A customer is king but not always right

Dealing with clients requires patience. Photo / Internet

What you need to know:

  • Advertising: John Paul Ssemakula is a connections manager at Nile Breweries Limited. He is also an experienced accounts manager with more than five years under his belt in the advertising industry. He describes himself as a creative, proactive person who believes in imagination because of how far it can drive one, writes  Deus Bugembe.

A new phenomenon has taken the global workforce by storm known as “quiet quitting” – a new term where employees set boundaries with work-life balance, limit their workload and essentially just do the bare minimum of work.
In load and not let their job and managers control their lives outside work.
Essentially, quiet quitting is about making a healthy work-life balance.

Is quiet quitting new?
Adapted from jpostcom What is a typical day like on your job? 
I assess projects and make suggestions to refine them for approval from various committees within the bank. I also supervise and follow up to ensure projects are delivered on time within cost and where there are challenges, there is recovery of funds to ensure that the shareholder does not lose money. 
If projects are successful, they will employ people and business generates tax which helps government put up infrastructure.

How have you got to where you are today?
It is a combination of not only the schools I attended but guidance from my parents, mentors, experience, hard work, preparation, networks, luck and skills I have gained. The challenges and adversities have helped push me look outside and once I looked outside, I found an opportunity to propel me. 
I was fortunate in several ways to have gotten an opportunity to further my education soon after finishing my bachelor’s degree. I studied my master’s in Accounting and Finance, specialising in risk management at a time when it was an emerging field, also the financial markets had started to collapse in Europe, leading me back home where Bank of Uganda had issued guidelines for reforms in the banking space, especially in the RM space.

What is your typical day like?
It starts off around 6am. I do some light reading and catch up with social media, then head out to the office, which is five minutes away. My day is usually comprised of planning and coordinating with the internal teams; sales and trade, marketing as well as external parties such as the agency, sponsorship owners, event organisers etc. Meetings sometimes even go on into the evening.

Did you set out to be a connections manager growing up?
Not really, I always wanted to be a lawyer but fate led me to economics, which is what I studied at university. After my degree, I took charge of my career. I did a few gigs modelling in TV commercials. That is how I got to know about the advertising/agency life. I joined Moringa, now TBWA\Uganda. There, I got interested in marketing and enrolled at Chartered Institute of Marketing. The rest as they say, is history.
What does a connections manager do?
To put it briefly, I am in charge of key consumer touch-points; media (traditional and digital), sponsorships and events. I basically connect the dots to the overall brand strategies.
 You have been promoting brands and developing marketing strategies. Are there some business nuggets you would like to share?
 The consumer is king but they are not always right, sometimes they do not know what is best until you show them. It is up to the brand/marketing teams to tap into the insights, both local and foreign, to deliver what is best fit for the target consumer.
What skills does it take to be a good connections manager in the 21st century?
Knowledge of the media and digital communications world, acute sense of people organisation and project management as well as a keen interest in what gets the consumer moving. 

What has been the greatest challenge in your career path and how did you tackle it?
The biggest challenge was transitioning from the agency world to client side. It has taken me some time to adjust, knowing what I know about things on the other side. I have had to be a little more patient with my agency team, without compromising the integrity of the brands. It is a fine line to walk and I am expected to wear both hats from time to time.

Have you registered any achievements in your career path so far?
Taking on the biggest sponsorship rugby or even sports in Uganda has ever seen, perhaps even the region. Rugby is a passion, however, signing more than a Shs9.8b cheque felt extra sweet because of what that meant strategically to the brand. It was a major win as we now owned the key properties and could work hand-in-hand with the rugby union, in full confidence that we are all aligned with the plans to grow the sport to even greater heights. This is already evidenced when Kyadondo hosted Rugby Africa 7s where the national team qualified for the World Cup. The event was full of colour and energy, the results spoke volumes.

Has there been a time when you felt like you were on the wrong career path and should be doing something different?
Never. I always kind of knew where I was headed and kept moving. Of course there are always hurdles and doubts about when things will fall in place but we move, with time you get there.

Where do you see yourself in regard to your career, five years down the road?
Hopefully leading the field, at the forefront of a dynamic and robust marketing environment whether here in Uganda or abroad.

If you had a platform to speak to young people trying to follow your career path, what would you tell them?
Do not stop dreaming and dream big. Let no one come between you and your vision. Work hard and smart until you get there, then dream even bigger. Stay humble.