Meet Olive from Kenya
Name: Olive Wachera Maitha
Home Country and City: Kenya, Nairobi
Programme of Study: Master\'s Programme in Business Development and Internationalization
Personal Interests: Traveling, making friends and learning new things by sharing experiences.
Favourite thing about Umeå University: The diverse cultures and the awesome people you get to meet. It’s so easy to fit in here.
Favourite Swedish word or custom: Fika
Three words to summarise your time in Umeå: Fun, adventure and different.
What is your educational and professional background?
I have a bachelor\'s degree in Commerce specializing in Human Resource Management, a post graduate diploma also in Human Resource Management and soon a master\'s in Entrepreneurship. I have worked as an intern in Finance for an advisory firm; I have been an administrator in an NGO, a Human Resources Assistant in a distribution company and a Human Resources Manager in a manufacturing firm.
Why did you choose to enrol in your degree programme at Umeå University?
My country is still developing and jobs are few, small businesses are what we need to help Kenya realize its full potential. Umeå University offers entrepreneurship among its various business courses, just what I need to contribute towards Kenya’s growth.
What do you like most about your programme?
The students and lecturers are from all over the world and from different cultures. This allows me to get a different perspective of how businesses are run in the various countries. I get to understand why they do things how they do them and I have learnt a thing or two I would like to take back to my home job market.
What is the most interesting thing you learned in your programme or courses so far?
Simulations, I got to make decisions that determined the future of a firm. I sat in a board of sorts with my colleagues and we based our plans of action on the market trends, past experiences and potential competitor actions and reactions. Some decisions were more time sensitive than others. Some consequences were immediate and some were visible in the long term but at the end of the day I felt like I was running a real company. It was an invaluable experience.
What do you do when you are not studying?
Having a good time. I love going for parties, having dinners with friends, shopping (like every girl), travelling when I can and more recently the gym (IKSU). Joining a buddy group is an awesome way to make new friends and get exciting things to do together, I highly recommend it.
What is your impression of Umeå and the surrounding areas?
At first I was a bit uncomfortable because it is smaller than Nairobi, the capital of Kenya where am from, but it grew on me. I now look forward to the peace and quiet, that I can walk alone at night and feel safe. Most places are within walking distance but most of all, Umeå is amazingly beautiful.
What do you find as the biggest cultural difference, both socially and educationally, from your country with Sweden?
Swedes are very honest and reserved but once you get to know them they are very nice people. I was surprised that you bring your own food and drinks for parties but considering we are all students, I guess it makes sense to share the cost. Educationally, the method of examination is different but I like the new challenge.
What you would say or what advice would you give to another international student thinking of attending Umeå University?
I would say pack and come running; Umeå is a great place to be. The people are nice and friendly, the housing is awesome, and the international community is huge and accommodates all cultures. Regardless of where you are from, you will fit in. The courses offered are taught well, the lecturers are approachable and you get to evaluate them and even make suggestions on how to improve the courses.
What are your career aspirations?
I plan to start up a consultancy firm in Kenya to offer advice on talent and performance management, entrepreneurship and business development for small and medium sized organizations for an international market.