By Dr. Martin M. Lwanga

At exactly 5:30 am the alarm clock besides Ms Sarah Mayanja goes off prompting her out of bed. Ms Mayanja has to rise early because of the nature of her family situation and new position as branch Manager of Equatorial Bank Ltd.

Her husband of 5 years, Sam, works up – country in Gulu, Northern Uganda, for a relief and development NGO and visits over the weekend. This means during his absence Ms Mayanja has to drop their 5-year-old son, Alvin, at Aunt Molly’s kindergarten. Their three- year old, Subi, is left in the care of a maid.

Quickly, with the help of her maid, she sees that Alvin is dressed and readied for school. They sit down to breakfast by 6:30 and by 7:00 am there are both out of the driveway in a jet- blue Toyota Corsa while listening to their favourite morning show on 104.1 Power FM.

After dropping Alvin at school, Sarah heads to the Acacia branch of Equatorial Bank and drops in by her normal time of 8 a.m. The first thing she does once in her office is to look at her diary and plot a to – do list.  She always purposes to get through her in- tray before 9 a.m and then go through the day’s errand.

Sarah’s number-one prior­ity is customer service-keeping current customers satisfied and signing up new ones. Privatisation has intensified competition in the banking sector.  No longer are the days of sitting back and waiting for corporate customers; the modern banker has to go out scouting for new customers, which is part of Sarah’s job.

To bring in new customers, she tries to make visits each day to potential business clients. Unless she finds the time for such visits, she is unlikely to meet her target of expanding the branch’s business-customer base. Her immediate boss, Mr. Fred Nsereko, the General Manager of Retail banking gave her a target of bringing in 50 new clients with a portfolio worth over $ 2 million each this year. She has already scheduled two important appointments today. One visit will be to Fang Fang restaurant whose proprietor wants to expand her lucrative business.

Another target is lawyers. She has already sent letters to the Uganda Law Society President, Mr. Shafiq Nkuruziza, trying to interest them in a special type of account that lets lawyers purchase Mercedes Benzes on credit. She hopes to find time to visit the Law society offices before Lunchtime, as she has to pick up Alvin from school.

Sarah has also a personnel problem to handle in the day. A competitor bank recently recruited one of her assistant managers, Yvonne Nambi, and she has to talk to Human Resource to find her a suitable replacement.  Sarah is happy that her people are competitive but she knows that the bank is weak in succession planning and hopes the Human Resource department devises a way to bridge the effect of these departures.

Sarah has also another personnel problem to handle. Lately, she has observed that Customer Relationship Manager, Musa Byamugisha, seems to be undermining her suggestions. She knows that Musa, who she hears is a relation to a certain Board member, had thought that the promotion would go to him yet in the end it was offered to her. She wonders also if Musa is ignoring her because she is a female and quiet younger than him. But Sarah knows that she was only promoted because of her proven track record. She decides she has to talk to Musa on the issue of insubordination late in the afternoon.

Sarah reviews her in-tray. There is a Memo containing new procedures she is to initiate at the branch, as well as information about new promotions (discounts on traveller’s checks and incentives to open checking ac­counts) that must be implemented. She then opens her Local Area Network mail system. There over 30 mails but she focuses on those addressed to her and near her concern. The rest she can catch up on later.

As she is going through her mail, a credit assistant knocks on the door and enters. Sarah keeps an open door and staff can access her anytime. The credit assistant has a report showing clients with rejected debits, indicat­ing insufficient funds. On the basis of a customer’s account history, Sarah must decide whether to cover a check or let it bounce.

Since this is a Monday, Sarah holds staff meetings at 9 a.m., to review the bank’s performance last week and plans for the week.  The meeting with her senior managers lasts less than an hour, as a rule for there is so much to do in the day.

During the peak time in the middle of the day, Sarah does what she calls Management by Walking Around (MBWA)- pitch­ing in and helping her staff whenever needed. She might review loan applications, talk with customers, or handle special prob­lems, such as the breakdown of an automated teller machine. If cus­tomer lines get particularly long, she works at a teller window. She must also sometimes deal with irate cus­tomers, who may be upset because lines are long or a mistake has been made.

Still, as much as possible, she likes to leave the operations of the branch to her assistant managers. Otherwise, she might get caught up in day-to-day problems and lose sight of her, main task-getting more customers for the bank and meeting her targets. Besides, she also feels the best way to help people grow in confidence is by letting them grow in their jobs.

At 3 p.m. the Bank closes. Sarah then sees that all paper records of the day’s transactions are ready to be picked up by courier at 4:30 for transfer to the regional office. At about 5:00 pm she heads out to attend an evening post- graduate course in Management at Uganda Management Institute. This is part of her goal to improve herself. It is not always possible to leave the bank and head to school at that time but she knows if she is to advance further in her career she has to acquire the right papers. It is a sacrifice she is happy to pay and sometimes she has to return to office after school to finish up on her daily tasks.


  1. What skills do you see in Sarah as a competent Manager
  2. Identify the planning, organiz­ing, leading, and controlling functions performed by Sarah
  3. Considering technical, human, and conceptual skills what does Sarah need the most to be effective as a Manager

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