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

In the narrative of academic achievement, a Grade ‘E’ often carries a stigma, unfairly branding recipients as failures with limited prospects. Angela Wamola’s journey, however, stands as a powerful testament to the idea that grades do not necessarily dictate one’s destiny.

Defying societal expectations, Angela currently holds the position of Head of Strategy and Planning at Safaricom, a prominent integrated communications company in Africa.

A native of Nairobi, Angela openly describes herself as the ‘black sheep’ of her family when it comes to education. Despite encountering difficulties in subjects like Math and Physics, she took an unexpected turn in Form Three.

The pivotal moment occurred when students were selecting university courses. Influenced by the perceived prestige of her engineer uncle, Angela chose Civil Engineering at the University of Nairobi.

Her university journey commenced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, with classes running from 8 am to 5 pm. Angela found herself envying friends pursuing less demanding courses, and the struggles with pure Mathematics and Physics led her to contemplate giving up.

However, her determination and attitude emerged as the key factors in her success.

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