Angela Wamola: Kenyan Woman Who Rose From an ‘E’ student to Head of Strategy and Planning at Safaricom

by Paul Nyongesa

In the narrative of academic success, a Grade ‘E’ often carries with it a stigma, and those who receive it are unfairly branded as failures with limited prospects. Angela Wamola’s journey, however, serves as a powerful testament to the fact that grades do not dictate destiny.

Rising above societal expectations, Angela is now the Head of Strategy and Planning at Safaricom, one of Africa’s leading integrated communications companies.

Angela, a Nairobi native, candidly describes herself as the ‘black sheep’ of her family when it came to education. Despite facing challenges with subjects like Math and Physics, she decided to take an unexpected turn in Form Three.

The turning point came when students were asked to choose courses for university, and Angela, influenced by the perceived coolness of her engineer uncle, opted for Civil Engineering at the University of Nairobi.

Her journey in university began with challenges that seemed insurmountable, with classes running from 8 am to 5 pm. Angela found herself envying friends pursuing less demanding courses, and the struggle with pure Mathematics and Physics made her contemplate giving up.

Yet, it was her determination and attitude that proved to be the linchpin for her success.

Despite being one of only six women in her class, Angela persevered. Her third year marked a turning point, and what seemed difficult initially became more manageable. Angela reflects, “From what I went through, I learnt that attitude could make or destroy you.”

After five years of hard work, Angela graduated in 1999 with a second upper-class honors degree in Civil Engineering. Her initial passion for roads engineering evolved as she adapted to the demands of the job market, leading her into IT-related fields.

Angela’s career took flight when she joined Safaricom in 2011. Starting with IT support, she faced initial skepticism from male colleagues who underestimated her physical abilities. Undeterred, Angela rose through the ranks, eventually heading the core network planning and support department, breaking gender barriers as the first senior woman in the division’s leadership team.

Her journey continued to unfold, and Angela’s hard work and innovative thinking positioned her as the Head of Strategy and Planning within Safaricom’s technology division. In this role, she played a pivotal part in designing and supporting Safaricom’s core network, voice and data services, national backbone, and enterprise solutions.

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