“I have no doubt she will continue to be Uganda’s ambassador. Wherever you go, you will be asked to talk about Uganda, I have no doubt you will represent us."
KAMPALA - The outgoing CEO of the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) has expressed confidence in the team, in the company, saying that despite her departure, the petroleum commercial arm of the government will succeed in its endeavours.
"People ask if I'm worried about leaving the job and what will happen to UNOC. I'm not worried, because I have left around 100 people who will take the work further," Josephine Wapakabulo said.
This was during a farewell party organized for her by the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP).
It was held in Kampala Nakasero, at the residence of Patrick Mweheire, the vice-chairperson of UCMP, who is also the chief executive officer of Stanbic Bank.
Wapakabulo noted that one of the reasons she resigned for family reasons. She said she plans to settle down in marriage.
She noted that would she undertake consultancy work in Dubai which would give her flexibility for family life with her fiancée.
"Life happens. I may be changing my name, that is partly involved in the decision-making process for leaving UNOC," Wapakabulo revealed.
Wapakabulo recalled that when she joined UNOC, on the first day she had to design the logo for the company and work out the IT plan for the company. "It was a phenomenal experience working with exceptional Ugandans, I will be an ambassador for Uganda. It was a great opportunity to serve my country, something I cannot take lightly," Wapakabulo said.
Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), while bidding Wapakabulo farewell, said that it was an important goal for government to find Ugandans to work in the institutions running the oil and gas industry.
"Starting an institution is not easy. The authority and UNOC have been towing a delicate line on how to relate.
Companies have been keen to see how the two relate. The definition of how the authority and UNOC relate has not been concluded, it is work in progress," Rubondo said.
"I have no doubt she will continue to be Uganda's ambassador. Wherever you go, you will be asked to talk about Uganda, I have no doubt you will represent us," Rubondo added.
Peter Lokeris, the state minister for minerals in his remarks said that the outgoing CEO was creative, charismatic and knowledgeable. "She has created networks that will keep afloat. She has created a strong brand name for the company," Lokeris said.
Ely Karuhanga, chairman Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum while applauding her, said that Wapakbulo was good at networking and has brought many contacts and built many professional relationships for UNOC globally because she is well known in many parts of the world in the same industry. She will be our ambassador," Karuhanga said.
Mweheire said he was sad that Wapakabulo was leaving. He was hoping she would be around at the time the first oil barrel was pumped out. "She set up a high standard and integrity in UNOC. She walks with integrity and has left UNOC strong," Mweheire said.
Richard Kaijuka, chairman of the board of trustees, Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, said Wapakabulo was uniquely qualified which excited many when she was selected as the best candidate to head UNOC.
"Wapakabulo has good managerial skills, a rare breed of Ugandans. Having worked at Rolls Royce, working in the UK, Germany and Australia gave her exposure.
Basing on her gender, her humility, and good character of knowledge on how to manage politics are rare skills," Kaijuka said.
He added that running a government office comes with many challenges, which Wapakabulo managed professionally. "With budget constraints, she always thought outside the box to run UNOC," Kaijuka said.
Jimmy Mugerwa, general manager Tullow Oil who spoke on behalf of the oil companies, said Wapakabulo did a splendid and stellar work while maintaining friendly relations.
"You can tell a leader by the people she is surrounded with, Wapakabulo was surrounded by many good people," Mugerwa said.
"She is an intelligent lady, forget about her connections, she got the job on merit. When we had meetings she would always ask what the action points were after all the talk. She is a tough negotiator.
Because of Wapakabulo, some workers left private companies to join the government at a time when others want to leave the government to join the private sector," Mugerwa added.
Proscovia Nabanja, the chief operating officer UNOC said Wapakabulo is good at talent management, strategy and enterprise risk management. "She has played a fundamental role, with an engineering background, quality and efficiency are part of her DNA. She valued all employees, pushed for training and set standards for quality and human capital development," Nabanja said.
Nabanja noted that Wapakabulo had made headway in securing equity contribution of $800m (sh3trillion) needed by UNOC to play its role in various projects in the petroleum industry.
Ahlem Friga-Noy, Total E&P Uganda Corporate Affairs Manager who made an outstanding contribution to the oil and gas industry also recently left the country to take up another post for Total abroad. Friga- Noy was at the forefront of business negotiations, lobbying and business strategy.
Her tasks included stakeholders mapping, networking, networking, geopolitical analysis, crisis management and resolution, public relations, communication strategy and implementation.