After nearly 28 years in the corporate realm, Rebecca Miano, the Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade, and Industry seamlessly transitioned to a role that demanded not only expertise but also a profound understanding of the intricacies of political dynamics.
In an exclusive interview with KBC, Miano shares insights into the inspirations that fueled her rise, tracing her path from a modest upbringing to becoming a prominent figure in President William Ruto’s government.
Who is Rebecca Miano?
Born in Ndaragua, Nyandarua County, Miano’s early years were marked by the pursuit of education against the backdrop of a large family comprising 13 siblings.
“It was not an easy life, I had 13 siblings so we were 14 and you can imagine at that time in such a family there are no luxuries, but our parents were determined to ensure each one of us goes to school. The determination from our parents motivated us to do our best,” says Miano.
She started school in Ndaragua before moving to a boarding school in class four. She then proceeded for O levels at Kapropita Girls School in Baringo County before joining the University of Nairobi where she earned her Law degree.
Miano was later admitted as an Advocate and practiced for a few years before joining the corporate world.
“When I moved to corporate world, I think I found a calling for my career because I became a corporate lawyer climbed up the ladder to become a Legal Director and later Company Secretary and in recent years then I became CEO. From CEO I was nominated to Cabinet. Looking back at that journey every step of it was a preparation for what I am today,” Miano says.
The switch from corporate to government
For Miano, the transition from being the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) to a Cabinet Secretary was more than a shift in scenery.
She notes that, the switch, though challenging, brought out the common skills needed in both realms which include people management skills, strategic thinking and innovativeness.
“Between corporate and government, there are a lot of similarities. The skills are the same, it’s the operating environment that differs. In government, the boundaries are wider, and you are dealing with a lot of people. It is a job that is a product of a political process,” says Miano.
“In Cabinet you need to have a very open mind, you need to do a lot more to ensure your roles are clarified, and you really need to be a service centric person. You learn a lot of politics because it’s a political job but luckily the driving force is still the same for both worlds,” she adds.
However, navigating the political landscape was a learning curve for Miano.
“When I was appointed, there was a lot of debate about Rebecca Miano not being a politician, that made me study who a politician is,” she indicates
She then established that there existed a thin line between a politician and any holder of a public office such as that of a Cabinet Secretary.
“Being a politician requires understanding the government’s manifesto, communicating, and executing it and serving the people. I am also lucky that I have mentors who are very well endowed in that angle of politics so where I have deficiency, I have people to call upon. But to be honest being a politician just takes the things I have told you and, in that regard, I am a good politician in my own rights,” Miano says.
Miano was first appointed as the CS East Africa Community, The Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, and Regional Development and later moved to the Trade docket following a Cabinet reshuffle by President Ruto on 4th October, 2023.
Her appointment came at a time when Kenya was experiencing a severe drought and she was forced to roll up her sleeves and provide relief and resilience building measures to avert the crisis.
Reflecting on her journey, Miano draws inspiration from the opportunity she has to make a difference in the country and in people’s lives while offering a message of encouragement to aspiring young women.
“It is possible, opportunities are there. The real work is for us to prepare and equip ourselves with the necessary skills, qualifications and the focus required,” she says emphasizing that competence knows no gender urging girls to excel in their chosen paths.