Wednesday, February 28, 2024

How I got to lead Thomson Reuters team across 17 countries at age 33

Lenin Sembo Oyuga is the Oracle Corporation’s Director and Business Leader for the Telecommunications Industry in Africa.

In my life and career, having a family of my own and taking extreme ownership of that is my most remarkable milestone. In my family, I found my ‘why’ in life. Having a family, wife and son has been a big eye-opener on recalibrating my purpose and finding the balance. Never forget your ‘WHY in your journey.

Navigating through my career, one of my other remarkable moments was when I was privileged to head the business and team for Thomson Reuters across 17 countries in East Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands at the young age of 33. I also got to sit in the Africa leadership SLT.

I had been leading the public sector business across Africa when this leadership opportunity presented itself and I was selected. The significance of this was a deep understanding of the Africa market. More importantly, investing in people, and how this eventually translated to profit.

In my journey, the deliberate effort of being very intentional with every aspect of my career growth has been constant. It began with self-discovery. I had to understand who I am, my strengths, and spikes and barriers. I also had to get myself a tribe of mentors, who I refer to as my PBOD (Personal Board of Directors). I am a product of mentorship and guidance!

I also wrote every goal, every plan, and every ambition down. Writing it down is the first commitment one makes towards a goal. About ten years ago, I tried this model out; I decided to look at myself as a company. Every functioning company has a diverse board of directors.

I realized that I needed perspective, guidance, challenge, and growth. I needed to step into the arena and grow from my techie expertise to commercial leadership.

I am on a continuous learning and growth journey. As such, I think there is no magic secret to making it or progressing in any venture.  I firmly believe some basic principles cut across anyone working to make it in any field, experience, career, or business. Definition of making it may vary from person to person, and many variables can determine the goals you set and how you raise your bar.

The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do about it. Identify your goals – get to know yourself even as you consider following a career route or path. Be self-aware of your strengths as it’s a key area of personal improvement; always remember learning is a continuous process and progress measures over perfection.

Take extreme ownership and responsibility of your journey; it’s yours, after all. Don’t look from the sidelines; step in the arena, be in action! Always raise your standards as you strive to be better. Seek mentors where needed; you will always see further standing on the shoulders of giants even as you work to become one.

Brand yourself, network; build your self-worth in the process and be authentic! Lastly, you must put in the work!

I once bought some stock just because I had a feeling they would skyrocket and I would cash out. They did at some point, and I stayed put. Then they dipped, and I had to pick my losses. I learnt the essence of having an investment plan and sticking to it. I also learned that when it comes to investments, it is always prudent to seek expert advice on the dos and don’ts.

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Counting losses is also part of the journey. You cannot always win. However, a loss always presents tremendous opportunities for those willing to dust it off and learn. With finances, diversification is essential. Invest in what you know.

I always record my expenses. This helps me figure out and keep track of what I spend over time. There are many tools for this; I use the home budget app. With a clear idea of my spending, I organize the expenses into a workable budget, knowing the running ones and the ones I need to plan for.

The culture of saving is still a learning journey, and I am still getting better at it. My wife is my personal finance coach. We set savings goals over time and try to achieve them, and while at it, look for ways to cut our spending. Previously, I would just save but with no plan to accelerate and deepen my savings.

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