PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK: Wafula Luasi Nabutola - Daily Nation

He trains on leadership, management and effective communication

Friday July 6 2018

Wafula Nabutola during an interview at Nation Centre, Nairobi, on June 22, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

Wafula Nabutola during an interview at Nation Centre, Nairobi, on June 22, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO 

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Wafula Luasi Nabutola is founder and Consultant-in-chief of MyRita Consultants Limited; offering leadership and management training, advisory and research services. He is currently an associate professor, youth mentor and a lecturer; spending most of his time training and researching on leadership and management.

He sits at various boards among them the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) as the Security Sector board director and as Maji na Ufanisi board member.

He was the third Nairobi Central Business District Association (NCBDA) chairman from 2005 to 2008, and the first African to sit in the board of the Denmark-based International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) in 2009. FIG advises governments, especially in developing countries on real estate and infrastructure development.

Between 2015 to 2017 he was the Sub Saharan regional director of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (RICS).

A 1980 University of Nairobi Land Economy graduate, Nabutola has a Master of Science in Construction Management from the University of Reading, UK.

He has attended trainings at various institutions such as the University of Cape Town, Portsmouth University, Renmin University of China, East and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI), Arusha, Tanzania and Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.


You have won many hats during your lifetime. What made you settle on leadership and management training?

It’s because of what I have seen. One of our problems in leadership and management is lack of effective communication between top administrators, managers, their subordinate colleagues and the public. This presents leadership and management gaps at public and private sectors. With my experience, I felt that I was not truthful to my calling if I did not become part of the solution. I seek to inculcate these changes through training institutions.


Give us an example of leadership failure that you experienced?

It’s during late 90s and early 2000 when Nairobi was experiencing a host of problems generated from bad governance. Gun-toting criminals and street robbery were common, making daily operations a risky affair for ordinary people and the business community. This diminished investor confidence and affected the city’s reputation. More problems included water, solid waste and sanitation, a pre-emptive administration, shouting corruption and a general managerial inefficiency.


What did you do to help resolve the problems?

With some city fathers we formed the NCBDA to pressure the government and then Nairobi City Council to address the problems. As the third chairman of NCBDA after Philip Kisia and Charles Kahura, we brought all stakeholders together to influence policies being made at the national government and the local authority (City Hall). We put pressure on those concerned to rise to the occasion and stop Nairobi from deteriorating further.


Today, you are a trainer of visionary leadership and management. Does that make you feel accountable for change in any way?

Oh yes! The change that I would want to see out there begins with me as a trainer. As they say, garbage in is garbage out. I am making every effort not to be an inconvenience to my expectations.


Which are some of the places where you conduct training?

I lecture on institutional management is at the Kenya School of Government. My basket of trainees includes senior managers and administrators in public and private sector, trainers-of-trainers and junior professionals.

As an associate professor, I also visit the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Technical University of Kenya among other private and public institutions.


Is there a contrast between youthful employees’ expectations and management leadership?

Yes, there is. Generally, younger employees feel that their bosses are more keen on hitting the targets than addressing challenges hindering them from achieving set goals within their potential. Institutions are missing out as their workers mainly struggle to meet business targets. Meanwhile lack of dialogue leaves problems unresolved, good ideas dying at infancy, and staff productivity going down.


What is your advice on this?

I tell my trainees who are in senior positions that a leader must think critically and device ways of resolving issues arising within one’s jurisdiction and responsibility.


At university you meet young, enthusiastic students looking into the future fondly. How differently do they respond to leadership, governance and management matters?

They want leaders who will address their issues and give assurance that, what is being done is for their future to be better. Most of them had parents sacrificing to have them at college or university. Their main concern is unemployment once they’ve completed school.


And what have you been advising them?

They should work hard in their studies first, and then with good grades strive to be that change they are missing to see as their own CEO's, employers, entrepreneurs and drivers of the economy; not only as employees.


You have served in several local and international policy-making bodies. What lesson do you have?

Kenya and indeed Africa can benefit from the experiences of developed countries. We can learn how the overcame the challenges that they faced as they developed.


What would you be if re-invented?

I want to set up a horticulture and a piggery demonstration farm. I will be selling pigs to my neighbours and the community.


What people do you find difficult to put up with?

Self-centred, arrogant and conceited.


And hobbies…

I like gentle African Rhumba, playing basketball at Parklands Sports Club, walking, visiting sceneries and occasionally playing golf.


Which places in the world would you never tire of visiting?

The Kerio Valley. It reminds me that God has given Kenya the best physical features. Sadly, it suffers insecurity due to irresponsible politicking. Others are Israel’s Eilat, Vietnam’s Halong Bay, Thailand’s Ko Tarutao Island, and King Solomon's Mines.


Which book have you read recently?

Wilbur Smith's A Time to Die. I was keen to find out if it would give me the same feel as in his other books, which I read in high school. It made me feel young.


Any professional affiliations?

I am a member of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya, Institute of Economic Affairs of Kenya and Rotary Club of Muthaiga.