Life’s work

Briefly, who is Mustapha B Mugisa? How did you start and where are you now? I am a strategy and risk expert. I help

Briefly, who is Mustapha B Mugisa? How did you start and where are you now?

I am a strategy and risk expert. I help leaders and managers thrive telling them what not to do for effective strategy execution. I would say, discovering my true north took some time. At first, accountancy was the thing. I was so good that I landed my first job at Nile Bank (acquired by Barclays) just like that – no job interviews. I was named employee of the month, completed ACCA having won several top exam score prizes, and moved on to Ernst & Young as an auditor. It was challenging but just. I soon started looking. At the time, every business was automating. I saw an opportunity in IT. What if I provided IT security assurance to all these businesses? I soon certified as Information Systems Auditor (CISA).

That’s when I read “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind’  by Joseph C. Murphy. You’ve to continuously invest in your brains. I went to Makerere for an MBA. But the region was getting bad press for bad governance and high rate of corruption and fraud. I soon certified as a Fraud Examiner (CFE). As corruption increased, so was cybercrime. I had to keep up with the times. I became an ethical hacker (CEH) and cyber forensic investigator (CHFI).

After making so many people lose their jobs, and sending some to jail, I realized, rather late that I could add more value by helping people (leaders & their teams) ‘put more money on the table’ (prevention) other than ‘finding out who removed it’  – post-mortem (detection and investigations).

Though I continue to oversee specialized investigations for my special clients, our focus at the Institute of Forensics & ICT Security (IFIS) is enabling companies to do their own investigations through specialized cybersecurity and forensics training. At Summit Consulting Ltd, our focus is improving your condition through crafting a winning strategy and executing it. At the enterprise strategy level, you look down and can see how all the puzzles –operations, supply chain, cyber, automation, risk, accounting, finance, IT, security, human capital, sales and anything in between, fit together. And thanks to my varied qualifications and skills, there are few experts out there who can beat me at fixing strategy &execution for leaders.

How about a Mustapha Bernabas?

I am a product of an inter-religious marriage. Dad, a Moslem, wanted more than Mom, a Christian, could offer over time. She instead moved on along with me in her womb. And that’s how I am called Mugisa, because, in her own words “my survival was by luck.” There she was. Alone. With my other three siblings of Dad, starting a new life in a boy’s quarter at her dad’s (my grandpa’s) place. I grew as Bernabas, and lurked the Church Alter as a boy. While about to register for Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) or senior four, Dad appeared and so was the name “Mustapha.” It got space on all my subsequent academic certificates. But ‘Bernabas’ remains who really I am – an Altar Boy.

In your profession as security and anti-fraud expert, how much of your success is attributed to good parenting versus luck?

As the saying goes, “good luck is when preparedness meets opportunity.” If you want to get lucky, be ready. No one ever passes an exam without having sat for it! With the fair play of course. Parenting is critical to one’s success. I have trained highly as cybersecurity and anti-fraud expert. But I have had to move on to fix the problem at a strategic level – by empowering leaders to lead well with confidence. If leaders craft winning strategies and execute well, staff will have enough to take home. That’s why I spend a lot of time nowadays helping leaders fix strategy execution.

And fraud will reduce considering that majority in Uganda steal out of desperation “the kid is sick’, ‘mortgage is overdue’, ‘nothing to eat at home’, etc.No controls can stand in the way of determined folks to save his child’s life. Few frauds are out of greed. But many fraudsters have rationalizations that are ‘genuine.’ Because there is no good fraud, they call me in to investigate and hold suspects to account. As I grow, I am more about helping such folks put more on the table than curtailing their careers. Empowering them with financial literacy, savings, investments and integrity makes all of us happy.

Growing with a single mother, I learnt a lot about hard work and preparing. I read because that was the only way to escape the village poverty. Every morning we went to dig, Mom would point at drunkards in the village that “you will soon be like them if you don’t read harder.”Walking to school daily. Doing house chores. Carrying water on a Jerrycan and grinding millet by hand, prepared me well for any city challenge. I am trying hard to be a good parent by giving my children a good education and the right mindset of deserving whatever they get amid the digital disruptions and rides to school. Good parenting is everything. Handing wealth to your children without skills to manage it is wastage!

What top two skills would you say one must master to succeed professionally in the consulting industry?

Effective communication and integrity. Write and speak with clarity. Deliver what you promise. Unfortunately, you won’t achieve unless you attain intellectual firepower. Read a book a month, at a minimum.

As a leader, when do you stop asking questions and start setting the direction?

To ask is to discover. No one knows it all. Put your ego aside, and keep asking questions. That is the secret in our profession. Once you identify the best team, you can set the direction and let them continue the asking.

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