She is customer experience and corporate communications specialist with more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality, banking and public sector in both Kenya and the US.
Meet Wavi Mungala, the certified customer journey architect, Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) member and an active member of the Institute of Customer Experience – Kenya.
Wavi currently serves as the Head of Corporate Communication and Customer Experience at the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), loves sunflowers, and she boasts of at least 30 books a year.
Wavi shared a bit about herself and her journey that has landed her at the HELB offices, where she exercises her passion of instigating transformation in the organisation to ensure those who come for service leave smiling.
“Growing up, I was always fascinated by the hospitality industry, and I remember telling my folks that one day I want to work in big hotels like Serena and Sarova,” she said.
Wavi Mungala. PHOTO/COURTESY
She added: “My folks have always encouraged us to do what we are passionate about as long as we excel in it. That is how I ended up with a BSc in Hotel Management from USIU. At USIU, I graduated top of my class with Magna Cum Laude honors,”
After graduating, Wavi got an internship in the US through the American Hospitality Academy and worked with the Hilton Hotels before moving to the Marriott Hotels where she worked for close to 5 years.
“As I worked, I also studied for my MSc. Operations Management at the Friends University, KS,” she said.
Return to Kenya
She returned to Kenya from the US in February 2008 after the post-election violence when the hotel industry was grappling with international travel advisories and this posed her first career quagmire.
“I was faced with my first career crossroads because the hospitality industry was not hiring. Matter of fact was that a lot of hotels were closed!”
However, July 2008 would throw an opportunity her way.
“I saw a full-page advert by KCB Bank for Management Trainees. I paused and read it over a couple of times and then asked myself; ‘what would I lose by applying?’ So, I took a risk, repackaged myself and how my skills set would add value and applied for a management trainee at KCB Bank.”
Wavi spent 7 years at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) as a Brand Marketing Manager in the Marketing Division, Customer Service Manager at the Retail Banking Division and Retail Service Experience Manager overseeing more than over 200 branches.
“My learning curve was quite steep in the first two years at the bank but I was determined to go the extra mile to put in the extra hours and learn. I was also deliberate to transition to a new role every two years. My experience at KCB allowed me to truly grow my brand marketing, retail banking, contact centre and customer experience skills.”
In 2014, she signed up for the Program for Management Development at the Strathmore Business School to expand her leadership skills and grow her networks.
“My parents having been career civil servants, I was open to Public Service. That is how I ended up at my current job as Head of Corporate Communication and Customer Experience at the Higher Education Loans Board from October 2015,” Wavi revealed.
At HELB she was tasked to set up a new department, modern contact centre, fusing service delivery between the head office and Huduma Centres and run media and marketing campaigns to drive loan uptake and loan repayment.
“I now lead a team of over 75 staff and have championed citizen service delivery with various awards as a testament to the transformation of HELB Customer Experience. Whilst there is always room for improvement, I am immensely proud of the progress we have achieved in improving service delivery at HELB,” she said gleefully.
She believes this leaves an impact on thousands of Kenyan youth who would not have a chance to pursue higher education with the dignity they deserve, without HELB.
Wavi also shared some of the most crucial lessons that have been useful in her illustrious career path.
One of her favourite quotes is by Bill Gates, “Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.”
“There is a tendency to focus on New Year goals that are typically unachievable. In 2008, I chose to work with 5-year plans for my career where I would challenge myself to learn a whole new skill set and possibly even in a different sector, where possible, and seek relevant certification in addition to on-the-job experience.”
Some of the awards Wavi has under her belt while at HELB include Best in Reputation & Crisis Management at the PRSK Awards 2019, Digital Brand of the Year for the #TwendeTulipeHELB Campaign at the Digital Media Awards 2019 and Best Communication Strategy at the Institute of Customer Experience Kenya (Customer Service Week Awards, 2016 & 2017).
Wavi Mungala receiving an award. PHOTO/COURTESY
The versatile communications specialist has also been a judge in the 2018 and 2019 Zuri Awards, is a member of the 2020 Integrated Marketing Committee for the Kenya Export Promotion & Branding Council and was recently elected a member of the PRSK Crisis Communication Committee.
“When I look back at my career, I have had a balance of both male and female bosses. Some of whom were instrumental in shaping my view of work and what it takes to succeed
“At the beginning of my career, the focus was to understand what was expected of me, go above and beyond and execute with military precision. As I got into management at the age of 26, I had to begin to transition towards fostering winning teams. The balance between team performance management and motivation is crucial because only then would I be able to grow in my career.”
Integrity and tenacity are the two values she finds most important to live by and shape one’s work.
“When I told my dad that I would be joining public service, he sat me down and gave me some advice about having retired as a senior civil servant. He reminded me not to be greedy, to always be grateful for what I got remunerated and serve with integrity as this would give me peace of mind even when temptations or false accusations came my way.”
As a tenacious person, Wavi commits to three things;
1. Takes personal responsibility for her success and will put in the effort required to succeed.
2. Sets stretch goals, and then does whatever it takes to achieve them.
3. Appreciates that stuff happens and acknowledges she will encounter problems and setbacks along the way.
Wavi Muigai is known for her leadership, organizational and execution skills and developing winning teams.
“I am a big believer in giving audiences the right information in a clear and timely manner. I am also inclined to seek solutions to move forward in positive ways.
“I am especially keen to provide as best a working environment as I can for my teams, and that is why I championed for mother's rooms at HELB in 2018 to allow for lactating mothers to express, safely store their milk and remain productive at work.”
But Wavi is not all work and no play and closes by saying, “My friends and family will tell you that I am fun, loyal and dependable.”