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Be open to learn new other skills on the job

It dawned on me that I was unnecessarily allowing work that can be done by others to pile up in my in-tray. And so, I decided to do something about it. Fix the problem of “I don’t know accounts” and teach all our staff members bookkeeping, so that each does the bookkeeping for the transactions that they handle. A great call it has turned out to be. Not only am I spreading the work, so to speak, but I have made our staff happy for they are learning a valuable life skill.

Our Logistician – Mr. Abdul Owor and our Personal Assistant to the Managing Director – Mrs. Catherine Itipt Odyang, here sorting and coding vouchers for the transactions that they made payments.

How so fascinating it is for me to be using skills and knowledge that I learned way back in 1992, when I was fresh out of university. My former boss, turned mentor, Mr. Stan Burkey, took a chance on me and hired me off the plane, even before our graduation ceremony was held for my first degree, a Bachelors of Art in Communication Studies from Queen Margaret College (now turned in Queen Margaret University.

One of my responsibilities as the Administrative Assistant for the Change Agent Training (CAT) Programme under Quaker Service Norway was to do bookkeeping. All members of staff had a bookkeeping role – we all had to do accountability for the finances that we each handled. I did not know anything about bookkeeping. I learnt it all on the job.

Yes, Mr. Burkey patiently mentored me and taught me how to do double-entry bookkeeping. And by the time he retired and I took over from him as the boss lady – I was a guru. Yes, I did well and was promoted to Administrative Secretary (manager); and then eventually became the Executive Secretary (Director), who took over the reigns from Mr. Burkey.

By the time Mr. Burkey handed over to me, unlike most executives of nonprofit organisations that I know, I understood financial accounting – bookkeeping, generating financial reports, understanding financial reports, interpreting financial reports, using financial reports for decision making, finding errors in financial records, doing auditing, etc.

I continue to have the privilege of doing for others that which Mr. Burkey did for me. It is my hope that I am also doing a good job and that those that I have mentored over the years and those that I continue to mentor will also down the years do the same for another. What a legacy!

The author of this post, our Managing Direcotr Ms. Norah Owaraga, in 1992 when she was working for Quaker Service Norway, under the leadership of Mr. Stan Burkey.

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