Learning and leading from Kenya to Canada

February 5, 2021

If anyone is prepared to mentor, support and advise university students navigating new places and a changing educational landscape, it’s Tim Kituri.

He knows “new” and “changing” well.

A native of Kenya, Kituri left his hometown of Mombasa at 13 to attend school in the capital city of Nairobi, where he later also earned his first undergraduate degree.

He moved to Canada in 2000, completing another undergraduate degree at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, spending seven years in the Nova Scotia capital.

He began online learning in 2006 towards a Master of Arts in Intercultural and International Communication at Royal Roads University, where he would also earn a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching. The same year, he left the Maritimes to settle in Victoria and a job in marketing and recruitment with Royal Roads.

Now, Kituri, who is one of the students, former students and faculty members featured in Royal Roads’ Boldly Different marketing campaign, is the university’s Master of Global Management program manager.

With several hundred students over multiple intakes in the program — 90 per cent of them international, hailing from about 20 countries — Kituri and his staff of six are kept busy handling administrative matters as well as supporting learners and faculty.

“I use the coaching and the cross-cultural part of my program a lot,” he says. “Executive coaching: asking questions as opposed to giving answers, providing students with the space to think and reflect on what they want to take away.”

Understanding cultural barriers for international students is key, Kituri says.

At university in Kenya, he says, using his own experience as an example, “the power distance between you and your instructor is established from day one. You as a student have exactly zero impact or knowledge, you’re an empty vessel to be filled. You sit at the feet of your instructor and absorb everything they say as gospel truth. No critical thought is allowed whatsoever.”

“Royal Roads is the exact opposite,” Kituri says, noting instructors and students interact more as colleagues — students’ average age is 35 and most already have a decade of work experience.

“The instructor has the role of facilitating conversations and imparting academic theories into the conversation but the student’s role is to take those and apply them in a way that is meaningful to their own capacity,” Kituri says.

Thus, part of his role at Royal Roads is to encourage students to contribute their voices to classroom conversations and take an active role in their learning.

Additional challenges over the last year have included establishing and maintaining connections among staff and students working and learning remotely due to the pandemic. With students in as many as nine time zones, scheduling classes has taken creativity and commitment.

Despite the challenges, Kituri says, “I love my job… I see the impact of our work every day.”

And it’s no surprise that, with his mother and sister in Kenya, and other relatives in the US and South Africa, he calls his work teammates “my family.”

After all, for the many moves and changes Kituri has made, he has called Victoria, and the university, home for longer than any other place in his adult life.

This is one of a series of articles on the people featured in Royal Roads University’s Boldly Different campaign. If you want to take your career further, earn a new credential, experience personal growth – or all three – with a boldly different education, contact us to learn more or to speak with an advisor.