"Aah! So Zain is giving you job. And you are leaving?" screamed my Naija boss, hands clutched against both temples, eyes dilated in an apparent facade of surprise. The company had since rebranded to Airtel, though many – including my then boss – still called it Zain.
I’d just broken news of my impending exit after two years of protracted contract negotiations that had eventually realized a "massive" UGX 200,000 increment.
Often jolly and cordial, the incessant haggling was starting to make him behave like a parsimonious love-child of Arsene Wenger and your average corporate auditor.
On March 14, 2011, Airtel Uganda ran an advert in one of the dailies looking for "Team leader: RF Network Planning".
I didn't not have the exact qualifications, having done IT and Computing. But I had finally got one thing I had been seeking for some time – the email address where I could channel my overtures.
Getting the email address meant that I would not have to physically whore my skills looking for non-existent job openings, lugging brown envelopes in town and going through the rigorous security checks at the company’s premises.
So I sent in my application to the said address, hoping it would not be served with an express ticket to the recycle bin.
It did not, thankfully, for I would receive a call from Julie about two months later, summoning me for an interview at the company premises.
"Hello. We received your CV, and we have a role we would like to interview you for", said a silky voice at the other end of the line.
Long story short, a skills audit from Julie’s technical team gave me the nod, officially assuming my new role on May 16, 2011.
I was now set for the long-awaited switch that forms a significant part of the manuscript for my book – Diary of a corporate slave – part one of which I hope to complete once I get the necessary muscle to hire Nick Twinamatsiko’s Kisana Consults for the final edits and subsequent publishing.
As the Talent Engagement Manager, Julie was the equivalent of a talent scout in professional football. Once she was done snaring you, you would be handed over to other HR functions of the resource talent conveyor belt that was Airtel Uganda.
One of these functions was "Learning and Development" (or something similar), a department that was efficiently run by goggle-eyed Marie A Lutaaya as the resident specialist.
Marie had this never-ending catalogue of in-house and online courses that you had either had to do or forfeit part of your annual bonus – if you didn’t cut the grade (of course I always chose the former, partly because I wanted the bonus).
I particularly liked the 3G training because our lecturer had bungled this bit at University.
Marie and Julie ran HR (and their lives, to an extent) like a pair of Siamese twins in a rollercoaster professional journey that sees them run rings around one of the biggest banks in town today.
Born on the same day of the month, exactly 731 days apart, Human Resource Management’s dynamic duo turns X and X+2 years respectively, today.
So here’s to you, Julie and Marie; to a delightful and fun-filled birthday. May you live long enough to continue being the excellent professionals you’ve always been!