‘Build confidence in the team to help uplift them’

Musinguzi (R) helps to feed a baby elephant at the zoo. photo/file

What you need to know:

James Musinguzi: He is the executive director of Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre, known to many as the Zoo-Entebbe. Musinguzi is also the president of all the Zoos Associations in Africa and says one of his major drivers is being able to build strong teams.

Eighteen years! What has it been like superintending over the zoo all this time as the executive director?

Teamwork. I have been able to succeed in forming a team of highly qualified and passionate Ugandans to the extent that Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), is the best in East and Central Africa in terms of animal welfareand putting in place relevant policy and regulatory framework.

What is your leadership style?

I am a democratic leader. I listen to people, I empathise and give people opportunities to be what they want to be. I try to identify their potential, strengths and weaknesses so that I support them to become better.

Then the confidence I build in my colleagues has uplifted them. We have a small budget but we ensure that everyone fits in that budget to do what they are supposed to do while equally feeling supported.

How have you made UWEC a better working place than you found it?

We have improved the sanitary facilities, shades, revamped exhibits, the hospital and the reptiles’ house. We brought new products such as tigers, changed the gate and we are currently working on automation of our entrance and online booking. There has been improvement of business processes and going online to eliminate the process of using cash as well is promoting efficiency in our services.

How do you harness teamwork?

It involves identifying people’s talents and weaknesses but also enabling them to do tasks on their own. They have been able to run projects, have written proposals, have attracted funding, write papers, present them at international conferences, we are members of different world forums and I am the president of all the Zoos Associations in Africa.

We have also been able to leverage on partnerships; local, regional and international. This has increased our visits to 400,000, which has boosted our income.

James Musinguzi the executive director of Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre, known to many as the Zoo-Entebbe. Photo/Courtesy

What is your favourite animal?

The giraffe because it is strategic, looks far. I like looking far and in the future. Life is not about today, we need to see ahead. I love the shoebill because it teaches us a lot about evolution, where we have come from and where we are going.

What do you love about your job?

I love my job because it involves a lot of passion and looking after life, it gives me a lot of satisfaction. When the workers grow from internship or volunteering and become staff, I am impressed.

When not behind the desk, how do you spend your leisure time?

I am a servant in church where I am the head of laity of St. John’s Parish Entebbe. I am also a member of Entebbe club, so I play golf and interact with people from all walks of life so that we can get partnerships with our organisation.

What is the Uganda you want to see?

I want to see a Uganda that is appreciated by Ugandans, Uganda is the best and most admired country in the world because I have been to all continents but it appears we do not know it. I want us to know what it means to be Ugandan.

We need to improve our services so that many tourists can come and drive on a smooth road all the way to Queen Elizabeth or even fly to Kidepo without spending much time.

What reasons would you give someone to encourage them to visit the conservation centre?

You are able see Uganda at a glance as all Uganda’s protected areas have been themed. You will see the big seven animals, plants including medicinal plants and a number of activities to involve yourself in.

You can do a normal tour, feed animals, you can be a keeper for a day, you can adopt an animal, you can sponsor an animal, so we are calling upon our supporters to come and join the struggle of conservation.