Professionalism and integrity above all else

Keith Kalyegira

What you need to know:

  • From the CEO: Keith Kalyegira has been the CEO of Capital Markets Authority since 2013 and from his experience he advises that the key to career growth and progression is understanding that you are hired to be a problem solver and solution finder.

Paint us a picture of what it means to be a CEO

Being a CEO requires one to be an all-rounder or at the very least, able to appreciate the contribution of the different managerial sections and professionals they supervise. A CEO has to have the courage to make decisions, sometimes quickly, which requires the ability to think on your feet.

We have heard phrases like “it is lonely at the top”, how true is that statement?

As CEO, it is not easy to demonstrate vulnerability, and yet from time to time, you find yourself in a situation of need, which often cannot be shared easily with staff you supervise. The demands of a CEO’s time means they are not able to regularly compare notes with peers to share situational challenges and brainstorm on these, so that is why I think the term “lonely at the top” was coined.

How did you get to where you are in your career?

I always preferred to pursue a generalist approach to personal and professional growth, preferring to have working knowledge of several disciplines of management rather than specialise. I had the good fortune of working in the private sector in stocks management, finance, sales – as an economist in the public sector responsible for improving corporate governance, performance management and strategic planning.

What do you believe has helped you climb the corporate ladder?

I think it is hard work, preparation and the grace of God. We can never discount God’s favour in our individual progress, which is sometimes referred to as luck. It is important that we have visions of the future we would like to see and our contribution to that future.

What is the one thing that motivates you to keep going?

The reminder that we are here to make a difference, not simply to earn a living. I am continually reminded that I am as good as my last job and in particular leadership is an opportunity to express ourselves, test our limits and finally the knowledge that I am ultimately accountable to God as a steward of the resources He has given me the opportunity to manage.

How has your involvement in the various finance, administration and pension roles helped Uganda?

I believe my team and I have tried to provide a pragmatic view on what capital markets can and cannot do, and what needs to be emphasised by those who need capital, savings and are seeking to invest these savings. I have seen an improvement in the investment of retirement benefit scheme savings.

How have you maintained solid, honest relationships in your career journey?

I think the key is simply being authentic and continually seeking out like-minded people to share thoughts, ideas, fears and hopes in a safe way. We all need a high level of emotional intelligence to be able to drive conversations in a certain way through simply asking questions and listening attentively to responses. I believe this is a life-long skill we can never stop learning.

What career principles drive you?

Professional and personal integrity, above all else, clarity of purpose, courage, and continuous improvement in the method of delivering results, which sometimes involves changing course through frequent reversion to the ultimate goal I meant to achieve.

What has been the biggest disappointment in your career journey?

I cannot attribute it to one event. I wish I could have been more responsive to what they call gut feeling. Some decisions I have taken in feeling with my gut have not turned out well, so that has been a major lesson and I am learning.

What is that one mistake CEOs make that keep their businesses stagnant?

I am not running a business but I can only answer from my observations. I think one of the biggest mistakes many make is not maintaining the highest standard of professionalism in attaining and retaining staff.

The human resources is the most important competent of any organisation, so ensuring that leaders pay attention to this aspect of businesses is vital. Learning never stops, so we should never shy away from paying attention to personal growth; I am talking about learning in the areas of self-awareness, self-control and empathy.

Who do you look up to and why?

There are several and in no particular order, men such as Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere. They were extremely clear about their goals and had a deep understanding of what was important, which evokes unbelievable courage in the face of extreme circumstances.

How do you spend your time outside meetings, presentations and day-to-day work?

I like the outdoors, so I walk, run, swim, play golf and sometimes ride. I like to read books on history and occasionally lose myself in books on fiction based on true stories about the history of the Israelis. I think theirs is a fascinating story of perseverance.

Any advice to those aspiring to take up a career in finance?

I believe the key to career growth and progression is understanding that you are hired to be a problem solver and solution finder.

It is important that anyone starting out spends time determining their personal vision and pursuing it determinedly and a vision cannot be building a house and getting married.

A vision is being clear about the contribution and difference you would like to make in society with and through your skills, knowledge and personality, based on what truly concerns you about the society you live in.

Management hack

Performance management is perhaps the most vital aspect of human resources. Leaders of organisations and departments must invest in improving their competence in this area. It is not an event that occurs periodically, but one that should happen on a weekly basis.