Growing up, Anne Ikenye, now 24, wanted to become a doctor. An incident in high school however made her shelve this ambition.
“A friend got seriously injured, and the sight of all that blood scared me. I realised then that I could never become a doctor,” she says.
After this, she went through a difficult time trying to decide which career to pursue, since medicine was out of the question.
“I considered interior design, but at the same time I wanted to become an architect. Furthermore, I was extremely good in Physics and thought a career as an engineer would suit me. I wanted to be everything!”
Fast forward to today; her current career as a senior partner with Pacific Realty, based in Ruai, Nairobi, allows her to indulge in all her passions.
“I coordinate the entire building process, from the initial planning and budgeting through to the final coat of paint on the last wall. This gives me the opportunity to be an interior designer, an engineer, an architect and more, all wrapped into one with a ribbon on it,” she says.
Anne’s field of work is highly unpredictable and no two days are alike. She gives us a snapshot of what a typical day is like for her.
If you’re not disciplined enough to be an early riser, then the construction industry isn’t for you. My alarm goes off at 4am. I use the first hour praying, meditating and reading the Bible. I might watch a motivational video on YouTube or read a chapter from an inspirational book. This helps me start the day inspired and in high spirit.
Later, I make sure I have a healthy and filling breakfast, usually sweet potatoes and tea. In my line of work, things might get hectic to a point where I forget to have lunch, so a hearty breakfast is vital.
I start the commute to Ruai, where our offices are located. If I’m driving, I’ll be listening to audiobooks in the car. The commute to my office takes less than 20 minutes.
I aim to get to the office a few minutes before 6am since this is when I can get some quiet to compose myself before my secretary, partners and other staff arrive. I take this time to go through my schedule for the day and fine tune the reports and designs that will be used. I also use the time to reply to emails to avoid getting distracted by them when out in the field. Later on, I draft detailed house plans for my new clients which I then design on the computer to produce 3D models. Coming up with a good design for one client is a process that can take several days to complete.
My midmorning is mostly spent with clients. We get about four potential clients daily, who ask us to make their projects become a reality, mostly residential houses. These are people looking to commit projects worth millions of shillings in our hands, and it is my job to convince them that we’re the right candidates for the job.
Occasionally, I will use this time to take prospective clients to the field and show them some of the projects we’ve worked on in the past to win them over.
In the afternoon, I slip into my work boots, safety hat and reflective jacket, then head to the construction sites.
I make a point of visiting each of the construction sites that I manage at least three times a week. As a manager, my presence within the actual construction activities is essential so as to motivate and boost the esteem of the workers, because it shows the level of interest that the management has in the project.
Here, I receive updates from the site manager and ask questions about the safety of the labour force. The foreman usually presents to me a weekly report of how site materials have been used. This is important because in some cases, without close supervision, construction workers might pilfer building materials, leading to budget overruns.
By this time, most of the construction work is already done and our sites are closed for the day. I head back to the office briefly to leave my gear and file the project reports. Here, I take some time to reflect on that day’s progress before heading home.
If I’m too tired to cook supper, I often order a take-away from a nearby restaurant when I get home. I socialise with my friends and family mostly through social media, mostly WhatsApp and Facebook. I later decompress by watching a movie or catching up on a TV series. Currently, I am watching an episode or two of Baby Daddy.
This is when I go to bed, always after watching the 9pm news. My work phone is always on though. Once or twice I’ve had to solve issues that arose in our construction sites in the middle of the night.