Young Woman Who Services Uhuru’s Official Cars
Cynthia Achieng Ng’ang’a is not your ordinary young woman. At the tender age of 22 she is among a handful of women who have chosen to walk an unbeaten path into the male-dominated, culture-forbiding world of repairing cars.
She is a trained vehicle mechanic and the only female at top firm DT Dobie. Her duty, among others, includes servicing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s official cars.
Her passion, she recalled, dates back to her childhood days in Homa Bay, Nyanza, where she would spend time counting luxury cars as they passed by while on school holiday.
The idea was to identify models which she would one day own and repair them when she came of age.
Her journey to DT Dobie started in 2011 when she joined Mechanic Technical Training college in Makadara, Nairobi, and underwent a one-year training programme in electrical automotive mechanics.
She later sat exams under the Directorate of Industrial Training.
“I studied mechanical engineering immediately after clearing Form Four. I have always been fascinated by cars and wanted to learn more about them. I can do both electrical and mechanical work” said Ms Ng’ang’a in an interview with the Business Daily last week as she repaired a truck.
“After training I got an attachment with DT Dobie, I vowed to work in the same place after the internship,” she said.
Unfortunately, the auto firm was not recruiting. Frustrated, Ms Ng’ang’a hit the road looking for a job . “I knew I had talent, but one can only prove one’s skills and passion when given an opportunity,” she said.
Ms Ng’ang’a then moved from one garage toanother for months, seeking an employmentopportunity which was not forthcoming.
“The biggest challenge was changing employers’ mindset and making them trust that a woman could team up with men and do a good job,” she said.
Then Lady Luck smiled her way. Her mentor Lawrence Achola, who worked for DT Dobie and operated a small but promising garage on the side, offered her an opening.
He employed her at his garage. “I worked closely with my mentor for a while and later moved to another garage which later collapsed. I had no option but to go back to Achola’s garage.
‘‘He encouraged me to take risks, which not only built my character but also much needed resilience,” she said.
“My father, Polycarp Ng’ang’a, has worked for DT Dobie for a long time but he encouraged me to work on my own and create an identity. He knew that you can put someone in a job but you can’t retain one if one doesn’t understand what the job entails,” she said.
Two years later DT Dobie advertised for mechanics and she applied for a job.
Ms Ng’ang’a bagged the job early this year and her passion has seen her rise and become entrusted with servicing the president’s official cars.
“Since I joined this place I have serviced 20 vehicles from State House, mainlyMercedes Benz models,” she said without divulging details.
‘‘My last assignment was last month,” she said, pointing at some of the vehicles she has worked on parked at the DT Dobie Body Shop located along Lusaka Road, Nairobi.
Ms Ng’ang’a attributed her success to a strong character. “You can be very good in what you do but you need teamwork and discipline to stay on top,” she said.
“We have monthly targets which can only be achieved when you accept ideas from your colleagues and collaborate with them,” she said.
“Selecting an individual to deal with sensitive contracts requires a lot of accuracy, dedication, commitment and secrecy which calls for one not to divulge details regarding concerned vehicles,” said a source from DT Dobie who sought anonymity because he is not authorised to speak for the firm.
“This is where thorough work is needed to enhance trust and ensure continued business partnership,” the source said.
Ms Ng’ang’a said that despite being contented with her pay, her heavy workload called for hard work and disregard for gender biases.
“I want to challenge women to venture into male-dominated areas. I also want to urge parents to stop dissuading their children from pursuing some professions because they are dominated by men,” she said.
What are her future plans? Ms Ng’ang’a plans to open her own garage and help women interested in pursuing the profession.
Christine Maina, the DT Dobie Body Shop manager, told the Business Daily that Ms Ng’ang’a’s strong character and creativity had seen her rise and become a role model.
“We noticed her passion for the job and decided to test her dedication and she has never let us down. Though her work does not solely involve servicing presidential cars, the commitment she has shown has encouraged us to bring on board more women when opportunity arises,” said Ms Maina.
– Business Daily