You have nothing to lose by dreaming big

Thursday June 11 2020

Ann Turinayo

Ann Turinayo 


How would you describe yourself to a stranger?
I am an ‘acquired taste’ – don’t judge me only by the first impression. I am perceived to be a tough, abrupt and strict person but when people get to know me, they get to see a soft side of me. I expect people to live by their word.I am result-oriented. I don’t like to play rank. I expect us to take our jobs seriously.

Please walk me through your education and career journey…
Most recently (2018), I graduated from SOAS University of London with a Masters in Global Diplomacy – something I enjoyed very much because I got to write a paper on something that preoccupies me, the lending policies of International organisations and how they respond to policies of recipient countries. I did all my school time in Uganda. I trained and served as a teacher, and an assistant lecturer for about five years before I gave it up to pursue a career in the development sector. I started off as a volunteer. In fact, I had several volunteer positions at the Uganda Red Cross Society when I was doing my Masters at Makerere University, and then at the Kabarole Research and Resource Centre.
How big was your dream when you were a volunteer programme officer in Kabarole?
I always wanted to work in the development Sector. While at KRC, I realised I need to learn more about project/programme design, implementation, M&E, etc. So I went on to the UMI and did a post grad diploma in project planning and management. I always want to learn as much as possible about things I am interested in. I definitely know I still have a way to go – but I am glad that I am on my way.
My motto is: Dreaming is free of charge, no point having small dreams therefore. You have nothing to lose by dreaming big.
What lessons did you learn and pick from volunteering?
Humility is key. Sometimes you will realise that you know more than the people you are volunteering for. If someone is your supervisor, don’t look down on them. Be hungry to learn, be available and volunteer – don’t wait for tasks to be assigned. Go out and look for the tasks and volunteer to do them.
Engage and participate. You might make mistakes but at least you are doing something. Don’t be a self-promoter. Look at the bigger picture. Whatever you do, don’t be aloof.
What has it taken for you to get to where you are?
Prayer, hard work, focus, hard work. I am not the kind of person who talks more than I can do. I have healthy work-private time respect.
I try to keep work away over the weekend unless it is something urgent and reduces on the burden of work. I have a strong work ethic. I have been a consultant before I have a super performance scorecard.
What best describes what your job entails?
My current job requires a wide range of skills – but most importantly, one has to be able to balance the technical with the diplomatic sides of the job.
We partner with governments and support them to implement development programmes that are aligned to their development goals and objectives.
How have you celebrated this promotion/milestone?
I am not the ‘celebrating’ type. It is mostly the joy of sharing the news with my family and thanking God together with them is what I call celebration. I would do a private dance and make some noise kind of celebrating.
What lessons have you learnt in knowledge management?
Well, life is about learning, unlearning, relearning. It is kind of like a cycle. And knowing how to learn from people around us, experiences, the work we do, the formal and informal education by synthesising what we learn and using it to improve processes, innovate, work more effectively and efficiently – this is the art of knowledge management. I guess it is a life skill.
What are your personal plans for the next five years?
Contribute as much as I can to shaping the development of my continent - in the small ways I can as an individual and as a professional. I know that Africa has the capacity and potential to develop. We just need to get rid of the crutches that we cling to – aid is one of them. We can be the solution if we choose to work and pool together. Let’s lift each other up. If I sit on a panel and there is no woman, I will ask why. Each one of us has a part to play in finding a solution to the problems we face.
What do you do to carry on during a difficult day at work?
I usually have music playing. My earphones and I are almost inseparable. Music calms me down and keeps me going. I listen to all kinds of music. Don’t get surprised if you get me listening Paulo Job Kafeero, traditional Rwandan music. I am from Kisoro so I grew up near the border with Rwanda. Some of their music is really deep.
What work ethics and principles do you uphold and why?
Integrity. I do the right thing even when no one is watching. Treat all people equally and fairly especially those you think have no influence on you or cannot return your kindness. Truth. I do each task to the very best of my ability because of my faith. That is how I was raised.

Besides yourself and your job, what or who else do you live for?
My blood family. My parents gave up everything to put me in school and taught me to be confident and to ask question. I am not the type you will ask to jump and I ask how high. I will ask why. Then there is a family that is born in my heart. These are friends.

Who’s the author of the last book you read?
I recently re-read Chimamanda Ngozi’s Americana. I was on a flight and I always read a book.