A tribute to Amos Bagumire, AB, (1968– 2020), a great board trainer

If you wanted to be calmed down and uplifted, you went to Amos Bagumire, or AB, as we fondly referred to him at EY
  1. If you wanted to be calmed down and uplifted, you went to Amos Bagumire, or AB, as we fondly referred to him at EY by the initials of his name. To me, Amos was Mr. Calmer. He always calmed us especially when deadlines where upon us!

The family of the late,
Fellow mourners,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
We have lost a friend, mentor, colleague, and a very professional man.

  1. I first met Amos at the Sheraton hotel, where he was one of the speakers at a conference. His presentation was the highlight of the day. As he walked out of the conference hall, I ran after him and caught up. “Excuse me, sir,” I said. He stopped and looked at me. I said: “That was a great presentation you just gave, sir.” “Great you liked it. So, how may I help you?” he asked. I wanted you to know that I was in the room. In case we happen to meet again. That was way back in 2005. I asked him: “what does it take to work at Ernst & Young?” with his trademark smile, replied instantly, “right attitude, integrity, and hard work.”

 

  1. At the time, I had a first degree, ACCA, CISA, and CrFA professional and was pursuing an MBA. I used to move around as if stepping on eggs. But Amos did not even what to know about the qualifications. Later, he would tell me that papers mean nothing. He respects skills and what one can do. I tried to learn a lot about the big four firms and there were so many stories. Someone once told me, to join a big firm like EY, you must either have gone to the traditional schools like Kings College Buddo or Mwiri as that demonstrated intellectual firepower or you come from a highly connected family to make it easy for the firm to get the deals. The first one is true. You really must be brilliant to be at EY. So, I decided to wait for open vacancies and try my luck.

 

  1. Late 2006, I called Amos and said, “I have been reading papers for open vacancies at EY, but nothing yet. Do I have any chance? Did you stop stop recruiting?” Amos instantly remembered me and said “Mustapha, people with the right attitude never wait for open vacancies. They just apply and follow up consistently.”

 

  1. That was Amos. Always straight and practical. The insight opened my eyes. I searched about the partners and managers at EY. And then learned that the managing partner loved playing Golf a lot. At the time I could not afford the membership fee, but I read about Golf and decided just to go to the Club to be seen by any of the partners. And it worked. As luck would have it, I saw JMB at the canteen. And I made sure he saw. So, even before I submitted my application, I went to the EY reception and asked to see John. When the Secretary asked who I was, “I said I met John at the Golf Club, and he said I visit him.” When she told John Muhaise-Bikalemesa (JMB), he just said, “bring him up.” And while there, he called Amos and asked him to interview me.

 

  1. And that is how I got the job.

 

  1. In a firm like EY, we sell professional services. We sell expertise. It is made of people with character and skills to handle advanced stuff. But one day, Amos got a job to recruit for a financial institution. We received over 500 applications. They were so many. So, Amos asked me to shortlist them. I went to the EY house basement and was lost for words. Why would Amos give me this blue-collar task of going through the CVs? I was furious. But I did it and learned a lot in the process. So, later, I asked him, why did you give me that task. He said, “Mustapha, not money. Not machinery. The single factor that separates great companies from average ones, is people. I do not care how many qualifications you have but if you cannot select the best team and empower it to lead. You have failed.” What you did has empowered you to be a great consultant. Because if you can understand how to select the best people on your team, you will be a winner.

 

  1. And it came to pass.

 

  1. On the boards I serve, and so many assignments I do, people are the key driver. Amos gave me the confidence and foundation in consulting and business advisory.  I thank EY for the opportunity to meet great people like Amos Bagumire, who today has left us to go be with the Angels in heaven.

 

  1. At EY, Amos was a true professional who loved his work. He loved EY – the employer where most of us were impacted by him. He was calm and a good listener, gentle and when you had an issue, he sought to understand your point of view. Then he would give parental counsel. A conversation with him would uplift and give you hope for the future.

 

  1. Amos was always helpful. He could never find you on the road and leave you. A colleague of mine Pius Babyesiza, told me of a story when Amos found him waiting for a taxi, stopped and gave him a lift taking a longer route just to drop him near his home. That was Amos. He always trusted people in his team. When I joined his department at EY, we became close and would trust me to run some of his errands including depositing money. Which I found great. He loved family and would easily connect with you by sharing about his own family to have you open up about yours. He opened up to me about where he stays and about his children. He was a great man, and this country has lost yet another great son of the soil. I was saddened to learn of his passing yesterday, 11th November 2020.

Amos, wherever you are, you lit so many candles. You have run a good race. You have now given us the challenge to keep your name alive. Fare thee well.

John 11:25-26: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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