Chris Otera Speaks

  | 7 min read
Chris Otera

Chris Otera

Head of Resourcing, Orange Telkom Kenya

In this capacity he is responsible for talent search and sourcing for prospective employees. This puts him in a prime position to shed light on opportunities in Orange Telkom Kenyafor anyone interested in joining the Team

Chris Otera has been a Human Resources Practitioner with close to 10 Years of experience in 6 different industries under different HRM capacities. He has been the Head of Resourcing at Orange Telkom Kenya since June 2012. Besides he holds a BA graduate degree from Kenyatta University in Human Resources; he is currently pursuing Masters in Human Resources at Daystar University.

Chris has also served as Governing Council (Director) Member of the Institute of Human Resources Management (IHRM) between the periods of 2011 to 2015. He was instrumental in passing of the HR legislation bill that saw the HR profession being regularized under the HR Bill 2012. Mr. Otera is also an active member of the Rotary Family.

Focus and consistency is what got me to where I am today


This week we interviewed Mr. Chris Otera, Head of Resourcing Orange Telkom Kenya. Chris started working for Orange in June 2012 as Head of Resourcing. In this capacity he is responsible for talent search and sourcing for prospective employees. This puts him in a prime position to shed light on opportunities in Orange Telkom Kenya for anyone interested in joining the Team.

Brighter Monday: Why Work for a Telecom Company like Orange Telkom Kenya?

Chris: Orange Kenya prides itself in a rich history in Kenya’s telecommunications evolution dating back to the 60s, before France Orange acquired a majority share of 51% in 2007.. The company’s milestones in evolution and the leaps in technology make it a formidable force to reckon with. Such a history portrays Orange Telkom’s growth, experience and stability in the telecommunication industry. Today, the company has a diverse culture of both foreign and local employees but fully investing on its strong workforce of Kenyan employees. Besides, it has a very strong telecommunication infrastructure and prides itself of its devoted workforce.


Brighter Monday: What HR challenges is the Telkom industry facing currently in terms of talent search?

Chris: I would say the biggest challenge in the telecommunications industry is high staff turnover. Competitive talent is not easy to come by in this industry. Most of the skilled and talented individuals are attracted to expanding regional markets. With a number of Telco companies mushrooming within the East Africa region, Kenyan telco’s talent has been highly placed at regional level.

The slow exit of Technical Institutions currently getting converted into University Colleges is another challenge that faces telecommunication companies. These institutes used to provide the market with the technical talent at Diploma level that could handle the day to day telecommunication operation especially at field level.


Brighter Monday: How do you select young talent for Orange Telkom?

Chris: In the telecoms industry, the key players usually hire new graduates for technical, support and commercial functions. Orange Telkom Kenya has partnered with a number of local Universities including Kenyatta University, Kenya Methodist University, Strathmore University, United States International University, KCA University, Technical University of Kenya (formerly Kenya Polytechnic) Africa Nazarene University and Management University of Africa, and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

During their respective graduation ceremonies, we select amongst their best performers especially in the technical field to enter the Orange Kenya internship program. The candidates are then vetted on aptitude, attitude, academics and professionalism.


Brighter Monday:What do Internships at Orange entail?

Chris: Orange Telkom currently has an intensive talent growing program for the interns who get opportunity to work with us. The interested individuals usually apply through the company’s website portal, or through their respective Universities’ Deans of Students.

The program runs for three months with a possibility of a maximum of two months extensionand it provides on-the-job training. This means that the graduates are assigned to a senior expert within the business who becomes their mentor and helps put into practice their skills on a day to day basis. Close to 40% of interns engaged in the Orange internship program get an opportunity for conversion into employment within a year.

However it is not just technical knowledge that makes an intern successful at Orange Telkom. Those who showcase dedication and hardworkwith the right attitude besides technical knowledge, are the ones that get these opportunities and work for Orange.


Brighter Monday: What should those interested in working for the Telecoms industry bear in mind?

Chris:Telecoms industry is looking to use technology to make lives easier. A technology driven industry means that any interested candidate should have passion for technology and a knack in keeping up with the latest technological developments and innovations in the dynamic industry.

Further, the telecommunication industry has been a male-dominated preserve.However, female candidates have broken through the male-dominated ceiling and proved equal in prowess to their male counterparts, especially in the technical positions.So I call for all the smart ladies out there: ‘This is your opportunity to shine in this industry!’


Brighter Monday: What tips and advice would you have for those looking for a first opportunity or those seeking to grow their careers either as HRs or otherwise?

Chris:My first work experience was in the health sector at The Nairobi Hospital where I worked as an intern for a period of about 1 year on a voluntary basis. I then worked as a Locum- contractor for 2 years. These are the most difficult times for me since there was no monetary remuneration, but I must admit that these were the most formative years of my career.I gained rich practical experience that have proved valuable in my career to date.As a locum I got my first actual salary that was Kshs15,000/- a month. It was quite challenging but I constantly looked at the end goal and what I wanted to achieve. I can now say that it was my focus on HR that saw me through. The lesson here is for beginners to gain as much experience as they can in the fields they find themselves in, without losing focus of their dream career. The advantage of internships and first jobs lies in the vast scope of duties one does during this time and deep interactions with different departments.

The other thing I would suggest on career growth is consistency. If you select a particular career path, be it HR, legal, medicine or otherwise, be consistent and persistent in following that path. “Pursuing a study to be a professional and having experience in your area is totally different not adequate. It is important to understand the value of your career to the business you are in.

I have been a HR professional for a period close to 10 years in different sectors including Health Care, Tourism and Travel, Insurance and for the last years the Telecom Sector. I think looking back it is better to have experience in the same field but in different sectors than to have experience in different fields in the same or different sectors. Always aim to excel in your job, even when you are ill paid and you will find yourself in a much better place in the near future. ‘It was my Focus and Consistency that got me to where I am today.‘
Find time for social forums that can help develop your skills and competencies for example joining professional organizations that are in line with your area of expertise. Also other charitable forums such as Rotary and Rotaract do help.

If you wish to know more about Orange Telkom, you can find information on the Orange Telkom website, also regarding the internship opportunities available to help you start your career journey in the Telecom

Mueke Katwa
I have two years experience in Business Support which covers Human Resource as a function; and a lifelong passion in creative writing.


    • Thank you for the feedback Brian.. much appreciated.
      We are glad we are of great benefit to you.
      Stay tuned for more insightful articles.

  1. question:may be some technique course needs knowledge and skills how do you go on renovating your skills to coup with technogy competition ?

    • Hi Vincent,
      To answer you on that, you can train, attend seminars on the same, use internet also because its a very important tool which can help you.


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