She must be used to hearing this but I thought she would be taller. Julie Gichuru is diminutive. When she walks in, her high heels disappear into the hem of her jeans, pooling under her feet and grazing the floor. She looks all of 21 and her thick hair, aided by extensions because she cut it off a few years back, falls down her back. She is so chirpy and perky it’s contagious. Do not be fooled. She has been known to bite.
Today, she is group digital manager and television host at Citizen TV and her shows have been known to claim their
pound of flesh.
When I ask how old she is, she throws back, “How old do I look?” Were it not for the heavy lifting of political and societal cultural weights she does so effortlessly, one might underestimate her. “There is nothing wrong with people looking at you and thinking you are an airhead. In fact it is a good thing. That way they are the ones who have to deal with you when you finally show your smarts.”
Her career is unrivalled and she has worked in some of the biggest media houses in Kenya. Perhaps because of her girl next door demeanour, she is also something of a Kenyan sweetheart who registers on the stylish personalities radar regularly. Her soft voice and youthful almost girlie looks make her vastly approachable.
Is there a grand plan and a business mastermind at hand, one wonders? “I am the kind of person who does not plan what I do in my career. In fact my husband would find it quite amusing that we are even having this conversation.”
True Love’s last meeting with Julie was in 2006. She was introduced to us as a grieving mother, having lost her son in the most unfortunate of circumstances. We cried with her, felt her pain, and saw her healing begin. Nearly five years later, she has more to offer. This time joyous and celebratory.
For one, she is working with UNICEF on a Baby Banda campaign, teaching women about breastfeeding. “I remember breastfeeding my two babies once in a doctor’s waiting room with women looking at me oddly before asking the doctor if that was normal! My mother kept asking me why I was still breastfeeding my son Kimoshe at four. I had to remind her that it was my baby and it was my house.”
UNICEF simply called her out of the blue. She gets a number of these calls. She gives talks about digital things, motherhood, parenting, women and careers, motivating young people and moderating on issues of national cohesion.
She is also a fellow and trustee member of the African Leadership Initiative, part of the Young Global Leaders, under the World Economic Forum, and has won a Salute to Greatness Award from the Martin Luther King Foundation in 2008. Aspen Global Leadership Network and African Global Leadership made a bid for her participation and now she flies around the world, taking part.
Her involvement came after the post election violence during which time she participated in peace initiatives. She was then nominated and asked to train as an Aspen moderator. The other was done by a committee with Queen Rania. They sent her a message and said her name was put forward as a contender. Where does she find time? “I always think there is an opportunity to learn or teach something. There have been many things that have come my way but I have to ask myself if it fits in line with who I am.” She has to find time for her main job though between digital and hosting. “I think very soon it is going to be at an inflection point because of all the things I am doing.”…..
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