Makerere University held their 70th Graduation Ceremony and over 13,000 students graduated in different disciplines. Mr Alvin Mbugua, the Managing Director of Uganda Breweries Ltd is perhaps the first among the pool of CEOs in Uganda to find time and tip the fresh graduates on expectations of the job market. Below is his message as copied from his LinkedIn.
It was quite the eventful weekend as 13,000 students were recognised for having completed various degrees from Makerere University.
Someone on Twitter wondered why a certain family in their neighbourhood had been celebrating their child’s graduation all week, and in response, another user asked, “Have you ever undertaken a 20-year project?”. Taking a child through school, straight from nursery all through to the university is mentally, emotionally and financially tasking.
As a result, proud families came together as parents and guardians appreciated their children’s’ dedication to acquiring a university-level education.
Congratulations to all those who graduated last week, but you are now about to play in the murky waters of adulthood and responsibility.
After graduating, the pressure to make something of oneself in a world that demands absolute dedication to one’s purpose is real and for those who don’t have the privilege of connections or family businesses to join, this period can be filled with the fear of not knowing what’s next. I like to think many of us have been there, and it’s only right that we share some insights on how we overcame this period and eventually made it to where we are now.
So, here’s my story, and I hope it can spark something in you that will drive you to the greatness you aspire to.
In my 5 years at university, my mentors at the time all gave the same advice: While on campus, it’s not what happens in the classroom that prepares you for life, its what happens outside of the classroom. In my first year, I wanted to work at NASA, which is why I studied Geospatial Engineering. When I got to my second year, I wanted to join Military Intelligence because it looked so appealing at the time. By the time I got to my third year, I was thinking about impact assessment, working for the UN and making a change.
After uni, I studied the world around me and realised that my impact would be in the private sector, and driving change in industry. I remember telling an interviewer, with my Geospatial Engineering degree in hand, that I was interested in finance and he told me I was nuts.
But, I had an ethos within me to seek opportunities and follow them to the end, which is a RITE OF PASSAGE we all must go through. Be bold, be fearless and chase after what you want.
It was around this time that I learned to define and anchor my purpose.
I wrote myself a mission statement which I still adhere to. It went something like this: I want to make a difference for Africa to build on its socio-economic strengths, create public-private platforms that can maximise our resource-base and deliver Sub-Saharan Africa into a middle-income economy.
This anchored me in terms of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
At 23 years old and only a few months out of campus, I got my first job as the CEO of a small company in Ghana that was in a net deficit position and the employees had not been paid in 4 months.
It was my first time in Ghana and I was leading a multicultural team with people from Ghana, Nigeria, Estonia, Kenya and Germany. With all these odds stacked against me, we managed to redefine the company ethos and turn a profit.
Some of the things we had to do to get to the point of success were simply dire, but how you handle those moments is what gives you the muscle to go through the rest of your life. For me, overcoming all those transitions at that age in a single year gave me the guidance I needed to deal with leadership for all the assignments I would undertake in the future.
They say that the essence of your life is defined between the ages of 19 and 26. After that, you simply repeat those experiences for the rest of your life.
Please don’t underestimate those experiences.
As you journey into the world, clearly state your purpose and seek opportunities that will challenge and eventually build you. You will experience both failures and wins but at the end of the day, you will trust in your own ability to pull through.
Pay close attention to what’s happening in the world around you and strive to find how you can contribute to your organisation, your society and your country.
These are the things that will give you a competitive edge as an individual.