Excellence. Hard work, education upgrade and a great support system have helped Mbabazi Kabyoma Emejeit, the head of legal affairs at DTB grow her career.
Tell me about yourself
My name is Mbabazi Kabyoma Emejeit, I am currently the head legal affairs and the company secretary of DTB, a role I have held since 2015.
I went to Mt. St Mary’s Namagunga for my secondary education and Makerere University for my Law degree, and then Law development centre for my postgraduate diploma in Law. I did a masters in Commercial Law from the University of Cape town in South Africa. I have also done very many leadership courses. I have done a Women in leadership course at the Institute of National transformation in Uganda.
How has your career grown?
After my diploma in legal practice at the Law Development Centre, I worked in a law firm called Magezi Ibanda and company advocates for two years. From there, I went to Stanbic bank in their credit department and later the legal department. I was there for a short time because I got an opportunity to do my Masters’ degree.
So I left Stanbic Bank and went to the University of Cape Town in South Africa where I did a Masters of Law and when I came back, I joined United Bank of Africa in 2007 and that is where I was until 2015.
Before leaving, I served as head legal and company secretary from 2010.
What does it feel like being a female in such a position?
It is really a big thing for me, especially when the senior management team has10 people, who are all male.
It is a good and a big achievement in managing all those gentlemen, you go to a meeting they come with their views and now you have to convince them to do otherwise especially when they are legal matters. For the ladies in the bank, I am their voice up there.
What do you do to remain relevant or what should lawyers do to remain relevant in this dynamic employment world?
There are many lawyers out there and we all study the same things but the difference is standing out and doing something different. So you have the same lawyers doing the land transactions, the agreements, and securities for the banks.
So for you to be able to stand out, you have to do something different. Get a niche, get an area that you are good at and focus on that. If you are good at drafting contracts focus on that and be very good at it. If it is advisory in trade, then do that. We now have the aspects of trade between countries but we have very few lawyers in that area.
You can reach out to these SMEs for example in Kikuubo, they have a lot of money, they might need to borrow and need the services of a lawyer.
Who was your greatest mentor?
It is very tough to choose between my sister and my father. My sister is the first born and she is a very high achiever and I am the last born. She set the pace for us. She is a statistician and CEO of Kirimu Trust. She would always put success questions in my head. She has always been my mentor.
She always minds about my network. She believes in the “show me your network and I will know your net worth” principle. My father has encouraged us to always have voices and always pushed us to get to the top.
How do you work hard without neglecting your family and social life?
I always have a support village around me so that they can be where I cannot be. So, as a parent, my husband has been very helpful. I have worked hard and I am always there for my children and I have built a good working relationship and trust so my boss is always willing to let me go to my children when they need me.
I also involve my children in my work, they know what I do and they understand when I cannot be there for them.
Why would one choose Law or advocacy as a profession?
It depends on your passion. Personally, I love helping people to achieve their potential and to grow them.
Growing up, I wanted to do Social Work and Social Administration, but my father asked me how I would help people if you could not fight for them.
He always said: “Do something that can help you fight for them” and that is how I ended up doing Law to help fight for the people. Even in banking here, I try to help people in terms of advice. So I deal a lot with stressed clients.
What are the challenges?
One of the challenges is being misunderstood because you know when you get to the top, some people distance themselves from you. Some friends might go because they think you have changed.
I am a sociable person; I like being with people. God has always guided me to overcome these challenges.
I have great support from my boss, board of directors and management team.
There was also challenge at UBA because it was a new bank so it was hard for us to prepare to take part of the market share.
What is the best career advice they have given you?
If you have a dream, don’t give up, go for it, seek God for guidance on how you can achieve that dream and trust him because each challenge you go through makes you a better person.
What advice do you have for girls who want to climb up the career ladder?
Do not fear but have a village of people around you as a support system. Learn how to communicate with people and communication is not just talking, it is about what you wear, how you speak to people and do not compromise on your values and integrity.