You need hard work, honesty, innovation

Friday May 8 2020

Experience. James Byaruhanga , an entrepreneur,

Experience. James Byaruhanga , an entrepreneur, shares his business management models. PHOTO BY EDGAR R. BATTE 

By EDGAR R. BATTE

Please walk me through your education journey..
I went to Kigezi High School Primary. I know the name is funny but this is a junior school. I then joined St Mary’s College Kisubi for O-Level and Makerere College School for A- Level.

I studied Computer Science and Mathematics, completed with a BSc Hons Degree at Makerere University. I proceeded to undertake specialist trainings in data networking in UK, Dubai, South Africa, Kenya and Mozambique that came mostly with my job at a given time.

Where have you worked?
I have worked with DFCU Bank, Sys Corp International, Africa Online, MTN, Roke and currently with Raxio Data Centre. I have served in various capacities ranging from system engineering, network engineering, network manager, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and General Manager.

I have also been involved in multiple businesses from an entrepreneurship perspective in the range of entertainment, hospitality, fintech, telecom and impact examples of these entities are Roke Telkom, House of Djs, Trade Lance, Bakiga Nation, Shisa Nyama, Charge Ko.

What best describes what your job entails?
Well, this varies. My role at Raxio currently involves overseeing construction of the data centre, overseeing the commercial processes of the business not forgetting establishing the Human Resource (HR) and administration.

However, the different business ventures I invested in have their own staff and management teams, who I support as a director or an investor in the business. This, therefore, requires constant engagement with the management teams on these businesses for strategic rather than operational involvement.
How do you manage to balance between jobs that are not professionally centred and related?
It is not very easy; in fact, it is very difficult. The ideal situation is being able to stretch your workday and work week in order to create time to engage with the resources that work with the other entities. The success of this model heavily depends on the willingness and drive of the people that run the operations of those entities.

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Several models work for me, but failure is not to be discounted either since time is of essence in order to get the best results. It is a continuous learning curve but, in my experience, your business is only as good as the people and the time you invest in.
How has the covid-19 pandemic changed the way you operate business?
Covid has been a massive challenge to everyone, especially because of the fluid nature of its impact. Limitation in movement has affected the hospitality business and the data centre. social distancing has affected the entertainment business, impact and data centre construction. And so on as so forth.

We have been forced to refocus our attention on re-planning for the future and pivoting our service delivery, with limited success so far.

What seems to be important and critical during this outbreak is brand health by the end of the tunnel, management of business expectations and projections, cash flow management due to continued opex and no revenue.

Remote working has been extremely busy and hectic, but it helps to stay on top of things.
Can I predict the future? No! However, I strongly believe that covid-19 has been an equaliser, a hard reset so to speak. therefore, there is opportunities to compete favourably in almost all markets, but planning is critical to stay afloat.
What is a typical day like for you?
Well, there is never a dull day in my life, it’s always “crisis” and I am always in battle mode, I am always trying to sort out something. This is not a surprise though since you want to try and get the best results out of every situation.

This is not an ideal situation because you can easily become a slave of your work and there is a thin line to trade in the effort to balance work and life.

It also has a ripple effect where your work conversations spill into social life, you can easily become very boring in conversation. However, I typically wake up and start working before I get out of bed, and that will be the story of my day until I get back home.

I try to switch off when I get home and my critical success point in this area is to stop working when I get home. One of the covid-19 benefits so to speak, I am really enjoying being at home and enjoying time with my family.

How did you end up in your current role?
Well, it was a good coincidence, the franchise owners of one of my business interests were looking to invest in a data centre project, and I and a few partners in another business were coincidentally looking for someone to invest in a data centre project. I drove the conversation and here we are.

It was a good coincidence so to speak. In business, when you keep conversations open, opportunities come up.

What work ethics and principles do you uphold and why?
Hard work, honesty, innovation and patience make a very strong combination. A wise woman who has been coaching me for about a year told me that everything in business is about people, money and time. I try to correlate these ethics and principles to those areas and make them work

If you were to mentor someone, what key traits would you like to pass on?
I would refer them to my basics. I am already involved in a mentorship programme, which is low key.

I recently changed this into a once a month face to face programme where I focus my conversations with start-ups. I am hoping to be part of the next big story that breaks out of this region.

rbatte@ug.nationmedia.com

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