Rose Wachuka is the Chief of Staff to Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Martha Koome. Following her appointment, she made history as the first female and youngest person to hold the office.
Wachuka has successfully held and delivered in various positions both locally and internationally. She is an inspiration to the many young women in the country looking to make it up the corporate and public service ladders.
She hinges her success on the basic principles of gratitude, integrity, courage, and discipline.
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“We (young women) sometimes miss many opportunities because we are afraid to get into rooms and express ourselves and go after things we feel are important. Without integrity and discipline, you cannot be effective,” she told Business Daily after being ranked top 40 under 40.
Here is her story as narrated by WoK.
Background & Education
Rose was born in Ol Kalou, Nyandarua County where she spent the first 10 years of her life.
she developed a passion for the law at a young age. During an interview with The Nation, she revealed that she once told her grandfather that there is nothing that can impoverish a person like illness and a court case.
“Having witnessed people go to court for ages and sometimes even die before justice is served made me know I really wanted to advocate for social justice,” she said.
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The 36-year-old notes that she wanted to practice law to effect social justice.
“From when I was a child growing up in Ol Kalau in Nyandarua, I knew I wanted to serve. That is the currency of my satisfaction, not even money. It is about making an impact in the life of another person.”
Wachuka holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from Moi University having graduated in the top 5 percentile of her class in 2009. She proceeded to the Kenya School of Law and graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Law and was admitted to the bar in 2010.
In 2015 she got a Chevening Scholarship to study for a Master of Public Policy degree at Oxford University. However, the course was too costly and the scholarship could not cover the entire expenses.
“It only covered about £20,000 (about Ksh3 million) and my course was £66,000 (Ksh9.6 million). I desperately needed to meet the Chief Justice, Willy Mutunga to express my predicament. One day I caught up with him at the entrance of his office and told him, ‘CJ, look, I have an opportunity to go to Oxford, but I don’t have school fees.’ And he said to me, ‘Go and see Duncan (his chief of staff and Kenya’s first Chief of staff), and find resources from the Chief Justice Scholarship account’”
Her request was granted and she joined Oxford University at the Blavatnik School of Government.
“We were 120 of us from 118 countries and I was the second Kenyan ever to go to the school. While there, I was very interested in Universal Health Care (UHC) and in education,” she recounted.
Wachuka also holds a Masters in International Relations, Diplomacy and Foreign Policy from the United States International University (USIU).
In 2019, she attended the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communication, graduating with a certificate in Executive Education, The Voice of Leadership; Inspiration, Influence and Impact. That same year, she also went through Havard Kennedy School, obtaining a certificate in Executive Education, Adaptive Leadership for Africa; Chaos, Complexity and Courage.
After graduating from KSL, Rose joined
Between July 2012 and January 2016, she worked with the Justices of the inaugural Supreme Court of Kenya under the leadership of retired Chief Justice, Dr. Willy Mutunga and then-Deputy Chief Justice, Kalpana Rawal, to develop Kenya’s indigenous jurisprudence through research and thorough legal analysis as a law clerk.
While attending the University of Oxford, Rose got a call from then Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Amina Mohammed to serve as an advisor to the ministry. She had been recommended by Lady Justice Njoki Ndungu.
“The CS’s personal assistant told me that she wanted me to look at a speech for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) conference. I remember I had exams the following day, but I worked on that speech for three hours, sent it to the CSs office, and then stayed up until almost dawn studying for my exams. Later, when I listened to CS delivering the speech at the WTO, I was so proud of myself. That was the first interview and I passed,” Rose said.
After returning to Kenya in October 2016, she received a call from CS Amina’s office asking for a meet-up.
“When I got there, the CS told me, look, I have just received instructions from the President, to put in my papers for the AU chairperson’s position. I need you to prepare my CV in this format. It’s a Saturday and all those documents are required by tomorrow evening in Addis Ababa. And they need to be in English, Arabic, and French. I immediately got down to work and that was the beginning of me working as CS Amina’s Chief of Staff. I moved with her to the Ministries of Education and eventually Sports,” she narrated.
From September 2020 to July 2021, she served as a Director – Coordination and Liaison – World Athletics Under-20 Championships, Nairobi 2021.
In 2021, the Commonwealth was looking for a Deputy Chief of Staff and Rose applied for the job. She was shortlisted and did several interviews including one with Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland who believed she was well suited for the job. It was a very senior position as the Public Affairs Adviser to the Secretary-General.
“I had just accepted the position when I got a call from the new Chief Justice, Martha Koome, she was a few weeks in office. She said she was looking for a Chief of Staff and had been told that I was the right person for the position,” Wachuka recounted.
“This remains one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made in my life. I remember thinking, your country does not ask you to stay and serve and you say no. So I wrote a letter to Commonwealth declining their offer. And that is how I ended up here as the Chief of Staff.”
Ever determined to steer and effect social change, Wachuka currently supports over 15 students through school.
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