CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Lusaka
SHE introduces herself as Laura Chipo Anne-Marie Phiri Moseni-Sitali in an unruffled and soft-spoken but confident voice, which can get one snooping at what sets her aside a mouthful of names she proudly mentions.
Like any other person one meets for the first time and starts an interaction, part of her personality and inspiring story begins to unwrap at that moment.
Born in 1975, Laura has â€˜scriptedâ€™ and set herself as a successful entrepreneur through what she terms â€œselling knowledgeâ€.
It is certainly an expedition worth its â€˜saltâ€™ and emulating as she â€˜hatchedâ€™ out of formal employment which most people consider a â€˜shellâ€™ of comfort to become her own boss and â€˜captain of her own ship and destinyâ€™.
Call it a leap of faith into the dark and, yes, Laura has found her footing after establishing Laura and Partners Consulting Limited (LPCL), a consulting firm where she is the managing partner.
Laura has accrued 15 years of experience as an economist and business advisor since she acquired a diploma in Project Management at the Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies and another in Human Resource Management from Cambridge International College in 2005.
To add another feather to her academic â€˜hatâ€™, Laura obtained a Bachelorâ€™s degree in Development Studies and Economics from the University of Zambia in 2011.
She is a Fellow of the Zambia Institute of Human Resource Management and an International Labour Organisation trainer of labour laws.
Born to Maria Chileshe and Dave Phiri in Mufulira, Laura however spent most of her childhood with one Timothy Mambwe Moseni (late) who she says was â€œtruly a great dad to me!â€
She started grade one at Mufulira Mine Primary School in 1981 and attended part of secondary school education at Leopards Hill and finally at International School of Lusaka in 1992.
Laura also had academic stints at Lusaka Girls and Tree Tops schools in Lusaka and later in Zimbabwe between 1985 and 1988 at Hatfield Junior and Chisipite Senior Schools in Harare.
She says growing up as the only child at that time enthused her to value relationships at a young age.
â€œI grew up around cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents. Being the only child then also gave me certain privileges that I would not have been able to experience in a larger family with siblings.
â€œIt therefore gave me exposure to some very amazing things like attention from family, great travel around the world, good education…,â€ Laura recalls.
After pursuing her tertiary education, she started providing advisory services with Mac Recruitment, Ernst and Young and the World Food Programme.
At Barclays Bank Zambia, she was responsible for implementation of human resource support services.
She also worked to improve working methods and systems to chief operating officersâ€™ (COOâ€™s) function to improve the functionâ€™s productivity through efficient and effective use of human capital.
The COO function had a compliment of 900 staff.
With what may be considered as some exceptional â€˜dare-devilâ€™ approach, a probable response to inner motivation, Laura quit formal employment in 2011 to employ herself as LPCL managing partner and four others without looking back.
â€œI donâ€™t regret! Being my own boss has given me an opportunity to chip more into the â€˜gold and treasuresâ€™ and potentials that lay in me.Â It has given me great opportunities to define and have control over those things of high value and important to me from a professional point of view, coupled with the opportunity to have more focus in getting to go in relation to those areas that I aspire to get to,â€ she introspects.
Lauraâ€™s other work notches include coaching, training, moderation, project management, job analysis and skills audit as well as salary surveys and payroll management.
Others are performance management and development, organisational structure review, training and needs analysis, employee relations, compensation and benefits, resourcing, talent retention, succession planning and organisational design.
She has also been responsible for the planning, organising, coordinating and administration of human resource development programmes, including development and administration of policies, procedures and budgets in various institutions.
In case you are conjecturing, Laura is married to Butler Sitali, who she describes as a source of encouragement. The couple has three children; Ali, Nasilele and Chibuye.
â€œMy husband has helped me discover where my professional capabilities are and has been very patient with me in allowing me to pursue my goals. He has held my hand in my personal and work journey,â€ she heartily says.
On what motivated her to defy all odds and leave formal employment, Laura assertively points out that her desire to start up a consultancy firm began during her work as a receptionist at a recruitment agency.
â€œFrom there, the passion grew more and more. I set up firms twice but I was not ready and fully dedicated to them as I was also working full-time for other organisationsâ€¦I finally took the plunge four years ago!
â€œFormal employment has the security of putting bread on our table. However, I feel more secure doing what I love the most and getting paid for it. I donâ€™t regret taking this risk. I believe I can impact businesses in Zambia at a greater level than I would have done in formal employment,â€ she avowed.
Laura advises young Zambians to avoid limiting themselves but take risks and trail their dreams.
She says it is important for individuals to embark on self-discovery and identify gifts they can value and utilise.
â€œNo one is perfect but if we can fully utilise the gifts God has put in us, we can achieve so much more and have more fulfilling personal and work journeys,â€ she says.
Laura adds and douses her encouragement to young people quoting an inspirational note from Mother Theresa:Â â€œTo work without love is slavery.â€
â€œI am truly blessed to work with passion, love and have a great family that truly believes in me,â€ she says.
Lauraâ€™s career steps are undoubtedly a combination of consistent efforts and risk taking which in the words of former United States of America President John F Kennedy is testimony that, â€œThose who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.â€