Eco Engineer Lucy Wanjiku Mutinda is not your average woman. Lucy is a chemical engineer with soft skills in the arts, which is a combination she says blends well for her in her professional and personal life.
On the latest episode of the KTN Home’s Her Standards, we are introduced to her. She speaks six languages including Kamba, Kikuyu, French, German, Kiswahili and English. She explains how she became a polyglot.
“My mother is Kikuyu and my father was a Kamba, so we had to learn both languages. In high school, I studied French, which had me envisioning trips to Paris. When I joined the workforce, I had an opportunity to train in Germany,” she says.
The engineer opens up about her father passing when she was 12. Her mother wanted her to continue in her father’s footsteps by becoming a doctor.
“When I started my career I would attend meetings where clients would not deduce I was the engineer. Now, I am confident in my career. I am trying to change those stereotypes. I have made sure to add ‘Engineer’ on all of my social media platforms and email signatures, so when I walk into a meeting they immediately welcome me as Engineer Lucy.”
She also opens up on how she became the boss lady she is today and what moved her to take an ecological approach to her business. Lucy notes that growing up in the village inspired her to be eco-friendly by taking care of the greenery around their home in Ukambani.
She only came to Nairobi after her university studies and was shocked at how the authorities treated waste.
“I came to the city to look for work opportunities. However, I was not impressed with the amenities, like going over sewer lines as I moved around to make job applications, which prompted me to find a solution to the menace. After four years in the workforce, I received a scholarship to go to Germany and while there, I saw how they would recycle sewer water into clean water that would flow back into the city. This inspired me to bring that idea back to Kenya as a business,” she says.
“It all boils down to being prepared, having the dream, having the mindset and always putting in the work. It has been constant searching and yearning for the next thing that inspires me.”
Lucy now serves on the board of the Federation of African Engineering Organisations as a member of the Committee on Governance and Ethics, which she says is exciting and challenging as she shares the voices of engineers at a continental level.
“The fact that it touches on governance and ethics, which is all about integrity is special to me as I am big on integrity and in the fight against corruption, which is a big problem in Kenya. I also hold the position as the first vice president of the institution of engineers of Kenya, as one of the youngest appointees which I hope inspires other young lady engineers to embrace their calling to lead,” she says.
She says that she is also part of the women in STEM, which is now a big movement. It stands for women who are part of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s related professions which had her fly out to the US and get exposed to the way they do things in silicon valley for more inspiration.
“My biggest accomplishment is being founder of Eco Cycle Limited, which I have been running for eight years; we install machines that turn sewage back to clean water in your compound,” says Lucy.
She also shares the prestigious accomplishment of being part of the top 40 under 40.
“Growing up, we thought that some things were only reserved for men. Treat all opportunities as equal - opportunities are fair play as it all depends on your knowledge, your dreams and your ability to learn. Go for your dreams. Also, know that struggle is part of the game; do not get discouraged if you do not find immediate success but always prepare to perform when the opportunity presents itself,” she says.
Lucy talks about balancing all the roles considering she wears many hats. She says that being a professional and having a family is not easy and that a support system is the most important thing to have.
“Families are the basic unit of society and you need to be able to hold that together to function in your professional life. We are not superhuman, but you need to master the art of the support system and your network,” she says.