When I meet her, she is reading Mike Clayton’s Brilliant Influence, a masterpiece on communication — what she defines as the art of life.
Meet Beatrice Wababu the master of human communication. As we take the stairs up to her fourth floor apartment in Kileleshwa, there is an ambience of peace that plays around her personality. Poised astride the width at the entrance to the house, her smile is conspicuous; her hair rested, and her eyes quite welcoming.
“I studied Communication at Daystar University,” she answers when I probe to know her area of specialty.
That’s not all that Beatrice has up her sleeves. Her knowledge of the subject and in-depth analytical eyes make her something of a wonk in this field of behavioural science.
With a meek propensity to words and just the right amount of self-adoration, Beatrice admits that she is probably among a few; the crème de la crème of Kenya’s communications/public relations experts.
“It’s something I love doing: I found what fit my psyche. It’s an art of life because even when we are in thick silence, we are saying something to those around us. There is no such statement as, ‘I never communicate with anybody.’”
Something salient about her persona may hoodwink you into thinking she was born structured in the ways of ‘communication’. However, the strong exuberance and contentedness she exudes began with failure.
She explains: “My ambition from my childhood was to be a lawyer. It never crossed my mind – not even in the slightest whiff – that I would want to become something else. I had my strong points; the knack to voice up what I believed in and a love for the arts: History and CRE.”
Beatrice believed in herself. The first born in a family of seven, her parents made sure she completed her A-levels, graduating from Form Six among the top performers in her class. Though well above average, Beatrice attained nine points – falling short of the pre-requisite ten points.
“I was disappointed but still stoic in my plans to realise my dreams,” states Beatrice. “I took up jobs to keep myself busy. First, as a volunteer at Nanyuki Cortege Hospital for about six months. I then joined Katangi High School in Machakos as an untrained teacher, teaching History and CRE.”
It was while teaching at Katangi that she encountered warm compliments that made her realise that she was cut out to ‘communicate’.
“It dawned on me that I was good at analytical skills of communication. This same aspect of my personality informed the leverage I had towards Law.”
Like a steady fog, ideas engulfed her mind. By the time she decided to apply for a degree in Public Relations at Daystar University, Beatrice’s star was set for a vertical rise towards the pinnacle of the industry.
After four years in school, she graduated and joined the communications department at NSSF. Witty, restless and tropic towards challenges, Beatrice would dunk the old hog and hop onto Tuskys Supermarket chain stores to teach customer relations.
Today, Beatrice seats at the helm of Wapcom Ventures Limited as the CEO and chief trainer. Through Wapcom, a business she co-runs with her husband Jonathan Wababu, she has met the who-is-who in Africa.
She still recalls the moment she was invited as a speaker in a forum that included Ghana’s magnanimous ex-president, John Kufuor.
But prior to that, Beatrice went through a rollercoaster of intrepid moments.
“I interviewed for a well-paying job, got picked and resigned after three weeks,” she says in a chuckle.
“This was after I realised that my reasons for seeking employment were superficial.”
Almost everybody who heard about it received it with some pinch of animus. It didn’t help very much to know that she was chosen out of a pool that included her lecturer at Daystar.
But luck (or maybe her zeal) was generous to fault. She managed to resign from the communications director position at Africa Nazarene University (ANU) – where her skills had already borne fruits within the three weeks she was in office – to create and run Wapcom.
“The HR director couldn’t believe that I was leaving. He had told me on several occasions that Anu had finally found the right person for the job. As much as I was elated to be held in such high regard, my mind was made up – I owed it to myself to make the right call,” she says coyly.
“My husband told me that I had a lot of potential that lay unutilised. He supported me through that period of transition and I emerged happier and more fulfilled with my job.”
Beatrice is truly in love with her trade. She holds a Masters degree in Communication and Development Studies.
She plans to start her doctoral studies in Communications and PR.
“I believe that there is always something new and fresh to learn. I am also setting the pace for my daughters and son,” says Beatrice.
Through her work, she has trained staff at leading law firms and corporate companies. Had she made the ten points needed to study Law, she would be sitting on the same seats her students use instead of addressing the class from the board.
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“My work pretty much involves training staff and instilling in them the necessary skills to optimally produce at work. Communication is in all aspects of our lives; as a boss, as a teacher, as an employee, as … anything,” she raps.
As I leave, I notice at one corner of her living room is a memoir board with a photo of her graduation day.
On it, her mother signs off: “Dear daughter, I am proud of you.”
It wouldn’t be very hard to understand why a mother would be proud of such a daughter.
Before it’s officially adios, Beatrice offers this nugget of wisdom: “If you have a talent, people around you will notice; don’t ignore them.”