The "No Back-Up Plan" Plan: A Diaspora Story


Like many who decide to move back home, Olivia Oeri was worried if it was the right decision.

The current multi-unit manager for Pizza Hut Kenya had called the U.S. home for 15 years. In that time, she built a career she was proud of working for multiple Yum! Brandsfranchisees (Yum! Brands owns and operates the Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, andWingStreet restaurants).

But with over a decade of experience working as a multi-unit manager, she was in search of new adventures and challenges in the growing food and beverage industry in emerging markets. She also felt the call to move closer to home to be near her aging parents. 

By August 2017, after working with Kenyans Come Home, Olivia was back in Kenya to start her new role managing major restaurant franchises in Kenya — but not without reservations. Would she still recognize the Kenya she left? Was it the right move for her career? Would she find the career challenge she was looking for here?

It was a tough transition,” she says. “I was used to certain level of comfort… I was used to the way certain systems work. I had also gone through a lot of growth and development in the 15-year time frame in terms of work."

But she knew that the only way to make the move work was to be fully committed to it, advice she gives to anyone who is considering coming back home.

I didn't come up with a backup plan like if it doesn’t work in two years I’ll go back,” she says. “I fully committed myself completely to the whole experience. Because I said, ‘the only way to learn and appreciate it, is if you fully immerse yourself in it.’”

There was fear of ‘what if it doesn't work?’” she continues. “Will I have time to regroup and go somewhere else? If it does work, what would I like to get out of it? Because you are also looking at where will you be five years from now.”

It has now been just over a year since the move, and many of Olivia's skills have been easily transferable. She is now focused on running and growing the five Pizza Hut restaurants in her portfolio.

But there were challenges she did not foresee, from the ease of doing business to the training and skills gap. There was also the corruption.

It was bad when I lived and Kenya, and now it is worse,” she says. “These things happen. Not that I am naive, but these things happen.”

Looking ahead, Olivia is now focused on making Pizza Hut Kenya the premier pizza option in the country. "We are working towards that," she says. "We want to make sure that we are the customer favorite in Kenya."