Each year since 2006, Coca-Cola CEWA (Central, East and West Africa) honors standout employees who personify the business unit's core values. Nominations are accepted in seven categories, and winners and one overall values champion is the following year. The CEWABU 2013 Overall Values Award went to April Kamunde, customer and marketing insights analyst in Nairobi, Kenya.
Kamunde, who describes herself as a bio-chemist and artist, presented Mr. Kent with one of her original oil paintings (pictured on the right). The painting was indeed a surprise. Kamunde says watching Kent unwrap the artwork, an ode to 5by20 and the women of rural Africa who travel long distances (many times on foot) to put a Coke within arm’s reach, and take it in was a moment she'll never forget.
In addition to meeting with Kent, Kamunde enjoyed a full agenda that included several one-on-one meetings with key Coca-Cola business leaders and multiple opportunities to explore Coca-Cola's hometown.
We caught up with the CEWA Values Award Winner and avid painter after her trip to the U.S. to discuss her experience.
How did you feel when you won the CEWA Values award?
It was overwhelming. As a lot of my colleagues who were there can testify, I couldn’t even smile…a wonderful surprise it was, though! did not expect it.
What did this recognition mean to you?
It made me realize that my efforts to support my peers and clients indeed make a difference in their day-to-day tasks. I thank them for their recognition.
What was it like meeting Mr. Kent and presenting him with your painting?
It was fun to watch, as he didn’t expect it. I enjoyed watching his reaction as he unwrapped the painting, paused, and studied it from a distance. I was especially pleased when he deduced what I was trying to depict with the piece.
What were other highlights of your trip?
One highlight would be that I survived through the cold! On a more serious note, I really enjoyed interacting one-on-one with the other business leaders, most of whom I would not ordinarily have an opportunity to meet. [Outside of Coca-Cola], the trees in the fall were a beautiful sight to see along the streets.
What lessons will you bring back to your job with CEWA?
What stood out for me most was the rich history and heritage behind Coca-Cola as well as the vastness of our business. We work for a company with an expansive reach across the globe, employing a large mix of associates from all corners of the Earth. This brought home to me that whatever task I do, no matter how small, it builds onto a much larger picture.
Any fun stories or memories?
I forget that the U.S. operates on Left Hand Drive. I kept walking towards the driver’s seat whenever a cab or a friend would come to pick me up, and they would wait for me to get to the door and smile at me knowingly through the window. One cabbie asked me, “You wanna drive?”