eMi: one week in

(Posted by Laurence)

20160425 First day at work

My office, with a view over MAF’s airfield

Before we left the UK a common question that people asked me was “what projects will you be working on?”, or “what projects is eMi doing in Uganda?”.  Now that I’m ‘on the ground’, I’m going to try and answer these questions more fully: starting with my role.

The CM team

I am working within a 9-strong Construction Management (CM) team, currently made up of five American/British staff, three Ugandan staff and a Ugandan intern.  The team are variously employed, either running construction sites or providing technical oversight and managing construction contracts for our partner organisations.  Generally speaking, the former role is filled by Ugandan staff and the latter by ex-pat staff.

My role

As a new (and relatively junior) member of the CM team I won’t immediately be managing a whole project, and so my workload for the next few months may vary.  For the time being, I am taking over some internal work at the eMi office: an area within the building is being turned into a training room that will be used for, among other things, surveying training courses offered to Ugandan university students.  I have been asked to oversee the contractors who are doing this work and, while this is a very small project, it will be a good way to get used to working with local contractors while also learning how eMi tracks materials and finance on their projects.

Workshop

The eMi workshop at Kajjansi Airfield

In addition to this, I will be managing eMi’s workshop: next to the office at Kajjansi Airfield there is a basic workshop area that is used to fabricate wood and metal components for construction projects (e.g. roof trusses, doors, fitted furniture).  The workshop is being used by sub-contracted tradesmen, but as they are not eMi staff they often don’t have a sense of ownership or an incentive to manage the workshop well.  My first job is to bring a sense of order to the workshop area, and then put in place some working practices that will ensure that tools are looked after, materials are fully accounted for, and that the workshop remains a safe working environment.  Funnily enough, this is remarkably similar to a big part of my job as a Troop Commander with the Royal Engineers, where I was responsible for the management of an equipment store that was used by soldiers who also frequently had no incentive to look after the equipment properly!

So that’s my job so far (one week in!); more to come on both my role and the wider work of the CM team…

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