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Home / Achieving Woman

Turning 40 came with a new outlook on life

 Connie Anyika is the head of external affairs at British America Tobacco East Africa (Photo courtesy)

I turned 40 last year and one of the things important to me and therefore dictates my day is healthy living. I try to work out every day.

When I wake up I exercise for 30 to 45 minutes. My current go-to session is Les Mills BodyAttack series. Before the pandemic, I never thought I could do home workouts. I even had a home workout machine that I never used. I just had to go to the gym.

But with lockdown restrictions, I started working out at home and while it took a while to adapt, I now enjoy it so much so that I think I’ll stick to it.

My career growth has been a journey of discovery. I never thought I’d be a lawyer, but I have surprised myself in many ways by doing things I never thought possible.

For instance, in the corporate organisation where I started as a lawyer, I moved out of the legal department to finance and had my first internal audit role with no financial background.

My line manager then assured me of support, and I reached out to colleagues who had done it before to learn from them. I am not shy to ask for help, neither am I shy to say when I don’t know something. It’s the best you can do for yourself.

There is no need to pretend if you don’t know, and I have never seen anyone pass judgement when they’re asked for help in good faith. 

I wish I knew that it’s okay to make mistakes when I first started out in my career. I think a lot of us start our careers thinking we need to be perfect, but the reality is every successful person is successful because of their achievements as well as their mistakes.

Growing up, I didn’t hear people talk about their mistakes or failures, yet they are key parts of growth. Last year being the year I turned 40, and add to that the pandemic, I started reflecting a lot about things that are important to me and the kind of impact I want to have.

The major question on my mind was how do I use myself and what I have been able to do so far for the benefit of others.

I’ve decided one of the ways is to be honest and transparent about the challenges I’ve been through, how I navigated them, and be helpful however else I can be depending on what the person needs.

Self-care to me means understanding my body, being attuned to what is going on holistically and listening to myself. It means being deliberate about what I need and going for it.

So, if I’m tired that’s a cue for me to stop as opposed to pushing myself to a point where I can’t go further because of exhaustion. 

Outside work, I am a doting aunt. I have five nephews and one niece so you’ll find me on aunty duties; usually we go swimming. I also love house plants and I am in the process of developing a potted garden. I have an aunt who is teaching me about the different plants.

I love travelling. One of the perks of working for BAT, a multinational company, is that there is always opportunity for travel. Before moving to Nairobi earlier in January, I worked in London as lead counsel for Western Europe region and later in Hong Kong as head of regulatory engagement for Asia Pacific and Middle East region.

I travelled a lot in these regions and every time I travel for work, I always take some time to explore. I like to see the streets that the tourists never go to and this makes it a much more authentic experience. I can’t pick one place that’s been memorable because everywhere I have been to has been special.

However, I think Lamu is astonishingly beautiful and the country I visited most when I lived in Asia was Vietnam, a stunning place, from the beach to the mountains.

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