By Agnes Asiimwe
How is your day like?
My day starts at 5.30 a.m. with a workout in the gym for two and half hours. Each day is different. There are days I have meetings with customers, on other days I have meetings with staff. I don’t schedule meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays. I stay in office to clear my desk. I normally have lunch in the office. In the afternoon I go to the farm or attend to other business. I normally conclude my day at 8 p.m. and by 10 p.m. I am fast asleep.
What do you look out for when you are hiring?
They have to be eager to learn things that are out of their realm, they need to be versatile and not limited to doing one thing.
What are your biggest challenges?
My key challenge is the uncertainty of the environment that we work in. It’s hard to plan three years ahead.
Workers lack honesty and unfortunately for a lot of them, dishonesty is seen as normal. It’s hard to find professionals, good people to do the job. People don’t want to work for entrepreneurs and say there is no job security, that they will get fired.
How are you resolving these challenges?
One has to adjust by planning for a shorter period. If you can’t plan for five years, plan for two.
To check untrustworthiness, you have to spend a lot of time checking and counterchecking, auditing and double auditing. I don’t hire relatives because of the conflict of interest involved.
To get good workers I have to search continuously and train.
How do you find it managing Ugandans?
Ugandans have not been in the competitive environment for long. Working late hours, working weekends is new. Company property is not respected.
|Sekalala’s secrets to successful business management
One cannot be good at everything. So find the best people for the job. Train other managers. Your job should be to oversee, review and exchange notes.
Never compromise your integrity.
Learn, read and network.
Continuously be sober and keep a sense of humility. After many years as a manager it is very easy to become complacent.
Listen a lot and ask a lot of questions.
Take a long term view even for things that appear short term in nature.
As a son of a successful businessman, how has this contributed to your own success?
I am fortunate I have a good mentor, which I think a lot of people lack. I have someone who helps set limits to adventurism; especially when I am taking too big a leap. When you are born into a family that does business, things like saving, investing, are very much apart of your culture. I am also fortunate that I have worked with many entrepreneurs of my father’s generation. Born or not, you still have to learn, you need to be capable. You are not guaranteed a job because you are a family member, some family members do not get the job.
But a lot of people don’t want to work for entrepreneurs because they feel it doesn’t offer job security and fear to be fired quickly. They want to work in big companies yet that environment does not give you an opportunity to learn how to manage on your own.
If you want to venture and be an entrepreneur in the long term, you have to go and work for an entrepreneur and learn how they work, from the small things to the big things. Take a chance and work for somebody whom you think is a good entrepreneur and you will learn something.
About Aga Sekalala Jr: He is the managing director of Radio Simba. He has led Simba through stiff FM radio competition to be one of the most listened to radio stations in Uganda as a result of its uniquely captivating and witty style of presentation. He is a director in other businesses including UVAN “a leading exporter of vanilla from Uganda, a director in Ugachick Poultry Breeders; he is also involved in events management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.