I left the corporate world, now thriving downtown

Friday March 12 2021
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Jackson Winner Mwiine, a former corporate employee turned downtown businessman, shares his career journey at his work station . PHOTO/EDGAR R. BATTE

By Edgar R. Batte

Take us through your career journey?
After graduation, like many people I was opened to the world of fending for myself. I was used to getting money for rent and upkeep but that was no more. I was on my own. I needed to live a decent life so I looked for a job and found one in an insurance company- ICEA. One day, while I talked to a client about insurance policies, he told me that he was not going to buy the policy since he had a running one with Jubilee Insurance but told me that he liked the way I presented myself. 

He asked me to send him my academic documents. That’s how I left ICEA and joined DHL where I worked for two years. The corporate world is so bearaucratic, one has to be so patient and the pay at the beginning. is very low.  You can hardly live on that. 

How much were you earning?
Shs500, 000 on which I had to cater for transport, rent, feeding and general upkeep. The amount of money was not enough. When I shared with young brother who works downtown Kampala [in the informal sector], he invited me to there and try another job opportunity. The first time I went downtown, I asked my employers for sick leave. I started trying the jobs there and they proved hard in the beginning. 

Later, I was assigned as a marketer in Mukono. It was rewarding so when I returned to my corporate job, I thought about my two options and later decided to resign and take on the downtown job. Within a few months, I managed to save close to Shs8m.  My brother took me around and introduced me to people he routinely deals with so I was able to build relationships with those customers. 
From the few customers I met, one would lead me to others. 
What lessons did you pick as you found your bearing in the new job environment?
I came to learn to respect people no matter their status or outlook. Downtown looks deceptive. You can never tell the person who will lead you to a person who will give you a good business deal. 

In your comparison, what are the big wins downtown compared to your career as an insurance salesperson?
Downtown exposed me to hands-on experiences and jobs. I felt my enthusiasm boosted because I needed to push hard unlike in the corporate life. Imagine on Saturdays and weekend, in the corporate world you feel good because you do not go to work but here, you feel that even on a Sunday you should come for work because you aspire to earn or at least meet someone with whom you can later to do business with.

What is name of the company you are affiliated to?
It is called ‘House of Locks’ which deals in locks and general hardware items. 
I am a salesperson because I love engaging with people in the market. It is more rewarding because it is an opportunity to get and exchange ideas on top of the commercial rewards. I have found good mentorship from Mr. Nsereko Michael.  I continue to learn from him.


What are your two cents to the corporate employee?
In the corporate world we always think we are at the top of everything but I will tell you that you have not seen anything my sister and brother.  When I was in the corporate world, I would come down here and feel like these people cannot tell me anything but the truth is that they are doing well and have vast experience. 

I invite the youth to come where I am now. There are many jobs and career opportunities down (here) and for someone who has gone to school, their knowledge will make a whole difference that is beneficial. 
Come with that little money and invest. On a good day, I get and sell items that can get me some good money. 
On average I can earn Shs150, 000. I have no regret for leaving the corporate job. 

Do you regret  your degree?
I do not but it calls me to think about the need to review the education system. 
It taught me how to deal with people and handle customers but there are more hands-on lessons I need to have picked. 
It did not prepare me to handle things practically.

What is on your wish list?
I only wish for stability in my country- Uganda. I also wish for young people out there to have more engagements with the people who are practical. 
Let them listen to motivational speakers but with some reservation.