Passion will take you places other things cannot – Obiota

James Obita is the general manager at Sambiya River Lodge

What you need to know:

Leadership: James Obita is the general manager at Sambiya River Lodge found in Murchison Falls National Park.  With his accounting degree from Makerere University Business School, Obita has served at managerial level in several top hospitality facilities.

How did you get where you are today?

Hard work and believing in myself, but most importantly loving what I do and having the right attitude towards every situation. My personality has also helped me fit well in the hospitality industry.

What does your job entail?

The biggest part of my job is to make sure that everyone who comes to the hotel leaves satisfied with the services and that calls for proper planning, coordination, and mobilisation. And now that every lodge is embracing sustainable tourism, one of my key tasks is to liaise with the surrounding communities to create opportunities related to the operations of the hotel to benefit them.

What kind of leader are you?

I am the kind that likes to delegate work to my team. When necessary I participate to encourage my team perform their duties well.

How do you get the best out of those you supervise?

I give direct and clear duties to them.  We also agree on timelines and then provide them with the necessary tools and equipment they need to do their work. I also encourage them to take pride in their work.

How do you do self-assessment?

I always make a work plan/schedule for myself and for my team as well. This makes it easy for me to see how much has been achieved, what is pending and what needs to be done to accomplish all our goals.

What is your weakness as leader?

Like many other leaders, sometimes I try to please the people under my supervision. 

Where do you feel you would do better as a manager?

I still have a lot to learn in this Industry. For now, I aspire to lead a chain of hotels. That is the level of management I would like to get into.

Who is that one individual you are grateful to have met in your life so far, and why?

I crossed paths with entrepreneur and managing director of  Great Lakes Safaris Limited, Amos Wekesa in 2013 and a lot changed for me; my career, life choices and destiny.  He gave me all the opportunities I needed to grow and learn in the new path he created. He inspired me enough to have the confidence to work with many high-profile establishments in the country.

What fascinates you about destination Uganda?

There is no country as beautiful as Uganda; the cultural diversities, our food, beautiful people and then the flora and fauna are unmatched.  A destination like this is everything a traveller needs to experience.

When not working, what occupies your time?

I love spending time with my family. I read and take time to learn new skills. I am currently learning how to play a guitar.

Obita with his former boss Amos Wekesa, whom he says changed the course of his life and career choices. PHOTO/courtesy

What would you have done better from what you know now?

The young me was inexperienced and had a lot of self-doubt so with the confidence I have about my abilities now, that young man would be close to putting their mark on the industry as  Wekesa has done.

What experience do you give clients at your hotel to make their stay memorable?

To me every part of the service is an experience, and this helps us make the most out of someone’s stay with us. Guest experience starts from their arrival (how you welcome them, check them in and make them feel), dining should be an experience (in the bush, under the trees, along the banks of the river etc). You should be able to experience sleeping in a room with no tiles, open showers etc. So, I try not to be static in service provision and these options make every bit of someone’s stay memorable.

Career journey

• Started work at Simba Safari Camp as a Lodge Accountant.

• In 2015, headed the accounts team at Budongo Eco Lodge.

• In 2016 returned to Simba Safari Camp and Elephant Plains Lodge.

• Had spells at Primate Lodge Kibaale

• In 2020 did management consultancy with Kikorongo Safari Lodge.

• In 2021 joined Sambiya River Lodge as general lodge manager.

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