"I am proud to belong to a group of companies whose chairman and management has an admirable sense of business"
By Palkein Arya
There is always a misconception among Ugandans that Indians are difficult to work with. Of course, if you join a company with this negative perception, you can only expect the worst.
But, for those who join Indian companies with an open mind, that the workplace is for their work and that business means business, the sky is usually the limit for them.
One such person is Paul Kavuma, the name that holds a superlative position in one of the most highly regarded Indian companies in Uganda, GoldStar Insurance.
Kavuma stands tall with his strong values, beliefs and high regard for the company. Being a Ugandan, he has made a mark in this Indian company, where he is endowed with great responsibility and power.
Kavuma started his insurance career with GoldStar, then moved a full circle within the industry before settling back at Goldstar again.
Kavuma returned to Uganda in 1997 on completion of his bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of London. He credits Samson Muwanguzi for introducing him to the insurance industry.
Muwanguzi is one of the directors of Goldstar. In 1998, Kavuma joined Goldstar as a Claims Officer, but left in 2003 for AON. From AON, he moved on to AIG but something kept pulling him back to Goldstar.
Eventually he rejoined the organisation, this time as the chief operations offi cer.
Work at an Indian company
When asked about how it is to work at an Indian company and get to the top of the corporate ladder, Kavuma had this to say: “Life is a learning curve and a destiny is always a rewarding thing. I am personally adaptable to multi culture settings and always willing to learn something new.
“The Indian orientation is rich in business acumen, professionalism and a hardworking ethics. These are qualities I have found admirable and no doubt have propelled me in my career. I cannot forget my first opportunity and shot at the insurance career. It brings fond memories of what I am now.”
No wonder with this kind of a positive attitude, Kavuma continues to strive for further excellence and success. His infectious attitude also bolsters the morale of other staff members.
The busy Kavuma in his offi ce at Goldstar Insurance Company. PHOTO/Andrew Masinde
Getting on with Indian bosses
To the belief by many Ugandans that Indians are difficult people and how he works with Indian bosses, Kavuma says; “Perceptions are individualistic and I guess Africans are equally difficult to work with. Besides we have downsides like our laidback attitude at times.
“In life, what you like is what you get so once you seize the opportunity to learn, do not let go. I am doing exactly that; I enjoy what I do with a challenge to excel on all fronts.
“I am proud to belong to a company whose chairman and management have an admirable sense of business, with hardly any room for mediocrity.”
Background & motivation
Born in Kampala to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Muwanga of Mutundwe, Kavuma attended Budo Junior School and then Lubiri and Ndejje secondary schools for O’ and A’ levels before joining the University of London for a bachelor’s degree in law.
He is married to Esther, a lecturer at Makerere University and they have two children – a boy and a girl.
I want to see that I excel at what I do and make sure I attain professional excellence at the end of my career. I want it to be referred to as an illustrious career – a distinctive mark on the industry.
And of course, the other motivating factor is the quest to provide for his family.
“It takes a lot of hard work, integrity and honesty to grow in this industry. With these attributes, the sky is the limit,” Kavuma says.
Goldstar is one of the companies under the Ruparelia Group owned by Kampala businessman Sudhir Ruparelia.
Goldstar has been in operation in Uganda for over 10 years. It is an ISO-certified company and was voted the best insurer for financial and technical support in 2005 by the Uganda Association of Insurance Brokers.
It was ranked fourth in the premium league of the non-life insurance companies in the industry for the year 2005. The company is also heavily involved in corporate social responsibility programmes within the community.
According to Kavuma, the company is diversifying its focus on other potential areas including microfinance insurance, agriculture, oil, gas and energy.
“With the increased awareness created by the insurance governing bodies like Uganda Insurance Association, Insurance Institute of Uganda, Uganda Insurance Broker’s Association and Insurance Regulatory Authority, there is now a much wider scope to expand and prosper in this industry,” Kavuma says.