Jun 5, 2011. BY SHAMILLA KARA “Sri Lanka’s remittance inflows during 2010 were $4.1b. Compare this to Uganda’s $914m workers’ remittance inflow for the same year. Both countries have flexible, less restrictive money transfer systems. So why are remittances the prime net foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka and not Uganda? “Because Sri Lankans will live and work anywhere and are not afraid of trying new things or going into the unknown,” says Kenneth Kamulegeya, a Ugandan is the country sales manager for Coca Cola Beverages in Sri Lanka.Kamulegeya believes Ugandans are risk averse and fear to step into the unknown, selling themselves short as a result. “We stop ourselves from reaching out to these opportunities just because of our stereotypes. We need to replace fear with facts, knowledge and education.” For Kamulegeya, the world today is a place where anyone can be as long as one is productive. “My wife and I are very comfortable with change.
And for me, my blessing is with my wife because if she wasn’t encouraging, then we probably wouldn’t be here,” says Kamulegeya whose work has taken him to several countries. He says living and working abroad for them means accepting that there is a difference, that people will not be the same and that going out there and celebrating whatever you find in terms of cultural differences, is excellent and offers good learning experience. Before going to Sri Lanka three years ago, Kamulegeya worked in Mozambique with Coca-Cola SABCO since 2004. He worked as the country SAP champion, and was responsible for leading the roll out of SAP for the Coca-Cola SABCO business in Mozambique. Later, he became the country marketing manager.
Career background It has been about soda for most of Kamulegeya’s career. Before going to Mozambique, he worked as the SAP project manager at Century Bottling Company in Uganda, where he was responsible for leading the roll out of SAP for the company. Before that, he had worked as the sales training manager for a year. From 2001 to 2003, he was the regional sales manager at the same company, where he also worked as the area sales manager for two years and as a market development manager, also for two years. “I had the privilege, which is a rare opportunity, to have been on a fast-track on development with the company that I work for,” he says. As a management trainee, Kamulegeya says, he had support that helped him grow. “When we got hired, we were sent to South Africa where we saw how the business works.
With all the assignments that I took on, there was always someone looking out for my success, to do better. “Because of that, I feel privileged. I feel that without that, I could have just been a salesman, just part of the furniture. Fortunately, that’s not what happened.” He adds: “I have been able to do just about anything that you could think of that is important for business. I have done IT rollouts, integrating computing systems, I have had the privilege of working in a marketing environment and in sales.
I have done marketing development and I have been able to do IT and finance.” What sort of challenges do young managers like you face and what advice do you have for someone seeking to follow the same path? “A lot of people get into management and try to be the part and along the way, authenticity is lost. I think that is where young managers go wrong because they get carried away with the title,” says Kamulegeya.
Talking from experience? “Fortunately for me, and maybe its Coca-Cola’s way of working, the one thing one doesn’t get time to do here is celebrate their position because it comes with responsibility. You’ve got goals to deliver on. This keeps one in check,” he adds.
His advice “Don’t get carried away by the title. The fact that you are in charge means that there is an expectation by whoever put you in that position to offer yourself. Just go ahead and do it and the rest will work out,” Kamulegeya says.
How did you work on being what you are? “I have not gone chasing for my career. I have just gone chasing for small improvements every day. I try as much as possible to do the best that I can do and then look for the opportunities that encourage me to do more.” Kamulegeya adds that opportunities find him, although he has worked hard to get where he is.
Where he is headed “I wish that one day when the time is right, when I’m leading an organisation, it will be with honour, intergrity and that there is value that I will bring to all my stakeholders,” says Kamulegeya, a graduate of Edith Cowan University in Australia, where he studied an MBA in international business. He also has an MA in organisation psychology from Makerere University, where he also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Arts.
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