Joanne Mwangi, CEO & Enabler of PMS Group (Professional Marketing Services); Nairobi, Kenya

Words of Wisdom: “Lead your best life’ – whatever calling is for you, don’t make any apologies for it. Do what you feel for your heart of hearts.” – Joanne Mwangi


Interview with Joanne Mwangi, CEO & Enabler of PMS Group (Professional Marketing Services); Nairobi, Kenya

Joanne Mwangi, CEO & Enabler of PMS Group (Professional Marketing Services); Nairobi, Kenya

The best embodiment of the PMS Group slogan: All Round Marketing Expertise. Professional Marketing Services was founded by Joanne Mwangi in the late 1990’s. Joanne is an exceptional marketer with over 20 years experience in marketing and agency related work. She is a BA graduate with an MBA in Marketing and her other accomplishments are too many to list here, but she has them.

Joanne is the 1st woman to be awarded an MSK Warrior Award. She has served in various capacities in both private and public sector. Apart from being a very active CEO, she wears many hats and has served as Chair of many organizations. She is currently the Chair of Federation of Women Entrepreneur Associations (FEWA), Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) as well as Eastern Africa Women Entrepreneur Exchange Network Kenya Chapter (EAWEEXN). She is also the chair of the Advertising Standards Council and an accomplished Rotarian.

Joanne Mwangi YouTube promo video (approx. 2 min.)

Suzanne F Stevens episode Perspective blog: An evolution not a revolution

PMS Group website:

Joanne Mwangi, CEO & Enabler of PMS Group (Professional Marketing Services); Nairobi, Kenya

Note: The key messages in the interview have been transcribed and slightly altered for legibility and succinctness. More information is provided in the audio and video version above. Please comment on the site, we want to hear your wisdom!

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: Leadership Lessons Learned?

[ Joanne Mwangi ]:

  1. Leadership is not a choice, the minute you have something to offer to someone else, you need to carry yourself as a leaders
  2. Despite passion, you need to achieve results
  3. You need to move with the group and not be too far ahead of them; if you are too far ahead all you are doing is taking a walk. There needs to be succession of leaders.
  4. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be the girl inside of you, not always a suit.

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: Edgeness Insight (An enhanced version of you when you push the edge of your comfort zone).

Q. What did you do that makes you very uncomfortable but by continuing to do it you achieved your objective and meet a more enhanced version of you?

[ Joanne Mwangi ]: I was required to go to different countries to execute on a project. For me it was a challenge, because I needed to be creditable and deliver on the promise. So I did backbreaking work to learn the culture of the other countries. Hired a team. I stretched myself and found the formula to be successful in other countries. We still operate in those countries today.

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: Personal Lessons Learned?

[ Joanne Mwangi ]:

  • Plan to raise enough finances to last you past your first six months of business
  • Don’t rely on the people you know for finances, it is the people you don’t know that will make difference in success or failure.
  • Networking is key
  • Need to have six months worth of finances or more
  • It is important to peruse your teams’ personal goals and the organization’s goals simultaneously
  • As an entrepreneur you need to recognize that you don’t have all the answers
  • Separate your personal income from your company revenue
  • Hire a professional accountant soon as you start your business
  • Pay yourself a salary so you can organize your life
  • Pay your taxes every month rather than paying them in a lump sum, this will provide peace of mind.

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: Measure of Success?

[ Joanne Mwangi ]:

  • As a CEO – Profitability ratio, ROI, shareholder value are the key measures
  • Personally – how sustainable is my business; have I trained enough people to run the business; also how many people have walk through the doors and have been impacted and guided to work more professionally, and became more effective marketers.
  • That people have been affected personally and have a better quality of life because they have worked here.

[ Suzanne ]: Benefits of being an Entrepreneur?

[ Joanne ]:

  • When I started, I believed I could work when I wanted and how much I wanted. Later I realized that was not the case.
  • Best part – seeing your dream grow and become a reality
  • To see how the PMS Group has had ripple effect and impacted so many families. Great opportunity to touch other peoples lives.

[ Suzanne ]: Most difficult thing about being an entrepreneur?

[ Joanne ]:

  • Responsibility that the buck stops with you
  • People depending on you to make the right decision
  • As a student of management I learned that CEO dictates on 30% of organization, another 30% of the middle management and the last 30% basically follow what the other two are doing. I realize the responsibility of that 30%, as it will impact how they live their lives.
  • I have higher standard to live up to
  • Not being told you did a good job; I learned to congratulate myself.
  • Participating in award programs can assist with this challenge, like KPMG business of the year program.

[ Suzanne ]: Leadership Insights?

[ Joanne ]:

  • Ask professional organizations how you are more effective; specifically ask organizations providing awards how to improve on award criteria i.e. KPMG.
  • Have financials in order, hire a professional, take a salary and pay your taxes
  • Challenge self; surround yourself with experts to see if you measure up
  • Tempted to quite? Go back to original plan and ask yourself “what have you achieved, what have you not achieved, and why haven’t you achieved it?”

[ Suzanne ]: Key to Success?

[ Joanne ]: Getting human resources and finances in-line.

Reflective Realizations by Joanne Mwangi

Q. What advice would you give a daughter of 10yrs.?
You are wonderful and you can do anything.
“I would leave my daughter free to do what they want”

Q. What do you wish someone told you when you were a child?
“I wish people told me about ‘life skills’ not just career, so much focus on a good career, more about interact with other people, particularly relationships.”

Q. If a magic wand and if you can do something differently personally or professionally?
“I would have hired more people earlier, and grow into the region and Africa sooner. I would have partnered with people in various regions sooner.

Q. What responsibility do you have to Kenyan women and Africa women as a whole?
“Great responsibility, the minute given the opportunity to stand out, I am responsible to keep doing it; not let the down the course for Africa.”

“Not let the dream die, we have the staying power, we need work together most importantly”

“It has been seen that “ ‘women are the worse enemy’ – that is false and we need prove at the high-test level.”


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    2 replies to "Joanne Mwangi"

    • angella wangari kariuki

      the day was set ,it was sunny i’am on king’ara road with my collegue,and we made fun of the gate with the pms sign on it,later on and for days that followed – down king’ara road i’d look at the gate -with the Kenya top 100 mid sized companies -2010 awards.I had this sheepish grin that has seen me seek to appreciate what women like joanne mwangi stand for
      :passion,persistence,comittment,and with this achievements

      thank you

    • Natalia Were

      Thanks for the interviewees you bring on board, you are breaking the norms, as they say you can bring a monkey out of the forest, but not the forest in it, for me you have removed the villageness in me despite being brought up in the village, with a village mind set.

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