For three years Hellen attended a MASK Creativity Club at Lariak Secondary School in a remote village in West Laikipia, Kenya, learning to imagine, connect and invent new ideas. After leaving school, she became MASK's volunteer facilitating creativity-learning at a local school for the deaf children for a year then
moved to a town near Nairobi to study at college. Studying analytical chemistry, Hellen invented a new drug from a local plant. The new drug was so effective that the college intended to patent it to sell to Kenyan manufacturers. Hellen felt proud: "MASK developed my habit of innovating. I want to innovate everything now!"
After graduating college, within just weeks, she found a job at a pharmaceutical company in Nairobi, and within four months, just 22, she was promoted to “supervise an all-male team” that had been at the company for years. She credited her success to creativity: “Coming to the new job, I suggested the more effective ways of managing some aspects of it, got noticed for it and promoted.”
Later Hellen moved to an even larger company where she became “responsible for the design of new analytical procedures". She was given an office and a higher salary. In her spare time, she joined a land-investment group and bought some land of her own that she dreams of dedicating, as she says, "to agricultural innovation". "MASK taught me to think outside the box, to be entrepreneurial.”
Recently, Hellen, 27, got a job with a global pharmaceutical company in Nairobi. Interviewing more than 200 candidates, the company selected just nine for the final interview, Hellen being the only girl of the chosen, and got the job. "You stood out for your creative attitude," said the company's Human Resources Manager. Hellen noted that about "80% of the questions at the interview were about problem-solving. The company wanted to know how creatively I solve problems."
Employers need creative individuals like Hellen. The recent World Economic Forum report says that by 2020 creativity will be the top skill sought by employers. Creative people know how to think outside paradigm, to kick-start new idea, to do job better. Hellen's creativity will continue to ensure her success.