July 22, 2024

‘The world is brutal, you must put in the work’

Irene Nayera holds the position of organizational and human resources director at Hima Cement, where she also serves as the sustainability champion. We recently had a discussion with her to explore her insights on the dynamics and trends in the job market and how human resource management professionals can navigate through them.

Nayera’s educational journey began at Lake Victoria Primary School in Entebbe, Wakiso District. She completed her Senior Four exams at Stella Maris College Nsube in Mukono and her Senior Six exams at Bweranyangi Girls’ Secondary School in Bushenyi District. She pursued a diploma in Human Resource Management at Makerere University Business School (Mubs) and later obtained a bachelor’s degree in the same field. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in Business Psychology at Makerere University Business School (Mubs).

Her professional career commenced even before her graduation, as she worked at a human resource consulting firm for eight months in 2009. Subsequently, she joined Nile Breweries Limited as a graduate trainee in the HR department and steadily progressed through various roles within the function. Later, she transitioned to the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) as a talent development and organizational development manager, followed by her tenure at Lafarge – Hima cement as a human resources manager – corporate. Eventually, she was promoted to the role of organizational human resources and sustainability director.

Reflecting on her leadership experience, Nayera acknowledges the support of her country chief executive officer, who has been instrumental in her professional journey. However, she highlights the challenges inherent in the role, such as misconceptions about the HR function’s significance, which she combats by demonstrating the department’s contribution to the organization’s success through various programs.

When asked about the qualities that have shaped her leadership, Nayera emphasizes the importance of accepting responsibility and embracing challenges. She is known for her proactive approach, willingness to undertake additional responsibilities, and dedication to seeing tasks through completion.

Regarding women’s success in leadership, Nayera underscores the significance of resilience, hard work, and honesty. She advises against adopting a victim mentality and emphasizes the need for women to actively engage in their career development, demonstrating competence and determination.

However, Nayera also recognizes common mistakes that women make in leadership positions, such as expecting sympathy based on gender and hesitating to pursue opportunities unless fully prepared. She encourages women to embrace challenges and seize opportunities for growth, even when not feeling completely ready.

At Hima Cement, Nayera affirms the organization’s commitment to gender inclusivity through initiatives like Women on Wheels (WOW), which promotes the recruitment of qualified women in traditionally male-dominated roles. The company also upholds equal pay policies regardless of gender.

From an HR perspective, Nayera observes challenges faced by women in balancing personal and career responsibilities and emphasizes the importance of resilience and perseverance. She advises women to focus on delivering results and overcoming obstacles in the workplace.

Discussing current trends in HR, Nayera highlights the growing importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the adoption of performance management systems that facilitate continuous feedback. She also emphasizes the significance of creating meaningful employee experiences through innovative engagement and well-being initiatives.

In closing, Nayera advises aspiring female leaders to excel in their current roles, prioritize self-development, and maintain faith and trust in their abilities and in a higher power.

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