Employers should put workers at the heart of their strategies - Umunyana

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Denise Umunyana

Denise Umunyana saw an opportunity and went right for it; with enough experience and willpower, she ventured into a fairly untapped field, human resource. With an MBA in Human Resource Management, the 36-year-old co-started Right Seat Ltd, a management company that supports organisations by helping them maximise their business performance through strategic human resource management. Umunyana had a chat with Women Today’s Donah Mbabazi about her line of work.

Why human resource management?

Human resource is what I really love doing. I had been in the field for 10 years so it is what I do best.

What inspired you to quit employment and venture into business?

I was pushed into my purpose, I had always dreamed of owning a consultancy firm; what I didn’t know was that it would happen soon. The strongest urge to quit employment came to me in 2014. I called a couple of colleagues and told them about ‘Right Seat’ and one of them was ready for the journey, so we partnered.

We registered ‘Right Seat’ in June 2015 while my partner and I were both still employed. We knew we wanted to join the entrepreneurship world but the fear of not having a solid salary still prevailed. In December 2015, Airtel Rwanda (where I was working at the time) went through restructuring and my position was made obsolete. I took that as a sign from God.

Effective January 2016, I became fully self-employed. I’ve never looked back and hopefully never will.

What does ‘Right Seat’ do exactly?

We are an employment services platform that was created with a mission to support organisations in getting their people strategy right and ultimately reach their strategic goals. We further connect professionals to their matching interests across all industries.

Would you say human resource is kind of a tough process for companies in Rwanda? If so, why?

It is not really tough but it becomes complicated when companies do not put people (their most important assets) at the heart of their strategies.

What is the one thing people should know about human resource in any organisation?

Human resource is the heart of the organisation.

Any challenges you have met so far in this business?

Not so many people understand the type of business we are in, while others do not see the need to pay for the services; they think they can do it themselves.

What do you think are the other untapped business opportunities women can go for?

Women can venture in this area of human resource. There are still opportunities there. You are welcome.

How would you describe your business journey so far?

The journey has been an amazing learning opportunity as well as a tough one. It’s one thing to be good HR practitioners and it’s another being able to do business. I would say the journey so far has exceeded our expectations. Patience pays!

What are your aspirations as an entrepreneur?

It’s seeing ‘Right Seat’ as a self-sustainable company providing employment, contributing to national capacity development and venturing into other businesses.

What would you say is the best part of being an entrepreneur? Would you recommend one to join the field?

The best part of being an entrepreneur is one; being free and flexible. Two is being able, or almost forced, to continuously think of new ways to do things. Rwanda is moving too fast and one can’t afford to sleep on the job.

I would totally recommend any one to join the field; they will be surprised how much people are willing to support them! Just make sure you know your product and you are passionate about it. And be professional.

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