Irene Mukasa is a confident, creative powerhouse of a woman! As a self-made Brand + Communications Connoisseur with a passion for humanistic storytelling, she’s lent her talents to a number of emerging bands from around the world in various industries, including tech, beauty, healthcare and retail.
Why is she an inspiration to me?
If I were to start in a nostalgia place, then this inspirational woman entered my life over 20 years ago in a suburban middle school. Our friendship continued to build into high school and, like most school-aged friendships, faded. As adults, we re-kindled our relationship, and it had restored itself as if we never parted. From the time we were young, I could see a fire in Irene that would carry her into the beautiful, successful, driven woman that she is today.
Irene is the perfect addition to our inspirational women series. We created this series to share stories from other women and hear their accomplishments, regrets, advice and vision. We all have different journeys. But, we can definitely learn from and empower each other.
What is your biggest accomplishment, and why?
If you asked me this question a decade ago, I probably would have said something superficial, like buying my first place or landing my first senior leadership role. But at this current point in life, I think my greatest accomplishment is being at peace with failure. I spent a large portion of my life scared to acknowledge my failures or even fail in general. I’ve since learned that failure is not only ok but necessary. All of my failures are what have driven me to push harder and be better. If life was just a whole reel of highlights, where would the opportunities to learn go?
Looking back on your life thus far, is there anything you regret?
I can honestly say I don’t regret anything in my life. I’m a firm believer that the things that happen in your life are meant to be. They are perfectly constructed for you. All the good and bad that has happened to me is part of my life journey.
What is the best piece of advice you can give another woman?
Carry yourself with the confidence of a cocky white man. I think women tend to second guess themselves or fall into the trap of imposter syndrome way more than men. The reality is we are amazing! We often wear so many hats and juggle so many roles. We should be proud of who we are, not be afraid to celebrate ourselves, be confident about our accomplishments, and dare I say, be cocky sometimes.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
To be honest, I stopped planning my life 5 years out. In my late 20’s, I had a health situation that almost took my life. It made me realize that it’s kind of useless to plan so far out in advance because you never know what surprises are around the corner. I now focus more on what I want to achieve each quarter. It allows me to view life in smaller chunks and pivot my plans more easily. This quarter I’m focusing on three things: making healthy life habits a regular part of my day to day life, increasing my paid speaking opportunities and nurturing relationships that bring me joy.
What is the best piece of advice given to you?
Don’t work more than you live. Work should never be your sole priority in life. There are so many other great things in life to focus on. Working should enable you to have the life you want to live, not dictate or dominate your life.
What do you think stops a woman or yourself from putting herself first?
I think it’s different for every woman, but I’d say women aren’t really taught to put themselves first. This has resulted in women often feeling guilty when they do put themselves first. There is a lot of unlearning that goes into making yourself a priority. You have to be at peace with the fact that it’s ok to do it; it doesn’t make you selfish or uncaring.
What are three words that could be used to describe you?
I’d go with the three Cs: Creative, Compassionate and Committed. I approach most things in life, from work to love, with those three words at the centre.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
– Maya Angelou
I love this quote because it reminds me that the only person’s opinion that matters when it comes to my success is me. If I feel successful, that’s all that matters.
Thank you, Irene, for continuing to be such an inspiration to me and for sharing your insights with us. I really love that you work to live, as so many women fall into the trap of living to work because we feel that we have to “prove” ourselves. It’s really refreshing to see a strong, career-driven woman, boss lady who has a different mindset because life is short! Be sure to check out our other inspirational women here.