Morning Rituals, Career Bucket Lists and Building Winning Teams with Tullow Oil's Uganda GM #CEOLifeHacks

There isn’t enough time or energy to do everything yourself. I had to learn to let go of things I’m passionate about in order for the work to get done.

CEO Night, Uganda Q2 2017

In the second quarter of every year, we run a series of ‘CEO Nights’ where the current CEOs/Chairs of the top 100 companies in each country spend time with the community of 'next-in-line CEOs' that make up The Africa List to unpack what the jump from C-suite to CEO really looks like, and how best to prepare for it. We only run 'CEO Night' once a year so to make the interactions with the CEOs in attendance as structured and useful as possible, this year we put some of our guest CEO/Chairs in the hot seat and groups of members took turns grilling them on their 'CEO Life Hacks' in productivity, leadership and management strategies and their personal journey. 

Jimmy Mugerwa has been the General Manager for Tullow Oil Uganda since 2012, where he was the first ever Ugandan GM for the country's biggest oil player. He joined from Shell where he held a range of managerial positions in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and The Netherlands. Mr Mugerwa brings almost 20 years of experience in managing large and diverse international teams including leading the establishment of Shell in East Africa consolidating Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania into a unified sales and operations organisation in 2009. He has also led large change management programmes which have resulted in increased profitability, market share and efficiency. 

Here are some of our favourite insights from him on how you know when you're leading well, how to make your team feel like they are winning, how he prioritises his day and what's still left on his bucket list. 

How do you know when you are leading well?

When your attrition rate isn’t high! As a team we have goals, and there is nothing more fulfilling than when your team are feeling like they are winning. My personal goals are to grow as a leader too, so success for me comes from my team feeling proud that they are part of the team.

What do you think it’s like to work for you?

I’d like to think that the people that work for me feel like they are contributing, delivering value, growing, that they are part of a winning team, and that they have a good leader. 

What's still on your career bucket list?

I remember sitting with the CEO of Shell 30 years ago and he asked me where I see myself in 15 years. I was brave enough to tell him that I see myself sitting on his side of the table. I thought it was a career limiting move but he always remembered that. I've done all the things I set out to do - become a manager, then a CEO, sit on boards, work in different countries. But I’m lucky that lots of people have invested in me to get me to where I am, so I’d like to spend more time doing the same for other people and giving back to society. 

How do you prioritise your day for peak performance?

Everything I do has got to move the needle in some way - either for the organisation, for my team, for my people, or for myself. So the things I pick on to work have got to do that. I start by planning my day pretty early and I choose the things I’m going to do and the things I’m intentionally not going to do. The things I’m not going to do, I delegate. At the end of the day I try and look at my scorecard before planning for the next day. 

How has your leadership style changed over time?

When I was first appointed manager in my twenties I wanted to do everything because I didn’t trust people. It took me a while to learn that you actually work through people. There just isn't the time or the energy to do everything yourself. My management style change has been letting go of things I’m passionate about in order for the work to get done.

What do the first 2 hours of your day look like?

I wake up at 4am because that is the only time I have silence and solitude meditating on how my previous day was, and then thinking through my priorities for the present day. By the time I’m done I feel in control of my life. No one is whatsapping me or tweeting me at that hour. If I don’t have those 2 hours, I’m lost for the rest of the day.

How do you judge your success?

As a business we have a scorecard where we monitor and track performance. On a people level it’s making sure that people are growing, that job satisfaction is high. I set personal goals at the beginning of the year, so I look at how closely I’m aligning with that so it’s an iterative process that allows me to see if the lights are turning green or red.

Find out more about Jimmy on his LinkedIn profile here, and more about the Uganda community of The Africa List on their country page here.