I market magical Kenya
By ARDY CHACHA | June 10th 2012
AGATHA JUMA is the Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Tourism Federation, a body that unites seven tourism associations under one umbrella. She has steered the organisation to great heights including organising the maiden Kenya Tourism Awards. She spoke to GARDY CHACHA
I have been at the helm of Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) since December 2008.
KTF is the umbrella body for seven tourism associations representing tour operators, hotelkeepers and caterers, travel agents, air operators, budget hotels, Mombasa and Coast Tourism and Ecotourism Society of Kenya.
Our mission is to promote a sustainable tourism sector through effective representation of industry stakeholder interests at the national level.
As the chief executive officer (CEO) of the federation, I work closely with the private sector to lobby for a conducive business environment for tourism stakeholders.
I also manage the 24-hour KTF Tourist Safety and Communication Centre, which receives and disseminates information on tourist safety and security.
Under my leadership, KTF organised the first ever Kenya Tourism Awards together with Ministry of Tourism and stakeholders. The awards recognised top tourist industry players and the media.
We are now organising the second edition of the awards which will take place sometime this year.
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I also helped draft a new constitution for the federation to strengthens its operations.
My team and I organised the first corporate governance workshop for the executive committee and developed the first strategic plan for the federation.
Childhood and career path
When I was young, my parents made it clear to my siblings and I that nothing comes on a silver platter.
They encouraged us to work hard to scale the heights. That prompted me to work hard from the time I was a pupil at St Xavier Primary School in Nakuru.
I later joined Menengai High School and when I finished my studies, I landed my first job in a chemist as a sales person.
Later, I got another job as a shop attendant then I joined the Career Training Centre in Westlands to pursue a diploma in Tours and Travel Management.
I joined Rickshaw Travel as head of marketing then later joined Block Hotels as a reservations officer.
It was at Block Hotels that my career made a steady rise before I joined KFT.
Currently, I’m doing a Bachelor of Commerce in Management at Catholic University. I plan to enroll for my Masters degree immediately I graduate.
Last year, I was awarded an International Labour Organisation Wedge award for my outstanding role in creating an enabling environment in the tourism sector.
I am a member of Toastmaster — an international club where members develop communication and leadership skills.
I have served the Toastmasters club as the Vice President.
Raising boys to men
I’ve been married to James Juma for 13 years and we have two boys together — Walter who is 12 years old and Gabriel who is eight years old.
I love being a mother and a wife. With a supportive husband I can overcome all the challenges.
There is a notion that a modern career woman cannot make a good wife and mother. Well, I guess it depends on what one’s definition of a good wife and mother is. To me, it works well.
Women should not fear running their lives alongside their careers since it is possible to get fulfilment from both.
My husband and I are lucky to have been raised by caring parents in functional families.
Personally, I borrow my parenting style from my parents — Michael and Mary Maina.
Parenting is manageable for us because I do my part as a mother and my husband does his.
We have a sort of coalition government, only that ours is run with relative peace, love and harmony.
I have come to learn that with children, it’s never quality time but quantity. Thus as parents, we love to spend loads of time with the boys having fun especially on weekends.
Even though I only have boys, I recognise that they are distinct individuals and I always create time for them.
The boys are growing at a fast rate and my husband and I wouldn’t want them to learn about sexuality and many aspects of life they need to know from wrong sources.
We talk to them to the level of their understanding so that they grow up equipped with the right information.
When I became a parent, I was not sure whether I was on the right path, but slowly I gained my confidence.
As a parent I want to instil in my children values like good character, dignity and confidence.
Character building gives them a voice of their own and the ability to articulate their opinions.
In everything I do that touches on the boys, I always involve their father because he is a vital stakeholder in their lives.
Together we formulate a management style that moulds them into what we want them to be.
Our aim is to see them succeed in life so that they can fend for themselves and run their lives when time comes.
When that happens, we will be happy we did our part well.
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