What you need to know:
- Every day there is something new to learn. Growth happens every day.
- So I don’t underestimate how much I can learn from anyone and anywhere.
Hadijah Nannyomo is a Tax Partner at Ernest and Young (EY) Kenya. Her work involves resolving the complexities associated with taxation for clients at EY. She also ensures Customs, Excise and International Trade services are executed and delivered across the East African region.
Previously, she has served EY clients in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Nigeria and Ghana. Ms Nannyomo holds a Master’s Degree in Economic Policy and Planning and a Bachelor’s Degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
She is also a Fellow of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) of UK and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU).
She shares her career path story with the Sunday Nation.
Tell us about your childhood and educational background.
I was born in Kampala at Mulago Hospital. Both my mother and father were teachers. I have 14 siblings (seven brothers and seven sisters). I grew up in the city at a place called Old Kampala. My father was the headmaster of the now renowned Aga Khan Primary School for some years until he was transferred to the Ministry of Education.
My fondest childhood memories are of a home that always full of people. I attended my early primary school days at the same school where my father taught until he got transferred. I then joined Kampala Parents School where I completed my primary school education. Thereafter I went to Nabisunsa Girls School for my six years of secondary school education. From there I proceeded to Makerere University for a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics.
Share with us your career journey.
Immediately after graduation, I was among 40 graduates who were recruited at the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). I stayed at URA for seven years after which I joined Ernst & Young Uganda, where I have worked to this day.
At URA I was attached to the Customs and Excise department and deployment to the border where I was responsible for participating in clearance of goods that have been imported into the country. I handled physical verification of the goods, customs valuation, customs warehousing and bonds, to mention but a few.
I was later transferred to Kampala office in the warehousing department then the Portbell station and then arrears and objections division until I left the authority.
I joined EY as a senior tax advisor and was tasked with undertaking fieldwork under supervision for client assignments on tax matters - tax compliance, VAT refund audits, tax advisory, customs consultancy to mention but a few.
I rose through the ranks and made a manager charged with owning and managing a portfolio of clients with a specific target to hit. I later became a Senior Manager, Associate Director, Executive Director and then currently a Partner.
Besides Uganda, I worked under a placement arrangement in South Africa and Kenya. I also took on a role to oversee some deliverables within Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan.
I’m currently a Partner in the Tax department at EY based in Nairobi. My role is to guide teams to deliver to our diverse clients on different tax assignments. I participate in onboarding clients, guide the teams during execution, review the work deliverables and sign them off.
I also participate in the business strategies to enable us succeed as a business. I currently ensure Customs, Excise and International Trade services are executed and delivered across the East African region.
What has been the highlight of your career journey?
When I was at the Uganda Revenue Authority I learnt a lot having worked in different areas and different locations. I had proved myself in several areas, including the need to change from the customs department to the statistics, research and planning department where I could practice my statistics and Masters in economics. When there was restructuring exercise in the URA, I applied for positions in that department and I was not successful. I was also not considered successful for other posts (around 1500 positions available in the whole authority).
I can never forget how I felt so unworthy the first day I learnt I was not reappointed. But I promised myself to prove that I’m worthy of other roles in other organisations outside URA. I was right about that seeing I joined EY (through competitive interviews where I emerged the best) and I have grown till now.
The other memorable point in my career is in EY when I was nominated locally as a person with a story to tell to the whole of EY Global from my earlier day to day behaviours during a global competition which was then called the Chairman’s Values Awards (for staff membered who lived the EY values).
I went on to be a winner from the local evaluations to East Africa to Africa to the regional and lastly became a global winner/finalist with eight other EY colleagues from across the world. I was the only Africa representative. To this day, this has been the most memorable moment of my life as I was globally recognized, got to travel the world and shared my story in different forums.
What has been a key driver of your career growth?
Every day there is something new to learn. Growth happens every day. So I don’t underestimate how much I can learn from anyone and anywhere. My mantra is learning, unlearning and relearning. What I learnt some years back may not necessarily be as applicable now so I need to unlearn or relearn it and then learn new things.
I'm very curious to learn new things and keep up with trends in the economy. Technology and disruption is on the rise, meaning I need to keep myself relevant in this changing environment.
Who you care to mention a few people who influenced your career path?
When I joined EY in Uganda, I was working directly under a senior manager who later became the Uganda Tax Partner. This individual was very instrumental in ensuring that my potential is pushed and that I get all the possible opportunities to grow. He had a lot of belief in me even when personally I felt I wasn’t ready to be a manager since at the time I was still completing my ACCAs, which are quite demanding. I have since grown and achieved my full potential. The leadership within EY as an organisation has been instrumental too in making all the necessary approvals for me to achieve the growth I have attained to date.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in life?
My father passed away when I was barely 15 years old and I started living with relatives to enable me continue with school closer to the city. My younger siblings also stayed with relatives. I had always prayed to Allah to enable me complete my studies and take care of them in whichever way. I was able to accomplish this for some of them as well as for my mum who became a widow before she turned 45. Most of the siblings have since grown and have their own families. My mother is now a retiree. Seeing other mentees and colleagues I have guided along the way growing in their own way and taking off also gives me great pride.
Key decisions you might have taken along your career journey?
The decision to relocate to other countries for my career growth. This is a difficult decision to make for many of us from a social, emotional and financial perspective. The decision to keep learning to better myself as an individual as well as a leader.
What would you advise the youth in Kenya today?
They should not to rush their careers but give themselves time to grow. Allow yourselves to make mistakes, fall and get up. Keep learning and do not compare yourself to others but have healthy competition.
Your future plans?
I had a dream to be an academician which I have not yet achieved. I plan to retire in academia, undertake my PhD and give back to society by sharing my diverse knowledge. I would also wish to be a philanthropist, especially in the area of education and the girl child.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy keeping fit by exercising, solving puzzles/games, watching TV, listening to podcasts on leadership and socializing with friends.
If there was one thing you could change about your past, what would it be?
Live my youthful years to the fullest and allow myself to openly do the right and wrong things and get back on track. There is a time for everything in life and there are certain things which if one missed at a certain stage of their life, catching up with them when much older is not as enjoyable.