Maggie Kigozi: 'Know When to Let Go' and other #CEOLifeHacks
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.
One of our guest CEOs in Uganda was Dr. Maggie Kigozi the former CEO of Uganda Investment Authority. She also sits on the Advisory Board of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda, is a Board Member of Uganda Manufacturers Association, President of the Business and Professional Women Uganda and is a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative of the Aspen Institute and Trustee of the Shell Foundation.
These are some of our favourite pieces of advice from her on why it's never too late to pivot into your passion, why you need to let your team lead regardless of their level, how to prioritise at different stages of your career, and how an insatiable quest for knowledge keeps her out of complacency.
What was your worst career decision?
We didn’t have career guidance when I was in school, so if you were smart you went into medicine which is what I did. It wasn’t what I was passionate about so it was a bad career move to follow my father’s dream. Luckily though I was still able to follow my dream in the end. Moving into the private sector was the best career decision I ever made because I find it much more exciting.
What have you learned as a CEO that you wish you knew before?
I always thought I knew everything and that I was the best at doing everything so I always wanted to head everything. Eventually I recognised that actually the people who are working for me are really good at what they do, and when you give them opportunities to do well they will make you shine.
What do you think it’s like to work for you?
I’m a nice boss but I will challenge you. I give opportunities to shine and most people take that and run with it positively. My Chairman always used to tell me to stop being everyone's mother but I can’t help it.
What happens when someone in your team fails?
Because I mother my team, when things go wrong I'm good at sitting down with them and saying 'this went wrong, we should have done it this way, but you have another chance for next time'. I know that people fail sometimes but it’s not for lack of trying.
How do you make sure that you're not settling for mediocrity?
I strive for excellence by making sure that I’m always seeking knowledge. I take any opportunity to learn whether that’s online, at conferences or taking courses to make sure that I stay on top. I always want to know more.
How do create or sustain your networks?
I am the patron of the secretaries in Uganda so when your appointment is cancelled and given to me, then you know why.
How do you encourage leadership within your team?
By giving people opportunities to lead regardless of their level, particularly giving junior members in my team the chance to run the meetings or lead projects.
How do you structure your downtime for work life balance?
I learned that you have to set your priorities based on what is important to you. When my children were still young they came first, then once they were older my job went back to being my priority. Now that I have grandchildren I'm back to square zero as they come first.