internship but he would teach me the skills. I didn’t have a laptop by then so I carried my computer and went back to their offices the next day. He installed for me the software and helped me get started. I went on to gain a lot of skills in the technology. I have trained Central of Bank of Kenya and Uganda Revenue Authority staff on Oracle budgeting systems since then. I was also part of the technical team that implemented the current budgeting system at the National Treasury. Mr. Kitheka’s act of kindness was the miracle that changed my life.

The key to success: Set out to give value and brighten the world. Champions always have energy and momentum. Keep aside part of your earnings. Spend less than you earn and invest it in safe investment opportunities that give returns above the inflation rate. Work to increase your cash flows over time. Personal finance is very personal and each person is the professional of their own life and aspirations. We can only learn from others. In Kenya we have an obsession of holding hard and illiquid assets. Sometimes, people work so hard to save hundreds of thousands or millions of Kenya Shillings only to lose it all in a scam or an investment that they don’t understand. It is called being penny wise and pound foolish. We can avoid it by investing in learning.

Biggest money mistake: Failing to take advantage of my skills in ICT to invest in listed technology companies in the US early enough. Technology is changing the world and there is no doubt that these companies have been growing and will continue to grow. You can be a consumer and an investor at the same time.

Biggest career loss: This was focusing too much on technical skills. I went to do an MBA and started looking at commercial aspects of businesses and how to add value in organizations and companies that I have worked for. Finance is the language of businesses. Company registration certificate is the birth certificate of a business but finances are what keep companies, organizations and countries going.

If I could turn back the clock: I was too technical and only learnt how to look at the big picture after starting an MBA at the University of Nairobi. If I could start all over, I would look at soft and technical skills like financial planning, mindfulness and focused networking.

My saving method: I put aside a percentage of my income into a unit trust money market account religiously because I get returns above the inflation rate. This helps me build capital to use in other investment opportunities with high risk and high returns including offshore stocks such as Amazon. Previously, I saved to buy plots of land.

My parting shot: In life, success to me means being a devoted husband to my beloved wife and helping our children grow to become confident adults. In business, the biggest opportunity is in engagement and being available for customers.

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

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