By Marie Shabaya
64| BOARD AND GOVERNANCE EXPERT, FOUNDER AND CEO, ANCHOR RELATIONSHIP NETWORK| KENYA
Jennifer Karina, by her own estimation, has lived a full life. A mother and grandmother, she is driven by a passion for people. In fact, it has formed the basis for most of her career to ensure that personal development and relational intelligence have a place in Kenyan boardrooms.
Now 64 years old, Karina has served on the boards of her country’s most prominent institutions including the Kenya Reinsurance Corporation, Central Bank of Kenya and the Kenya Girl Guides Association. At the same time, she invested in helping people grow, taking on qualifications in psychology, strategic planning and leadership from some of the world’s most recognizable universities. Today, she sits at the helm of Anchor Relationship Network (ARN), a corporate wellness and personal development consultancy based in Nairobi, as Founder and Lead Coach.
In order for her love of people to take root, Karina says that she had to overcome early difficulties.
“My early life was beautiful yet challenging in various aspects. I grew up in a home where my father was a bank manager, my mother was a teacher and so I lived an above-average lifestyle. However, we had what you call a dysfunctional family. It was difficult living there… so [my siblings and I] went to boarding school very early. I should have loved the holidays but I didn’t.”
In order to escape this unhappiness, Karina made a bold decision.
“Those days, many of us were raised to be wives and so I took the option of marriage… I found me a man, got married and when I look back it’s a miracle that I am even here because I got married at 19. At 23, I had three children.”
Concerned for her future, Karina’s father urged her to consider a tertiary education. She conceded and obtained a business degree while raising a young family. However, over time she realized that her true interest was in relationships.
“Based on my own struggles… having come from being wounded as a child, I had so much need for validation, affirmation, appreciation and it wasn’t coming my way. So, I was withering away… it took me to go for a counseling session to appreciate what value it added. From there, I realized I wanted it for longer. I began to do a certificate in Counseling as I did that I processed my pain and I became good,” she explains.