It’s been a while since I launched my series, Women Who Inspire, a series where I highlight women who inspire me, especially here in Kenya. Here’s the second edition in this series.
Growing up, when asked about my role models, I’d always tend to give the basic, predictable answers, while yearning to actually find someone to look up to.
Of course, as I grew up, I realized that as my views on feminism were developed by several pieces of art by powerful women from all over the world, I was really just looking for a young, contemporary woman to mentor and encourage me to harness my passion and skills into a sustainable career path.
I believe mentoring is important because not only can professional socialization and personal support impact a young person, but can also provide a quality insight into a successful career and can motivate one to work hard to live their dream.
One such person who has had such an impact on me is Shreya Karia. We crossed paths several years ago, when after a ton of procrastination while following her career journey from the sidelines, I reached out to her looking for an internship at her PR firm, SHK consulting. Due to circumstances including the lack of accessibility among other things, I didn’t take up the internship offer. However, Shreya and I struck up a mutual relationship, where she now actively mentors me, guiding and inspiring me to be a better person, both in and outside of my career. We even went painting together! With an extensive background in public relations, marketing, and brand strategy within the luxury segment, Shreya has come a long way since her university days where she studied International Business and Management in Australia and then, a Masters in Entrepreneurial Management in London.
Having worked across three continents: Australia, Europe and here in Africa, Shreya’s passion for her work coupled with wanting to drive the ‘Africa rising’ movement to the forefront was the inspiration behind setting up her niche consultancy, SHK Consulting, seven years ago. Prior to starting her own company, Shreya left her mark on brands such as Stella McCartney and LVMH where she worked in their press offices as well as Starwood Hotels. She is also one of the co-founders of Taste, a Kenyan company that brought the award-winning Taste Awards.
Since then, through offering bespoke marketing, communications and experiential concept services for clientele in the premium segment, SHK Consulting has worked with local and international brands include Forbes Africa, Remy Martin, Fairmont Hotel, Knight Frank and Hendrick’s Gin to name a few. At our last meeting, Shreya and I discussed a range of things. I made a list of questions to really learn from her. When I asked her about her obstacles, she said the biggest one is herself: “I’m the only one stopping me from doing, being and achieving everything I want.” Just think about it. Seriously, just stop, stop scrolling. Take a screenshot and remember that you are your biggest obstacle.
Outside of work, Shreya likes to workout. Fitness is something she’s very passionate about, especially after she fell into the world of boxing. She says it helps her “stay focused and calms the mind”. It also serves as a constant reminder to her that she can achieve anything if she puts in the work, “In boxing, it really is 100% you. You can’t blame anyone else or make excuses. Win or lose, it’s on you.” Beyond that, she continues to explore the world of brands as a columnist for the Business Daily, through which she hopes more start-ups can take away practical insights to apply to their businesses. Having lived in many places, she’s a travel addict, who reads, bakes and loves “anything about mixology”. I mean, you can totally see why we get along, right?
Here’s a fun fact for you. Having hobbies outside of work and school is important to help you not just feel good but also to develop other skills that’ll help you in life. So what are your hobbies? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
When I asked Shreya about what she’s most proud of, her answer surprised me as I was expecting something about a milestone in her professional life, but instead she says “I always feel the proudest when I see someone who worked with me or someone I have mentored blossom and go on to find their own path. That brings me so much joy.” I’m not sure if it was just to stroke my ego but her words definitely made my heart warm. If given the opportunity, what would she do differently? Being more selective about who she has let into her life in the past. It’s about being around people who inspire and bring joy, “people who have their own vibe going on and are owning their own skin”. These kinds of people are the ones who lift you up in the most beautiful ways personally and professionally.
Her parents are her biggest influencers, she says as she goes on to describe them with a big smile on her face. “My mum because she made me see that there’s no glass ceiling that a girl can’t break. And my dad because in everything I do he shows me that we must accomplish it with humility and a sense of gratitude.”For Shreya, a balanced life is easily described in four simple words: “Work (out) / Pray / Eat / Love.” We then discussed alternative careers which mine would be if anyone is asking, a detective or a research scientist in biology (especially the DNA), but Shreya’s is quite a muted though befitting choice, a teacher.
Of course, when talking about life, she says she is “learning to self-love”, something we all really should work on as we strive to achieve all those other goals.
As I wrap up, I hope you can see why Shreya truly inspires me. Not only does she carry herself with class, but she goes beyond a successful work life, to live a fulfilling life, one to remember.
Photos courtesy of Shreya Karia