Betty Ogiel’s career to calling dream

Betty Ogiel facilitating at one of the trainings. She encourages employees to take ownership of their personal and professional lives. Photos/Joan Salmon

What you need to know:

  • Supporting dreams: Betty Ogiel’s passion for grooming leaders started while she was a human resource manager at TotalEnergies, where her employer supported her career even in tough times.

Currently an inspirational speaker and Career Coach, Betty Ogiel Rubanga, was the first African in 2021 to win the overall Maxwell leadership team DNA award against 42,000 trainers and coaches globally. She has also shared a platform with John C. Maxwell, a leadership coach and received the best HR Manager awards in the area of employee engagement in Uganda in 2016 and 2017.
Ogiel has a passion for setting people for success and significance; speak life into people, give them hope and build resilience thus transforming lives. She draws from her life and work experiences to appreciate that many people are on the verge of giving up and shining hope their way will make a difference. 

The author of Against All Odds is also a human resource consultant with more than 18 years of experience in corporate companies; Ernst and Young as well as TotalEnergies. 
Ogiel’s journey begins in Karamoja where her only and trusted family member abandoned her to well-wishers to see her through school. Years down the road, in 2006, she got an accident that left her 100 percent disabled. However, her turning point was when her then managing director at the then Total Uganda visited her and assured her, in her vegetable state, that they would wait for her. 
They gave her an open invitation to the office after being discharged, which they said would help with her recovery, coupled with dedicating the award they won from head office to her. 

“My mentor always says everything rises and falls on leadership. If my managing director had not given me reassurance, I would have lost hope. That partially drives my passion of ‘inspiring hope’ because someone did the same for me.  I learnt that God wants me to be a conduit of blessings to others. So I am paying it forward,” she says.
In 2007, despite having impaired speech and still dealing with side paralysis, owing to the accident, Ogiel won the ‘best employee of the month’ award, having participated in establishing the HR information system. 
“My responsibility was to roll it out and implement it in the Uganda office, which was a major accomplishment given that we had previously relied on manual processes. In 2009, I also won another ‘best employee’ award. While I had been passionate about my work, owing to the gestures of the MD, I had understood that the company valued me beyond the services I offered having been there for me through my trying times,” she says.

In 2014, TotalEnergies Uganda had a change of leadership and in Ogiel’s words, “he was a transformational and charismatic MD who gave anyone reason to be excited about going to work.” 
She adds that he also desired to improve staff performance thus inviting Ogiel, who was then the acting human resource manager, to discuss how to make that happen. She was then given the responsibility to better employee mindset and her suggestion was to have a staff retreat, which was endorsed. The magnet to this retreat was a mindset coach and Ogiel had her eyes set on Phillip Kambe, who in a few minutes had influenced her mindset in 2008 even when she could hardly speak.

Betty Ogiel. Photos/Joan Salmon

“After getting him and going through all the preparations, the retreat was set for the weekend; from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening and it was mandatory for all staff. By Monday morning, people’s mindsets were far from what they were on Friday morning. On a personal basis, Kambe uncaged my potential and I had the power to use it as I pleased. I wonder why some organisations fear to close shop to take care of the needs of their staff. Three days is not so much because with strong systems and structures, the company will not close,” Ogiel says.

A few months later, Ogiel was recommended to attend the Future Female Programme (FFP), a nine-month female leadership programme. 
“It was one of my most joyous moments in employment because on my own, it was quite costly, going for about Shs10m then. I felt valued once again,” she says.
Going for FFP, Ogiel was blown away because they picked from what Coach Kambe had deposited in her. During these nine months, she also made her first life plan because while she had agreed with herself at the start of her HR career that she would retire to self-employment at 45 years, Ogiel had not written it down.
“This time, my goals were very clear. I also set out to write a book because all along, I hoped to write one but had never gone ahead with it. With this life plan, I set out to make it a reality,” she says.
Owing to the life plan, Ogiel became intentional about pursuing her dreams. For example, from this experience, she runs ‘Next Level’ and Own Your Growth trainings.
During the nine months, they grouped and one of her group members invited a purpose coach. However, he was a book writer, a very pivotal thing for Ogiel, who needed to work on her book. “In February 2017, Against All Odds hit the bookshop,” she says. 

With her passion clearer, at the end of 2017, Ogiel started building the Against All Odds brand because her plan was to retire on December 31, 2021. However, in the last half of 2021, two of her colleagues resigned. Not willing to leave the department handicapped since there was no particular career path set out, save her vision, Ogiel chose to hold on until a replacement was found and the department had stabilised. Sadly, she got diagnosed with Covid-19. 

“It was the second Christmas with Covid-19 and this time, it was coupled with a diagnosis of acute pancreatitis. That night, I remained awake certain that if I slept off, I would die, so I wanted to see how I would start dying. With that, insomnia coupled with anxiety set in, so I got a therapist,” she shares. Evaluating the situation, Ogiel mentally lived out her life plan of hanging up the formal employment gloves that day. 
“I had to learn to focus on my health and family. My body was literally screaming at me, and even though I tried to return to my desk to ensure the stability of the department, my body kept screaming at me and I knew it was time to let go. So, on February 1, 2022 I gave my three months’ notice of resignation as required by my employment contract,” she says. 
Today, Ogiel is a certified speaker and trainer with Maxwell Leadership Certified Team and trains her clients in career to calling transition. 

“Career to calling does not mean leaving your career. It is about refining you to become very good at what you are doing; becoming a star performer,” she says. 
Ogiel credits her employer’s investment in her because had she not listened to Coach Kambe or gone for FFP, some things in her life would not have aligned. 
“I loved TotalEnergies Uganda enough to keep serving, but also learned my passion and calling enough to let go,” she says.