Researcher of the Month; Dr. Kerretts-Makau – Teach what you Practice
Dr. Monica Kerretts-Makau is a born-again Christian, who is passionate about bringing change to the society. The mother to a 7-year old daughter has been married for 15 years and enjoys home-schooling her daughter. This, as a result of her passion for education, teaching and learning, and the practicality of it. Her motto – as an academic-practitioner, you cannot teach what you do not practice.
In her spare time, Dr. Kerretts-Makau loves to garden, stemming from her love for trees.
What is your Academic-Practitioner Journey?
My work stems from the belief that transforming our education system is greatly done through performing applied research. Those with work experience who then apply their theory and practice have a far wider reach in transforming, than those who are simply theoretical.
I first worked in the industry before joining academia, having completed my undergrad at Daystar with a Cum Laude Degree in Communications and Business minor. I then moved on to do my masters in the UK at Salford University Manchester where I majored in an MSc degree – Business with Information Technology.
After completing my Master’s research project, while trying to figure out what next, I applied for the Africa Recruit International Management Program where, Standard Chartered Bank selected me to join their company in 1999, in Kenya. In 2001 KPMG approached me to join their Knowledge Management team as the Regional Knowledge Manager. I took on the job and later that year was appointed Change Champion by the late Robin Cahil who was the then CEO.
I was itching to go back to books and after a chance conversation with Robin over my desire to return to academia I went to Australia to complete my PhD whilst working for KPMG. In 2005 I resigned to complete the last part of my PhD and graduated in December of 2006 from the University of New South Wales Australia.
In 2007 I was appointed advisor to the Minister of South Sudan Telecommunications Ministry and this started a new journey of travelling back and forth between South and North Sudan in what was then the journey of peace agreement and negotiations on what the ICT sector would like as one nation broke into two. In 2008 I was appointed as Technical Advisor Universal Access to the Regulator in Rwanda and moved to live in Kigali. I returned to Kenya in 2009 where I was invited to join Strathmore University Business School in October.
Since then I have had a busy and fulfilling career teaching and practicing in the field. Being in Christ continues to sober me knowing that my engagement with senior government officials and presidents has not put me on a pedestal but instead kept me grounded as I continue to use all these experiences to teach in class.
What is your Research journey?
I continue to engage on what I am passionate about in three areas:
Institutional Governance. I am passionate about leadership and Change management and teach and apply this on several training and consultancy work. I enjoy practical and applied transformation processes.
Critical and Applied Thinking in Education – Believing that a holistic education is what is needed in Kenya where critical thinking and applied work forms the bedrock of the pedagogical methodology of teaching.
ICT and Policy – Where I work for the World Bank as a technical consultant for regulation. I have researched and written several country reports for the World Bank on the ICT regulatory sector which are available at the World Bank country websites.
Dr. Kerretts – Makau’s extensive work can be accessed here.
My applied leadership roles include;
Board Director – Bank of Africa – Kenya (2013 to 2015)
Appointed through Bank of Africa Group and Central Bank of Kenya Approval Process.
- Board Chair – Credit Committee
- Board Chair – Human Resources Committee
Board Director Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK/Now CAK)
Appointed as Independent Director to the ICT Regulatory Board representing private sector/academia (4 year term from February 2011 to April 2014)
- Chair Audit Committee 2012 to 2014
- Chair Finance Committee – 2011 to 2012
- Deputy Chair Technical Committee 2011 to 2013.
Board Council Member (2011 to 2013) – Kenya Society of the Blind
- Served on Voluntarily Basis as council Board Member
- Chairlady Resource Mobilization – Oversee the support of the resourcing of funds and partners in the support of visually impaired persons in Kenya.
What was your PhD Research on?
My PhD title; At a Crossroad: the GATS Telecom Framework and Neo-Patrimonial States: The Politics of Telecom Reform in Kenya
My interest was in the intersection of governance and politics and the dual role they play. I am grateful to God that I landed in an applied University –in the School of Social Science and Policy. My Professors made me present at international forums such as the African Union and as a result, I was exposed to regional thinking and its influence on policy.
I think a PhD should be done because you are passionate about something. I never entered it thinking about money. I was not clear on what the future would hold in 2002 when I embarked on the journey. I was only sure that I wanted to learn more and influence better.
What would you advice PhD Aspirants?
My key advice to PhD aspirants, PhD does not make you a great teacher, your passion and interest does. The PhD gives you knowledge in something but then you have to apply it and see where the pitfalls are after all theory must be tested otherwise it remains wishful thinking. If it is learning then learn to your best and teach it to your best whilst allowing Christ to lead you.
What motivated you to accomplish so much?
The bible calls us to be change agents wherever we are, that is my number one motivator. My relationship with God is important to me.
I am also motivated by the fact that I am Kenyan, a woman, a mother and a professional. I cannot stand tribalism, I am proud of our country. I see the effects of tribalism in how we govern. That is why I hyphenate my name; I am part of the Kamba community, Kalenjin community and most importantly the Kenyan community.
We can all be excellent regardless of our tribes, whilst the personal is political for me, I am also keenly aware that being an instrument for God to use in all I do, ensuring I stay in him, keeps me grounded. In the end it is not what I have achieved but what he has done through me.
Going forward, noting that I am 42 now, in the business school and as an older faculty, I will take it one step at a time. I have learnt and know that change and leadership has no title, it is found in what you do.
Dr. Kerretts – Makau’s Achievements
Dr. Kerretts-Makau was a panelist together with H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta, at the Presidential Launch of the GES summit in Kenya, discussing the role of ICT and Education.
She also featured on DSTV live as a commentator during the GES launch with USA’s H.E President Barrack Obama.
She was also awarded for top 20 Women influencing ICT sector in Kenya by IHUB.
Congratulations Dr. Kerretts – Makau on your successes and great influence to the society.