Jenifer Musiime: I’m Passionate About Mentoring Young Women

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Like many women in the corporate world, Jenifer Musiime, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Sheraton Kampala Hotel has had to make some bold decisions in an environment dominated by men.

It is this courage and desire to better her life that has seen her rise from a humble background to a senior job at an international hotel like Sheraton. Jenifer’s success story is testament that women can make better managers. As we continue celebrating women’s day through this month, she shares her story in this interview.

Tell us about yourself.

I went to Buganda Road Primary School before relocating to Fort Portal after my father’s death where I sat for Primary Seven. I then joined Kyebambe Girls’ Secondary School in Fort Portal for my O’levels and Nabisunsa Girls’ Secondary School for my A’ levels. I joined Makerere University studying Social Work and Social Administration. I also studied Public Administration & Management for my Master’s Degree.

I have worked for Alarm Group, a local Hotel chain as a Personnel Manager before moving to Sheraton to work as Guest Relations Officer something my mother was not happy about because I was quitting a managerial job to come work as an officer. I also worked for Air Uganda as Head of Sales & Marketing but when it was closed, I rejoined Sheraton after I was called back.

My life turned around from the comfort of the city to a rural setting when my father was shot dead in 1982. It was a difficult transition and I must say that my early life shaped who I am today. I was raised by my mother together with my four siblings

What is your typical day like?

First I check my mail for the day, hold meetings with my colleagues in the Sales &Marketing department every day at 8:30am, then meetings on or off the premises,guests/ customer follow up till late. During the day I will check my mail on and off and handle whatever is required of me. I try not to work late though it’s hard sometimes.

How did you get where you are now?

First competence, passion and a positive mindset focused on excellence. Once you are passionate about excellence, nothing can pull you down.

What is the most romantic thing you have ever done for your partner?

Wow. I think my husband would answer that better. I might think what I did was romantic and he would think otherwise!!

What do you love and hate most about Uganda?

Love: The weather and hospitality. It rains torrentially for 20mins and the next hour it’s shining brightly. Additionally, a Ugandan will go out of his way to give you directions. Or even lead you to your location. Hate: Late coming, corruption, mediocrity. We tend to use the words this is Ugandan time or its okay even when it’s not. I hate that!

If you were to meet God, what would you ask him?

I used to say, I would ask why he took our father so early in our lives and widowed my mother at a very tender age, leaving her to fend for 5 little kids. But now I have been so humbled through life to understand that everything happens for a reason and for a purpose.

What defines a typical Ugandan?

Hospitable, friendly, slow paced, and un-aggressive. But that varies with where we come from in Uganda.

What do men not know about women?

Calling a woman fat is an esteem slayer

What would you like to be written on your tombstone?

She spoke with wisdom,and faithful instruction was on her tongue. …..she fought the good fight, she finished the race, and she kept the faith.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

It’s a secret.

Who is the biggest influence in your life and why?

Jesus Christ.  I find it thought-provoking to make decisions without asking Him first.

What’s your favorite story from your work life?

My work life is a testimony. I worked at this Airline as a consultant. Then one morning, my contract was terminated and was given 24 hours to disappear – literally that’s what I was told; only to be called back 4 months later, re-hired with a promotion. In a blink of an eye, I was a consultant, then jobless, then a head of department managing 33 people in 9 different countries. I am still humbled by that story.

What advice do you have for those who look up to you?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom and understanding.

What’s your favorite place to eat?

My home.

Tell us something people don’t know about you.

I am passionate about mentoring young women. I am always asking my husband which year we had our children when I am filling their bio data forms. I wish I was born 40. I literally grew up when I hit 40.

When was the last time you cried and why?

Don’t remember.

What was your dream job while growing up and why?

My dream job was being an air hostess. I used to see Sabena (now Brussels Airlines) crew in their uniforms and wish I was one of them mainly because their uniforms were beautiful and elegant and the girls looked smashing. I also wanted to travel a lot and see new places.

What else have you done professionally apart from the field you are in right now?

Head of Sales and Marketing in an Airline, and Personnel Manager of a Hotel, Sales Manager of a travel company.

Please tell us about your workplace.

Sheraton is part of a global brand called Starwood which has11 brands (Sheraton, St, Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin, Le Meridian, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels, FourPoints, Aloft and Element).  The culture affects your work ethics positively. It’s a very interesting and busy environment and you get to interact with different nationalities. Sheraton believes in training its associates and as such has given access to an online development tool that literally has very subject you would want to train.

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