Do you sometimes feel stuck and confused? You are not alone.
In late 1998, I had just completed Senior Six. I looked for a job and failed to get one. That is when I heard about the British American Tobacco (BAT) recruitments for bailing clerks and casual workers. At the time, BAT’s business model was supporting tobacco out-growers farmers and guaranteeing the market. BAT had established several offices across the country as Tobacco buying and processing centres. All these offices were centrally controlled at the head office in Kampala, then located next to the Immigrations offices, opposite the Meat Packers, in the offices currently occupied by MTN Uganda which BAT Uganda sold to them.
The worst punishment to any human being is healthy, competent and energetic but lacking a job or something to do. Aware of the need to stay up-to-date with the latest news and happenings, I would visit a local shop, which was tended by an older man who always bought newspapers. He always told me: “leaders are readers”. This man helped me to appreciate the importance of being informed. Reading opens up your mind and your life, he would say.
It was during one of such days that I landed on a Newspaper of the previous month, where BAT had advertised vacancies for several jobs at their various offices. And Hoima district had been mentioned, and the interviews were being conducted the very week I was reading the papers. And they needed senior six finalists.
During a career training session, someone had told us that, during the holiday always have your application with you, ready. All you need to change is the application letter to the specific company, and employers prefer handwritten application letters than printed ones. So, we all moved with photocopies of our academic papers, just in case an opportunity knocked.
Upon reading the advert for positions, I dropped the papers and rushed to the BAT offices, with my handwritten application only to find the gate closed. Just an hour had passed after stopping to receive applications. I was confused. I tried to beg the man at the gate; he could not listen. He said that “even if I accept the application, no officer will work on it. Do you want me to take it and throw it in the rubbish bin?” I asked him, is there anyone who can help if I spoke to him or her? He said, how would you reach them? I said: you don’t mind, tell me. He replied, the Human Resource Manager. By then, mobile phones were not in vogue. I asked for the office phone, which the gateman refused to give me.
Without hope, I started walking away from the gate.
For some reason, as I walked away, I remembered the Hoima RDC having visited our school and telling us about never giving up. He told us, feel free to visit my office for guidance and any help. I got an idea: what if I rushed to the RDC and told him to introduce me to the Human Resources Manager? I visited the RDC’s office. It was about 3 pm, and with luck, I found the man at the office. I requested to see the RDC, and when I was asked the reasons for the meeting, I told them the headmaster of our school had sent me. I was quickly ushered in.
While there, I introduced myself and thanked him for the speech he made to our candidate class. He was so happy. I told him how I needed his help contact the Human Resources Officer at BAT so that they could accept my application.
Because most people who went to him asked for cash, he was so happy that I asked for a simple thing: a phone call. He instantly requested his personal Secretary to call BAT. The Secretary called the BAT Hoima Office country leader. When she signalled the RDC, that the call had gone through, he started talking. He introduced himself and said he needed a small favour. “I have one of my many sons here, he says he came late, and his application was rejected at the gate. But you people, you know you must help farmers. The boy came from the village. It is about 20 kilometres from here. How do you expect them to be at your office even before 2 pm?”
I was listening to everything on the phone.
The man on the other side asked, “do you still have the boy in your office?” The RDC replied in affirmative. The man said, please hold on. We could hear on the call, the man on the other side of the call asking his Secretary to call HR to his office. And within a few minutes, the HR entered the room.
After a short discussion, which we could not hear, the man said, please ask the boy to bring his papers now. When he reaches the gate, let him say he wants to see Peter. I will tell them now to expect him.
The RDC put the phone down, and said, take your papers now. You are lucky; they will accept your application. I thanked him and bolted out. I went running. If you know Hoima, you know the location of the Post Office around Boma grounds. I ran from there to Kiryateete, about five to six kilometres distance.
When I reached the gate, they already expected me.
The man who had rejected my application said, “how did you do it?” I told him that you told me who to call. And as they say, the rest is history. I succeeded in the interviews and got a job as a bailing clerk. That job was a turning point for me.
Looking back at that experience, I realise that you can win against all the odds. It depends on your attitude and how you react to what is thrown at you. How I was able to think about approaching the guest of honour at our year-end party, still surprises me. But it happened and changed my life. You too, can overcome any challenge. Just keep your head up and face problems with the right attitude. No one is against you. It is your journey. Take it with confidence.Great leaders are like doors. Their work is to support others to tap into any opportunities. And such does not require money. It requires making such critical calls for anyone who needs it which only your office can make. Click To Tweet
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.