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28th Jun 2023

Meet the Team: An Interview with Millar Cameron’s Susan Kamenwa Waweru

Filed under: Meet The Team, Blog Articles

28th Jun 2023

We sat down with Susan Kamenwa Waweru to discuss her insights on recruitment strategies, why she chose Millar Cameron and what she sees as a challenge in the next 12 months.

What’s your current role at Millar Cameron?

I partnered with Millar Cameron a year ago to support with the quality delivery of International Development Executive Search Projects. For the last 15 years, I have done precisely this and supported tens of INGOs across Africa to source and attract top leadership talent to deliver on their social impact programs. I have placed many positions in this sector, including Director General, CEO / MD positions, SPOs & POs, Economists, Resource Mobilization, External Relations, Communications, Finance, and Research roles, among many others. I have worked with large INGOs and also smaller country-level social enterprises.

Why executive search?  What led you to a career in this space?  What makes you the right fit for a career in executive search?

I hold a Masters in HRM and am pursuing a PhD in HR development. I am a certified Executive Coach and Hogan Psychometrist. I am also a certified EQ psychometrist with PSI. I got into executive search because I am interested in leadership behavior and its effect on staff performance and retention.  When organizations find leaders who can provide vision, motivation, inspiration, and influence, they flourish.  I find great pleasure in finding and connecting outstanding leadership talent with International Development organizations across Africa as I feel I have contributed to the greater good by influencing their ability to deliver on their projects.  Gender inclusion is essential to me, and I climb every mountain to find suitable female talent for our shortlists.

My recruitment career spans twenty years, having started my first company in Melbourne, Australia.  I had migrated there as a skilled migrant, and my enterprising eye saw a gap in the healthcare sector for multicultural caregivers.  I then started a company to train and place them in DHS-approved facilities.  This effort helped many patients to access caregivers who spoke their languages and understood their culture.  Upon returning to Kenya, I continued this trend but shifted to Executive Search for INGOs.  I intend to stay in this space and support hundreds more organizations to find the best leadership talent.

I was raised by two teachers, both my parents having been great teachers of their time, and my first degree is in teaching.  I find that Executive search fits perfectly with my personality as I am structured and methodical in my working approach.

Outside of work, what are your personal hobbies?

I am extroverted, and I am energized by meeting new people and learning about their life journeys.   I also love connecting with my old buddies and am an expert at forming women ‘chamas’ or social groups.  I love to listen to diverse audiobooks and documentaries, mostly motivational and uplifting literature.  I like to keep healthy by taking walks; all the better if I have company to talk with.  I love to spend quality time with my three babies and my husband.  I also have a large extended family that keeps me busy with weddings, dowry events, baptisms, and other life celebrations.  


What made you choose Millar Cameron?

I connected with Conor about three years before joining Millar Cameron.  We kept in touch as we tried to figure out what a partnership would look like.  Eventually, I came on board to specifically support delivering on ID projects and create a strong brand image in the sector.   I have enjoyed it because the team has found my insights valuable.  Having worked with other established firms, I have shared my industry knowledge with the Millar Cameron team where required.  Millar Cameron is in a growth trajectory, and building a repertoire of organizational learning is critical to its continued growth.  Millar Cameron has a great team of subject matter experts, and interacting with them is a great pleasure.

How would you describe Millar Cameron and the work you do?  What sets the work Millar Cameron does apart?

Millar Cameron has an excellent team orientation, with impressive expertise across the different sectors that we service.  The Research quality is outstanding, giving me the assurance that we can deliver on even the most challenging ID project.  I have met exceptional professionals who know their stuff but are also humble enough to want to learn new things.

Millar Cameron are unique in their passion for and focus on roles in sub-Saharan Africa and emerging markets.  Do you have a tie to these countries?

I am Kenyan-born and bred, and I want to be part of the solution to the problem of youth unemployment.  I advocate for talent localization whenever possible and building local capacity as the sustainable way out for many International Development organizations.  My heart beats whenever I connect African talent with great opportunities in Africa and beyond.

Recruiting for senior management, director and C-suite positions requires a unique skill set.  How do you prepare your candidates for the recruitment process at this level?

The key for me is sound sector mapping and a multi-pronged search strategy utilizing creative tools to reach passive job seekers.  Patience is a virtue here as we deal with busy people who take long to read and respond to emails that may not be a priority.  Referral networks come in handy, and my 15+ years in the ID space have helped me to build strong networks to utilize during headhunting.  Having efficient processes helps to keep C-suite candidates in the process; for example, senior-level candidates do not like filling out lengthy forms, so we try to simplify the information-gathering tools to get their cooperation.  While most are familiar with interviewing processes, we offer opportunities for one-on-one coaching to candidates as they prepare for Panel Interviews.  We only carry out reference checks with the candidate’s consent and are committed to GDPR principles regarding privacy and confidentiality.


Is there any one single placement which you are most proud of?  Or feel has had the greatest impact on the communities you are so passionate about?

I am still building my work portfolio with Millar Cameron and have filled two roles so far; an MD and CFO  position.  The organizations involved are key players in agricultural development and research in Africa, supporting governments in policy-making by providing data and statistics to inform policy decisions.  I am proud to have worked with the Millar Cameron team to deliver on these two challenging searches that significantly impact the organizations involved.

What do you see as the biggest recruitment opportunity and conversely challenge, currently playing out within your specialist  sector over the next 12 months?

The ID space is broad, ranging from public health, agriculture, climate change, humanitarian work, and financial inclusion, among many other areas.  Within, say, the Public Health sector, there are more divisions addressing different issues, such as maternal and child health, nutrition, et Cetera.  It takes time for any organization to build expertise across the various sub-sectors, yet many opportunities abide in these specialist areas.  Depending on the state of world affairs, some areas will have access to more funding than others, and in particular geographies, requiring ID experts to understand the donor dynamics and where the opportunities lie.  This is a continuous learning process that’s both exciting and challenging.  To build a competitive advantage in a crowded pond, we must clearly define and invest in our niche areas.

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