The Speaker's assistant
Eunice Lumallas is an advocate and Personal Assistant of the Speaker of the National Assembly. She speaks to Njoki Chege about her work.
Where and what did you study?
I did a Bachelor of Law (LLB) at Moi University and majored in Women and the Law. I graduated top in my class in 2004.
Did you always want to be a lawyer?
Oh yes! Ever since I was 13, my dream was to be a lawyer. I did not hesitate to pursue law when I qualified after high school.
How did you get to your current job?
After university, I was admitted as an advocate of the High Court. I worked with Mohammed Muigai Advocates and later Stanbic Bank before joining Parliament as the Speaker’s PA. I had worked with the Speaker Mr Kenneth Marende in other matters and through my former boss, I was interviewed for the PA position.
What does your job entail?
I have been Mr Marende’s PA for three years and I deal with legal issues in his office, as the Speaker has to approve a bill before it becomes law. I am also in charge of administrative roles such as managing the staff, briefing the speaker before meetings, accompanying him to meetings to take minutes as well as organising his diary.
What does it take to be the speaker’s PA?
Besides academic qualifications, trust is key. You have to be trustworthy and reliable because you are entrusted with the Speaker’s diary. You also have to conduct yourself with dignity and respect. As a PA, you represent your boss and, therefore, you must have to have public relations skills, learn to be tolerant of everyone and listen to them. Resilience is also important to keep up with the challenges. You also have to know a bit of everything, meaning you need to be adequately exposed.
Describe a typical day at work.
Everyday is different because the Speaker’s diary is not the same every day. While Tuesdays — Parliament-sitting days — are spent in meetings with the Speaker, other days are spent in the office doing paperwork and organising staff. Ordinarily, however, a day begins at 8:30am till 6:30pm, although I sometimes work longer than that.
What do you love about your job?
My job is a unique learning experience. I have a good boss whom I look up to for motivation and inspiration. Through my job, I meet numerous people and I am able to network and relate with them. I meet and interact with members of Parliament everyday and through this, I am able to understand them and view them from a different perspective.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Being away from home for long hours, especially when I have to travel, is a challenge since I am a mother of a two-year-old boy. Therefore, balancing between my job and family is quite a challenge, but it is under control.
Who do you look up to and why?
Besides my boss, I look up to and admire Martha Karua. Having interacted with her on several occasions, she strikes me as a polite yet courageous woman who defends
her position with tenacity and determination.
What other interests do you engage in besides your job?
I am passionate about women and children’s rights. I joined The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in 2007 to contribute to the realisation of women and children’s rights.
I am hoping to be a FIDA council member so as to get a platform to pursue my ideals of feminism and gender equality. Being a council member will also enable me push for the enforcement of law and policies that guarantee justice and fairness for women and children.
How do you unwind after a long week?
I enjoy wining and dining with friends. It is refreshing to be with people who accept you as you are without focusing on your flaws. I also enjoy theatre and frequent Phoenix Theatre. I jog as a form of exercise, especially when parliament is on recess.
What advice would you give young girls pursuing law or any other career?
They should find inspiration in their uniqueness. Don’t limit yourself because you can achieve anything if you put your mind and effort to it. Have women role models who will encourage you and help you reach your potential. Be courageous and focus on what you desire and you will go places.
What are your plans?
Besides doing my best to support the speaker carry out his duties, I see myself in a position of conflict management and dispute resolution. I also hope to be in leadership where I can bring the government’s focus on children and women issues.
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