Ritah Mukasa, Jacqueline Nakandi and Maureen Nakatudde profiled eight nominees who are in the running to become Uganda’s Top 40 under 40 2019
Sunday Vision's Top 40 under 40 ranking is back. We are looking for outstanding managers/leaders who are star performers and advancing in their careers. They should be a beacon to their peers and doing something extra that impacts their communities, all this while they are aged 40 and below.
If you are this person or know someone who is, email your nomination to Sunday@newvision.co.ug. All nominations will be considered by a committee, which decides who will be profiled. From the profiled individuals, a panel of judges will select the final winners, who will be announced in January.
Ritah Mukasa, Jacqueline Nakandi and Maureen Nakatudde profiled eight nominees who are in the running to become Uganda's Top 40 under 40 2019
Sarah Lagot Odwong, 31, communications director at USAID
Odwong's mother was abducted by Joseph Kony's rebels but she was lucky to be released back to her young family in Kitgum. Odwong was about six years old, but vividly remembers her daily glimpse of the psychological and physical effects of war and the jarring realities of human suffering.
Odwong has selflessly demonstrated zeal to improve the lives of the disadvantaged
It left an indelible mark on her. It is from that background that she strived to become an advocate of social change in order to champion issues of peace, security and gender rights. In school, Odwong made public presentations and wrote for magazines. She also joined the debating and writers' clubs and became president of the Youth Alive Club. Social issues were always at the core of what she did and who she became.
Today, the 31-year-old is the communications director for USAID's Better Outcomes for Children and Youth in northern and eastern Uganda (BOCY) an activity implemented by the World Education Initiative-Bantwana. BOCY aims at strengthening family resilience and closing the gaps in the prevention and response to violence, HIV and other vulnerabilities, reaching over 27,000 families, 100,000 children and youth across 24 districts in Uganda.
"I champion the transitioning of communities from poverty, inequality and suffering in all its forms to a dynamic overall growth that fosters equity and the larger unfolding of individual potential," she says. Odwong also develops and executes communications and knowledge management strategies in tandem with programme operations.
What makes her tick?
Odwong is driven by passion, resilience, compassion and a heart for humanity.
Since childhood, she has selflessly demonstrated an uncommon zeal to improve the lives of the disadvantaged. "I am a sturdy leader, who is innovative with far-sighted vision to solve important social problems.
I also have a knack for bridge divides, build coalitions and collaborate with others to achieve positive outcomes," she explains.
After her primary education at Kireka Grammar Junior School, Odwong attended her secondary education at Mt.
St. Mary's College Namagunga before attaining a bachelor's in mass communication from Uganda Christian University and a masters in humanitarianism and conflict response from the University of Manchester, UK.
The foundation of Odwong's career was built at Wizarts Media, where she had her internship. Odwong is quick to add that she also interviewed field sources, did voiceovers for radio dramas and television documentaries. Concurrently, Odwong was supporting Milege Uganda, a social enterprise advocating for cultural and heritage conservation.
Shortly after, she moved to the Centre for Public Interest Law Uganda, as a communications consultant, where she supported the launch of the second phase of the Media Freedom Project initiating dialogue on how litigation can be used to support reform in areas that restrict the independence of the media in Uganda.
When the consultancy ended, Odwong joined Management Sciences for Health's Uganda country office as a senior communications and business development specialist supporting the USAID Strengthening Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Responses in Eastern Uganda (STAR-E) and USAID TRACK TB projects.
More recently, Odwong served as a documentation and sessional worker for Safety4Sisters Manchester, a feminist organisation. She was also a speaker during DEVEX's June 2019 ‘How to Communicate on Gender' digital series. "I have also been a part-time teaching assistant at Uganda Christian University's faculty of journalism and communication," she asserts.
Accolades to her name
Odwong was a top graduating student at UCU and also won the vice chancellor's scholarship award for the year 2013/14. In 2018, she won the University of Manchester Equity and Merit scholarship and in the same year, she was a news reporter for ACIA award winning PM LIVE bulletin.
In 2014, she emerged best international news reporter of the Inter-Institutional Media Challenge and co-author of journal articles in the Howard, Communication, Sex Education journals of Communication. Odwong is also a published writer with World Mag, The Standard Community newspaper and other outlets. She was a presenter, East African Communications Conference (2015, 2016) and Global Journalism Symposium (2015). contribution to community Outside of her work, Odwong is usually engaged in community empowerment drives.
She fundraises for health and other social initiatives. During her communications internship at Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio, USA in 2014, she volunteered with several community projects. inSPiration Given 20 minutes to meet anyone in the world, Odwong would spend the time in conversation with Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of UNAIDS. "Not only is she hardworking and brilliant as evidenced by her meteoric career over the past few decades, in my opinion, she is the example of strength and fortitude," she says.
Robert Nsibirwa, 32, brand manager, Nile Breweries Ltd
Nsibirwa leads a team of young professionals tasked with developing and executing marketing strategy for the core plus and high- end brands at Nile Breweries Limited. He leans on consumer insights and motivations to see how best he can ensure that the brands provide meaning and value to Ugandan consumers.
Nsibirwa started his career as an auditor in Pricewaterhouse Coopers in 2009, before moving on to MTN-Uganda as revenue assurance analyst. After serving for two years, Nsibirwa joined East African Breweries Limited (EABL) as a brand executive for their global beer brands.
He also led the product innovations team as innovations projects manager, helping to conceptualise and commercialise new-to world and new-to-market products, before leaving for private business. On what makes him tick, the marketer says he does his best to get the basics right and with God's grace, to sustain him and His voice to guide him. "I try to do what I am supposed to do, when I am supposed to do it.
Most times that's what it comes down to," he says. education Nsibirwa attended Kampala Parents and City Parents schools for his primary education before enrolling at King's College Budo for his O and A levels.
Thereafter, he was admitted to Makerere University Business School, where he pursued a bachelor's degree in commerce, majoring in accounting.
Nsibirwa runs an inspirational or motivational blog through which he shares his personal experiences and lessons with the hope that someone picks on a thing or two. When it comes to personal achievements, Nsibirwa reveals that he is passionate about real estate.
In an investment club, however, he is involved in purchase and small-scale development of land out of town. Aside from that, Nsibirwa also owns a consultancy firm that offers full suite marketing support to startups and SMEs that are looking for and open to dynamic and turn-key solutions to ignite their businesses.
If granted 20 minutes with anyone in the world, he says he would spend it with Sean Corey Carter, one of the biggest curators and authorities of urban culture of this generation.
Looking at where he is now, had he been asked where he would be 10 years ago, Nsibirwa would probably have been so far off the mark, given reality as it stands today. To him, the world and life, in general, is too dynamic and unpredictable to tie oneself to one course.
Simon SSenkaayi, 33, life and business coach
Ssenkaayi is a youth advocate, motivational speaker, life and business coach, who loves it when he touches peoples' hearts through speech. He uses a collection of inspirational words to bring back the fazed smiles and hope among distressed people.
The 33-year-old, is a graduate with a master's in business administration, with great focus on marketing management and strategy. In 2013, he was selected as one of Africa's top 30 inspirational young people and last year, he scooped the vocational service award from the Rotary Club of Rubaga.
Currently, Ssenkaayi is the head of corporate and liaison in the office of the Royal Treasury. He is also the founding director, senior trainer and researcher of Global Empowerment Link (U) Ltd and business programme host with CBS FM.
Ssenkaayi also helps people to discover their potential, and tap into it with the intent of recreating their lives and that of their communities.
What makes him tick?
Ssenkaayi says he enjoys solitude and has few friends, which helps him to reflect, meditate and analyse himself.
"I love being alone, which sometimes causes friction with my wife. But when I am alone, I listen to my spirit, read, think and write, before speaking to anyone," he says.
Ssenkaayi has previously worked with Youth for Human Rights International (Uganda Chapter) and Germany Foundation for World Population, where he served as peer educator and computer laboratory attendant.
He also worked with Young Empowered and Health initiative for and by young people under Uganda Aids Commission, funded by USAID, before moving on to Uganda Red Cross Society and Ministry of Youth Buganda Kingdom.
At Winsor Development Consultants, Ssenkaayi managed the marketing department and also worked as a trainer. Aside from that, the coach is also an alumni of the 5th World Youth Congress Istanbul-Turkey, a Democratic Party youth leader - Makindye sub-county, as well as the Buganda Youth Council and community mobiliser - ministry of youth, Buganda Kingdom.
His passion for public speaking has taken Ssenkaayi far. He has had opportunities to work with international organisations, such as Save the Children Uganda and Young Empowered and Health, where he served as youth advisory group representative for the central region.
Ssenkaayi goes to a number of schools where he helps children discover their potential. He notes that schools only give students knowledge, but not understanding.
He also impacts listeners on his radio talk shows, television programmes, social media counselling, guidance and coaching. Ssenkaayi has also published an inspirational book titled Amaanyi g'Obuntu.
Ssenkaayi attended Sseguku Primary School, Hill College and Uganda Martyrs University, where he attained a bachelor's degree in education and masters, specialising in marketing management and strategy.
He has advanced training in advocacy from Yildiz Technique Universitesi in Turkey, sustainable youth-led development from Dubai Men's College, United Arab Emirates and in small and medium enterprise management from China.
If granted 20 minutes with anyone in the world, Ssenkaayi would spend it with Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, who he describes as a symbol of his (Ssenkaayi's) identity. He would also like to spend time with former US president Barack Obama for his power to transform people's lives through the power of his words. Given a chance at reincarnation, the motivational speaker would come back as himself.
Ten years from today, Ssenkaayi sees an internationally recognised inspirational speaker, life and business coach leading great initiatives in the transformation of followers into leaders.
Patience Kemigisha, 35, chief executive officer, Trans Africain Supply Services
Kemigisha started working when she was 19 years old during her Senior Six vacation. She secured a job as an office assistant at Business Solutions Café for a year, before she took a break to start university.
In her second year at the university, she got a job as an administrative assistant in a company that was supplying telecommunication equipment. It was here that she gained experience in administrative work, accounting and project management.
Today, the 35-year-old is the managing director and chief executive officer at Trans African Supply Services (TASS), a leading supplier and installer of off-grid solar systems in Africa.
In 2009, Kemigisha was appointed project manager by CAA Int GmbH, a German firm dealing in renewable energy solutions. She was charged with managing a project in Tanzania to supply and Install Photo-Voltaic (PV) systems in rural areas.
"I moved to Dar-es Salaam for two years. After the successful completion of this project, I came back home. In 2012, I was appointed to my current office," she says. During her tenure at TASS, Kemigisha has spread the company's wings to Zambia, Rwanda and Tanzania.
They offer various products such as off-grid and hybrid systems, solar water pumping systems, solar-powered street lights, engineering and technical services plus manpower. Her job entails leading a team of fresh and dynamic professionals who are passionate about transforming people's lives and working with clients to bring clean, convenient solar and renewable energy solutions to communities in Africa.
In collaboration with global partners, Kemigisha's team designs and manages supply chain of solar projects; plans and controls the product and information flow across the chain with the objective of maximising customer value and competitive advantage.
"With over 150 projects completed in Africa, we have a can-do attitude, backed up by more than 15 years' experience of delivering highend, creative solutions on time," she explains. Her clients include government entities and non-governmental organisations.
What makes her tick?
"You cannot do it alone. You need to build a support team around you to accelerate growth. I empower my team to be the best. I also manage my time and prioritise my tasks accordingly," she says.
Kemigisha went to Nabisunsa Girls' School for O' level and St. Lawrence Citizens High School for A' level, before joining Makerere University for a bachelor's degree in arts. She later pursued a post graduate diploma in project planning and management.
Kemigisha also holds two more diplomas; one in procurement and supplies management and another in leadership and board governance.
If granted 20 minutes with anyone in the world, Kemigisha would happily have a cup of coffee with Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu from Ethiopia, who comes from the humblest of beginnings, but has built soleRebels into the planet's fastest-growing African footwear brand and the very first global footwear brand. She has also created world-class jobs, and empowered her community and country. On the other hand, if she was to come back to life, she would not want to be anyone else but herself.
In the next 10 years, Kemigisha sees herself as a leading female entrepreneur, strongly empowering fellow women, creating a legacy in the work that she does through promoting clean energy solutions to bring a positive impact in her community.
Ruth Biyinzika Musoke, 39, head of the skills development facility
Musoke is a Private Sector Development expert, who is currently the head of Skills Development Facility which is part of the USD 100 Million, a project funded by the World Bank.
Ruth Biyinzika Musoke
She designs, implements, monitors and evaluates projects and programmes as well as providing technical advice to multi-sectoral development projects such as agribusiness, education, manufacturing both targeting the corporate and SME sector in urban and rural development sector.
"I have worked extensively on large and complex development programmes in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana for international donor organisations such as the World Bank, DFID, EU, ADB and USAID," she explains.
The 39-year-old mother of three daughters has also managed and implemented projects directly related to Early Childhood Development, Orphans and Vulnerable children, Gender-Based Violence, Value Chain Management, Export Promotion, Financial Literacy, skills development and access to markets and business management.
In addition, she is a board member in institutions such Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Micro Finance Support Centre, Makerere University Holdings Limited, Footsteps Furniture Limited, Royal Suites Hotel, Uganda Funeral Services and World Skills Council- Uganda Chapter.
In 2002, Musoke worked as the operations manager for FSA International, where she started various SACCOs in rural areas to empower communities.
She also worked with Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Limited as a programme manager a job that required her to provide advisory support to various women Entrepreneurs in Uganda.
In 2006, she joined Private Sector Foundation Uganda as director membership services where she served under different capacities and currently heading the Skills Development Facility and a member of Senior Executive Committee.
Contribution to community
Musoke is an enterprise trainer and motivational speaker on areas of financial management which she does under the URA platform. "I talk to millions of Ugandans in business providing them with advisory support," she says. Additionally, the skills project she head has supported over 50,000 youth and women from across different districts of Uganda.
Aside from that, she is a panelist of private sector development issues on a local radio station, KFM, where issues affecting the economy and the country are aired and possible solutions provided.
She is also the chairperson of the PAKASA Awards which are organised by Vision Group. A project aimed at giving young entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their business ideas.
"I have given over 300 public talks across the country targeting the community to empower themselves in the country and internationally," she states.
Musoke attended her O and A level at Kawempe Muslim Senior Secondary School.
She later graduated with a bachelor of commerce and an MBA with a specialty in SME Development from Makerere University.
What makes her tick
"I am self-driven and confident. When I am set to do a task, I give it my all to ensure that it comes out successfully," she says. Musoke adds that because of her confidence, she is not afraid of adventuring into the unknown.
"I have been able to achieve some personal property during my career life. I have some apartments, land and I am shareholder in various businesses," she states.
Given a chance to come back to life as someone else, Musoke would choose to still come back as herself.
In the next ten years, Musoke says she would want to be a voice for empowering young people and upcoming corporate managers through mentoring and motivating them.
She also hopes to create employment opportunities for the youth. If granted 20 minutes with anyone in the world, Musoke would spend it with Michelle Obama. She says Obama comes from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face worldwide. "She has used her voice to empower women and youth across the globe. She loves her family and has time for it. I also like her sense of fashion," she says.
International Certificate in Rules of origin - Sweden.
Skills development from international Larbour Organisation - Italy -Turlin.
Commonwealth certificate course (gender, trade policy, and export promotion).
International certificate in innovative systems and clusters - new Zealand.
International SME competitiveness development course - India.
Project management certificate; HIV/AIDS and gender issues at the workplace.
Andrew Muhwezi, 38, Senior Water Production manager, National Water and Sewerage Corporation
Muhwezi leads a 170-member team of men and women from diverse backgrounds and, together, they work around the clock to deliver safe water for onward supply to the sensitive Kampala service area.
"We recognise that the product we handle touches human lives and our output is monitored minute to minute, 24/7 all year around. We, therefore, meticulously handle every aspect of our work from plant reliability, product safety to coordination with other actors along the service delivery chain," he says.
What makes him tick
Muhwezi says he was mentored in the early years of his engineering career never to allow the word ‘impossible' in his vocabulary. He adds that this has defined his work ethic all through. He warms up to every assignment and his passion and enthusiasm for delivering results is boundless.
He is resilient and considers every challenge as an opportunity to put his best foot forward. Muhwezi is a firm believer in nurturing talent and leadership.
Muhwezi started his education at Rwabuza Primary School and later on joined Nganwa Junior School in Sheema district. He then joined Ntare School in Mbarara district for his O'level and King's College, Budo for A'level.
He proceeded to Makerere University for a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, graduating with a first-class degree. He later on enrolled for an MBA at Makerere University, graduating in 2009.
He is now completing his second Masters degree (Water and environmental management) at Loughborough University, UK.
Within two weeks of completing his final exams at Makerere University, Muhwezi was recruited by Roofings Ltd in July 2004 as a production engineer. "I was inducted and trained to cherish hard work and honesty by my boss Sheikh Arif," he says. In 2006, he joined the National Water and Sewerage Corporation.
(NWSC), where he has progressively moved through the ranks, starting off as a maintenance engineer, then plant operations engineer, senior operations and maintenance engineer, principal engineer, water production manager up to his current deployment.
Muhwezi was registered as a practicing engineer by the Engineers' Registration Board of Uganda in 2012. He has since served the country's engineering fraternity through the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers serving on various committees. Muhwezi served on the membership, education and training committee, before being elected to council (the institution's governing body) from 2016 to-date.
During his tenure, he has served as an ex-offi CIO on the WETT (women engineers, technologists and technicians) committee, where he has been involved in a lot of work to increase the number of women engineers registering for professional practice. "The trend of women engineers enrolling into professional practice in the last three years has been impressive as a result of intensive efforts by the WETT committee, which I have diligently served," he explains.
The council further delegated him to serve as chairperson of the mechanical engineering interview panel of the joint assessment committee, one of the specialist committees comprising seasoned engineers that interview graduate engineers before they are enrolled into professional practice.
He has also served on several council programmes providing mentorship to several young engineers, many of whom have since registered/or are in the process of registering as practicing engineers. Muhwezi also served as board chairperson of COLFAM United Ltd, a member investment partnership comprising senior citizens. If granted 20 minutes with anyone in the world, he would spend it with businessmen, Patrick Bitature and Charles Mbiire. In his opinion, the two represent admirable entrepreneurial success in the country context.
Paul Keishari, 30 project advocate, assistant lecturer, farmer
Paul Keishaari is a project advocate with the Advocates for Natural Resources and Development, which has offices in Kampala and Karamoja. His job entails providing vulnerable members of the community with legal services through legal representation in courts of law. It also entails community empowerment through legal outreach sessions.
Born to John and Elvaida Kalangi of Mabira Parish in Rwanyamahembe sub-county, Mbarara, Keishaari is an associate partner with Frank Tumusiime and Company Advocates. As the deputy head of the litigation department, he is responsible for conducting litigation on behalf of the firm's clients.
Besides that, he is an assistant lecturer at the Uganda Pentecostal University. His areas of interest are land law, international law and civil procedure.
Why he chose law?
Although some people might stumble into courses, this was not the case with Keishaari. "From childhood, it was my dream to be a lawyer regardless of the circumstances.
I kept the faith and never swerved off that road," he says. In spite of that, Keishaairi is surprised at how many young people he meets and they are clueless about what they actually want to be.
After his fourth-year exams at the Law Development Centre in August 2014, Keishaairi joined Frank Tumusiime and Co. Advocates as a legal assistant.
In 2015, he was made member of the firm's litigation team handling cases, mainly in the magistrate courts.
After three years in the company, in 2018, Keishaairi was promoted to the position of deputy head of the firm's litigation team. Prior to that, Keishaairi joined the Advocates for Natural Resources and Development in December 2014 as a legal aid project lawyer. He held that position until July 2017, when he was promoted to the position of project advocate.
Keishaairi is also a goat farmer in Mpigi district. He employs over 10 workers. With two partners, they own and run Atkon Hotel in Kiboga district employing over 30 people. The former pupil of Kacwamba Primary School sits on the council of the Body of Christ Church as a legal adviser.
Keishaairi is a poet and an ardent animal rights activist. By June 2020, he plans to set up a non-governmental organisation advocating for recognition and protection of animal rights. Like several people who have many things to do, Keishaari says time is not his greatest ally.
However, he has learnt to properly utilise his diary to ensure that his job activities do not collide. Apart from that, he has learnt to put in more working hours so that he does not lag behind. If Keishaari was granted 20 minutes with anyone in the world, it would be with Jeffrey Archer.
This is because the author's books influenced the choice of his professional career. In case he was to come back to life as someone else, Keishaari says he has no one else he wants to be. "Surely, would come back as myself," he says."I cannot imagine being anyone else."
Awards or accolades
Although Keishaairi does not boast of any awards, he says in 2002, he was the only pupil in his parish to obtain a first grade in Primary Leaving Examinations.
He was also the joint best student at Mbarara High School in the Uganda Advanced Certificate Examinations 2008.
Next 10 years
The 30-year-old plans to expand his legal practice beyond the borders. "My aspiration is to be an employer of at least 300 people in the legal field and other businesses" he says.
Best book and quote
Keishaari says apart from the Bible, Jeffrey Archer's, Sons of Fortune, is the best book he has ever read. His best quote is "Impossible Is nothing because there is nothing a man can fail to do if he sets his mind to it."
Sumin Namaganda, 37 Author, Public Relations Manager
Namaganda is a communications specialist with 11 combined years of experience in communications, public relations and journalism. She has risen through the ranks to get to where she is. As a result, Namaganda has gained the necessary skills and experience requisite for her career.
"I am versatile and I work with absolute commitment, approaching all challenges with utmost professionalism, sincerity and adapting to each specific task's requirements," she says. The 37-year-old mother of two is currently the public relations manager at Airtel Uganda.
Fresh from university, she joined a local media house as a sub-editor and later assistant business editor. In 2011, she joined Rwenzori Bottling Company Limited as the communications officer and was promoted to communications manager after the Rwenzori Bottling Company and Nile Breweries Limited integrated. In 2018, she joined Airtel Uganda Limited as a public relations manager where she is to-date.
Namaganda recently authored a book titled The New You, inspired by the author's real-life story, offering direct response to personal rebranding in today's world, where the stakes are getting higher.
She is a mentor at ‘My World', a project that mentors young women into leadership.
Namaganda completed her O'level at Iganga Girls' Secondary School and later joined Gombe Secondary School, where she did her A'level. She is a graduate of communication skills and has a masters degree in public administration and management from Makerere University.
In 2016, she enrolled at the University of Virginia, in the US pursue a project-centred course; Business Strategy in Practice that encompasses Strategic Planning and Execution, Business Growth Strategy, Foundations of Business Strategy, Advance Business Strategy.
She also pursued an entrepreneurship course from the Universita Bocconi, Milan, Italy and project planning and management from the University of Virginia, US. Namaganda is a certified leader from Harvest Institute an accomplishment attained in 2018. She is currently studying French at Alliance Francaise.
What makes her tick
"I am passionate, purposed and deliberate. I love people but hate hypocrites with a passion. I stand for the truth, however, hard it hurts," she says. If granted 20 minutes with anyone in the world, Namaganda says she would spend it with Jack Ma, the co-founder and former executive chairperson of Alibaba Group.
He saw a need, explored it and is currently ranked among the top richest people in the world. He has an authentic story of a purpose-driven life from riding a bicycle to learning English. She adds that failing to pass college exams four times and failing 30 job interviews did not stop him.
"He is a true meaning of resilience, if I ever meet him, I would ask what kept motivating him," she says. In the next 10 years, Namaganda sees herself at the helm of strategic communications and thought leadership. Asked who she wants to come back to life as, Namaganda prefers coming back as Liz Murray.
"Life gave her lemons and she made lemonade. I fell in love with her after reading her book, My Journey from Homeless to Harvard," she says. Namaganda is also the proprietor of Twist n' Bounce, company, which deals in children's entertainment. She is also rotarian in the Rotary Club of Kitante.
Inspiring the community
Namaganda says the only way to confirm her being inspiring is people taking back their pens and write their stories after reading her book.