By Mike Ssegawa
The world is run by people. Organizations are made by people. Great companies are built by people.
All those are truism to remind us how important employees are to organizations, but so often we forget and value other things like technology, equipment or money ahead of them.
This is a story Milton Owor tells better than everyone.
For almost 25 years, he has been in the field of human resource management at different levels of some of the world’s biggest multinationals.
Listening to him, you realize that what makes the difference on the planet with good or evil, are good or evil people. It leaves you one option that if you want good to blossom in society, you need to take care of its people. So, it is the same thing with companies, you want your company to flourish, ensure its employees are likewise flourishing. And here, is Owor, to tell you that flourishing doesn’t make the pay check. But, it is how you deal with employees individually to ensure they understand that meeting the company’s objectives will also make them meet their own. And for HR to facilitate that process which fosters success for company and each employee.
Your employees are everything
“When businesses are struggling to maintain performance, look at your people,” says Owor, a results oriented and self driven professional with several years of international work experience with leading multinational companies including British American Tobacco, Royal Dutch Shell, and General Electric Company (GE).
Owor testifies that he knows for sure, and that is why he is into private consulting, that if Uganda’s companies are to turn in good results, a lot has to be done with people who work for those organisations. It is important to keep them engaged and in sync.
It remains a fact that human resource development is the biggest task of every generation’s leader, elders and those tasked with the job of nurturing people to fit well into the community, and human society including working places.
So, some people have done the job of personnel development out of responsibility while some are professionals helping organizations grow.
Owor Milton is one of the professionals. However, he is one person that can make you fall in love with a human resource career.
A soft spoken but firm gentleman Owor, has bagged 25 years in HR practice. And now, he is willing to share his knowledge through his human resource consulting company, Miphad Business and Human Resources consulting company.
The company among other things; provides consulting services in the area of HR and business performance.
“We operate in Uganda and Kenya,” says Owor, a culturally adaptable team player who has worked across Africa, in Europe, Asia and the US over the years.
“I am motivated by challenge and achievement,” he tells me as we meet in Kampala recently.
During the one hour conversation, Owor comes out as an experienced captain in stewarding strategic human resources, thought leadership and business partnership.
Here is a man who joined BAT as a trainee in 1991. He was sent to Jinja where the company ran a factory. He was later posted to Kampala as human resource manager. His posting to Kampala lit his star, as he was easily spotted and recommended to join the regional office in Nairobi as Training and Development manager. That was in 1997, only six years since he joined BAT as a trainee. It was also his first expatriate job.
Owor would three years later be returned to Kampala as HR director. That was in 2000. The following year, he returned to Nairobi as HR director for Eastern Africa, then, HR Eastern and Southern Africa. He had given the company 10 years of his life.
Owor didn’t stop in the familiar region, but he crossed to West Africa, where he equally shared his experiences and helped develop people.
He was based in Dakah Senegal, where Owor says he found some of the most honest people on the continent.
From Dakar, he oversaw the HR docket at the level of director for West and Central Africa.
Owor’s experience at BAT enabled him work with the entire sub Saharan Africa and he can tell you his experiences with various countries. I trapped him to tell more about his impressions on people.
“The mistake we make always is to treat people the same way,” he says why he cannot be boxed in one place and why he could replace that success anywhere. But anywhere, he would tell me that he found an average Nigeria aggressive, Ghanaians quite professional, Kenyans have the can do spirit and Ugandans humble and respectful.
Seeking new challenges
From BAT, he sought new challenges.
He got it with Shell in 2007.
With Shell, he returned to East Africa, and was based in Nairobi from where he oversaw Shell operations in Anglophone Africa. It is here he was part of Shell’s transfer to Vivo Energy. He was with Shell for seven good years before he was signed by General Electric, an American conglomerate, as HR director Africa.
The man who graduated from Makerere University in 1991 has therefore played at the top of the league. Even by training; for he attained his Masters in Business Administration specialising in strategic human resource management and attended the prestigious INSEAD, one of the top business schools in the world, if not the best.
And yes, he talks of assisting management and boards to understand human resource challenges today and in the future as well as helping them deliver business results through increased employee engagement.
“With a deep understanding of the Africa talent terrain, my core competencies are in Strategic People Leadership, Talent Management, Managing Organisational Change, Leadership Development, Performance Management, and Compensation,” says Owor.
If you involve employees in solving company issues, they come up with all sorts of creative solutions to redress that. We got everybody involved as opposed to sitting there and waiting for senior managers to do so.
And when I asked him what he plans to do with his company he says, “Personal high performance culture is what we are doing.”