A Young Manager

I was 19 years old when I got hired at Supplements Kenya Ltd. They were opening a new branch at the Aga Khan Sports Centre, The Health Shoppe, and were hiring. I got hired on the spot. They were partners. I had two bosses. Great people.

Got trained… Learnt about nutrition, all sorts of supplements. How to take protein shakes, amino acids, fat burners etc. The Health Shoppe has a top range of products and brands, anything and everything to do with fitness and taking care of yourself. Imported from the USA and around the world.

A couple of months in, for very personal reasons I had to leave. I was only there from June to October. But I honestly didn’t like the fact that I had to leave.

Over the December holidays, one of the ex bosses and I were chatting on Skype and asked me what happened etc and that I should come in for a meeting. A general talk. Went in. Had a coffee and we talked.

This meeting took place in the new branch, on Mpaka Road. Wires hanging all over the place. No tiles. No lighting etc. And I was being offered the position of a Manager. Not a sales girl anymore. As now they had two branches. Was told to think about it and get back to them.

I rejoined the company on the 1st Monday of the New Year. Posted back at Aga Khan Sports Centre and now had people under me. Had to train them with all that I was taught, and tips and tricks that I picked up on and learnt during my few months the year before.

Because they were expanding so fast, we started hiring even more. And they mainly wanted to hire girls. I got in touch with friends I went to college with, who were looking for jobs too. They all got hired.

Weeks in, I found myself turning into this mean-machine. It was not a pretty sight. My “friends” whom we hired, were no longer my friends. They were people working under me. Everything changed. Could also be because we were too many women working together? Or that they wouldn’t take me seriously, younger than them, and we studied at the same college. So to be more authoritative, I cut off the friendship part. Bad idea.

Come May, the Westlands branch was ready. We set up. Shelved up. I was posted at what was now the Head Office. Had my own little cubical and all. It was very cool and now even more convenient.

Literally weeks at the Head Office and they managed to get a hold of the most perfect spot in Central Business District. They were expanding fast. Training got bumped up. Staff members got bumped up. Everything was moving so fast.

They introduced new products and I had to push myself harder to learn over 120 new products in the shortest time possible. And to train the rest as well.

On the other hand, there was a lot of back office work. Invoices, banking, duty roster, salaries etc. Supplying to other companies. Handling those accounts. It was just so overwhelming.

I gave my resignation at the beginning of August. I was done. The same boss who asked me to come in for a chat, gave me back my resignation letter. Said he’s not going to accept it. But I had made my mind up. I made it even worse for them by taking leave days without pay, saying that I wanted to leave earlier than the end of the notice. I had just turned 21 that August and I left days before. Not like I was even going to go to another job. I was going to be sitting at home now.

They asked me to come in and do a handover and that was it. The end of one of the best jobs I ever had. And I don’t mean best in the sense of status or money. I just thoroughly enjoyed the job. The knowledge, the challenges, meeting new people every single day. Selling. Marketing. It was loads of fun.

Do I regret leaving? No.

Everything has a time and place. That job taught me so much, at such a young age. Also with having personal stuff going on at the same time. It was life changing.

There are things that I would never do again. Or handle differently now. Making conscious decisions and dealing with people differently. If I had my own business, I would know how to handle it. Especially how to handle people I employ and be very careful for that matter with whom I employ.

And moreover, if I hadn’t left Supplements Kenya Ltd. I wouldn’t have landed myself back on radio and working with East Africa’s biggest media house, Radio Africa Group.

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