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My passion created the masterpiece in me

Achieving Woman
 My passion created the masterpiece in me 

A warm-hearted welcoming soul filled with joy is the first thing you notice about Bilha Mucuha. She is the epitome of hospitality, she has an aura that makes you feel at home.

Bilha’s personality fits her role as the Sales and Marketing Manager and Board Member at Tamarind Group.

Tamarind Tree, Tamarind Village and Carnivore are some of the subsidiaries of Tamarind Group.

Bilha has been working for Tamarind for 12 years; since 2012 when she started as an intern, fresh from university and at 22.

“Back in high school, I was not a good performer. The 8-4-4 system did not seem to favour me. Although I loved working hard in my studies, the efforts never reflected on my report cards. However, the teachers knew about my hard work, so when others would get into trouble for failing, I would be spared,” said Bilha.

When the time came for Bilha to pick her future career, she was confused about what to do since her performance in the sciences was not the best.

“My father taught me a critical lesson during that period. He helped me see my strengths in people skills and languages. That is how I was able to zone down to hospitality.”

She joined Strathmore University as a hospitality student, a decision that changed her life completely. She said, “Studies became interesting because I was finally doing what I love.”

Combining that passion with her hard work created a star, a lady who left Strathmore cum laude as the valedictorian in her year, 2012.

Bilha did her attachment at Tamarind Village, Mombasa.

“I did my attachment so well they guaranteed me a job. Immediately after I finished my university exams, I was on a bus to Tamarind Mombasa to start working.”

‘After eight years, I became the general manager (GM).”

When Bilha was made GM, Covid-19 struck. This period was a difficult time for many businesses. Tourism was in a state of hibernation and the hospitality industry was highly affected.

But this was one of the most positively memorable moments for Bilha.

“Leading my team at that time enabled us to transform Tamarind Mombasa. It required extensive innovation, and strategic planning and just seeing the satisfaction our guests got, as well as the recognition we got from the broader company was very rewarding.”

Many would have chosen to stay and enjoy this moment of victory. For Bilha, she saw this as an achievement in one sector and wanted to make more of an impact in other areas.

“I felt it was time to leave Mombasa and do something different. I came to Nairobi to do sales and marketing.”

After some time, she was promoted to director of her department.

Her advice to women in the corporate world is to work as professionals, and colleagues and not wear ‘the fact that they are women’ on their sleeves.

“I appreciate the upbringing I had. As much as I was the only girl out of three siblings, my parents never taught me things just because I was a girl. Therefore, when I got into the workplace, I never came in as a woman, I joined as a peer, a professional and a colleague. I see myself as a professional and I believe you are what you see yourself as.”

“In my organisation, there is fair promotion, the salary scale is fair and it does not favour people on a gender basis.”

Bilha rebukes the kampuni sio yangu (the company is not mine) mentality. She works as an intrapreneur, which she defines as, “someone who works as if the company is theirs.”

“I define my strong work ethic as my superpower. This is because I mainly operate as an intrapreneur and not just an employee. I work for the company as if it were mine, without looking at my watch or my salary.”

Many people confuse this mentality with passion, adding that passion can get you through any career. However, as Bilha puts it, “Passion is only a starter, not a sustainer.” One has to find different motivating factors in different seasons of life, which will then act as sustainers.

“In different seasons of life, I have been motivated by different things. When I started working, I was motivated by earning money, later promotions, then accolades, but in this season, I am encouraged by impact. When I talk of impact, I mean impacting the business, the lives of the employees in the organisation, and also society.”

Currently, she and Tamarind Group are on the road to launching a loyalty programme, which aims at rewarding the guests who have been with them for the 52 years they have been operational. She aims to also ensure that Carnivore roars again in terms of entertainment.

In her way, she hopes to impact the society by educating young girls. She is already doing it with a few girls, although her goal is to pay school fees for 100 girls.

She says work-life integration is achieved when one plans everything holistically. This means writing a to-do list that has everything scheduled, including your personal and work activities, then scheduling them alongside one another, ensuring that they don’t affect each other.

Since she learned this, she has taken care of her personal life by doing a lot of reading. In addition, hospitality still finds its way into her after work hours, as she enjoys turning her house into a mini Tamarind by inviting friends over and offering catering services.

Bilha’s favourite meal at Tamarind is chilli crabs, a world-class dish that she recommends.

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