Interview: Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC), is a State corporation established by the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation Act Cap.330 of the Laws of the Republic of Uganda. Ms Irene Muwanguzi, the managing director, spoke on how her leadership and innovation is building brand loyalty.
Give a brief background of Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC)
Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) started operations in the early 1900s. It became incorporated in 1992, turning into an autonomous body under the office of the President.
Before independence, UPPC was managed by expatriates until 1970 when Bossa Emmanuel became the first African government printer. He was followed by Sempala George William from 1975 to 1979, Lawrence Kasozi from 1979 to 1988 and David Muwaya from 1988 to 1992.
When the Government Printer became Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation in 1992, by an Act of Parliament, Cap 330, its leadership turned into managing director and a board. The first managing director was Mr Brian Birtle from 1992-1996. He was followed by Mr Peter Baker from 1996 to
1998, Ms Bakaawa Elizabeth from 1998 to 2012 and Levi Malinzi took over in an acting capacity for about a year. I then took over as a substantive managing director in 2014.
What services does UPPC offer?
- Print and publish all government legislation, documents and other legal instruments.
- Act as an in service school to train its own and other organisation’s apprentice printers within Uganda and East Africa.
- Act as a chief advisor to the government on all printing and publishing matters.
- Provide printing and publishing facilities and services to government ministries, departments, parastatals, private organisations and private individuals.
- Provide stationery such as envelops, desk calendars, letterheads visiting cards, file folders and other stationery for office use.
- Print and Publish education books, reports, manuals and magazines for general use.
- Produce posters and other forms of printed advertising material.
- Produce paper bags, paper boxes and other paper packing containers.
- Provide technical drawings and architectural plans.
- Publishing books, booklets or other publications which enhance the culture, welfare and unity of Uganda.
- Print both text and exercise books or any other books, magazines or other documents.
- Provide business and accounting stationery such as receipt forms, cash books, and ledger books.
- Undertake security printing works for all clients as well as undertaking any other activity that may be carried out by a printing and publishing institution.
Innovation is currently considered to be one of the contributors to the future growth of companies. What innovation initiatives have you put in place to ensure that UPPC stays afloat in business?
Currently, we are thinking and intentionally moving more into strategic partnerships in order to effectively deliver on our mandate. Thanks to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework that is now available for use by organizations such as UPPC.
With the current competition not only in Uganda but globally and the tight framework of legislation in which we operate, there is no way we can succeed without working in partnership with others. This can be in form of joint ventures or any other form available for delivering on results and profitability. We are open-minded and steadfast in seeking out all forms of support and joint efforts to enable us to stand out as a modern corporation.
How has innovation transformed your organization operations?
The corporation aspires to be run professionally in order to deliver customer-responsive products and services. We have undertaken an organisational review process as we prepare to handle more complex operations. This was one of the recommendations of the Inspectorate of Government while undertaking an investigation at the corporation in 2015.
The organizational review has revealed a lot that we need to put in place in order to position ourselves as a winning organization. We have embarked on a phased restructuring process as a way of implementing the organisational review report. We are already seeing the results of this exercise come alive. For instance, a new team of staff, who possess a combination of competencies, skills, experience and posture necessary to manage rigorous, dynamic processes, have recently been recruited into the management of the corporation.
We are excited to be nurturing and bringing on board a dynamic team of professionals that will be the change agents for the corporation towards its profitability. We want to ensure that our human resources and processes are readily aligned to our aspiration of a transformed and revamped corporation. UPPC is now sensitive to customers’ needs. We aspire to deliver our customers’ work on time. We are also mindful of the quality of the work we deliver.
The rate of technological advancement is increasing with time and has already created an impact on the printing industry. As the company managing director, what plans do you have in place to ensure that your printing services remain relevant in this era?
In our strategic planning, we are looking at going digital. We shall print flipbooks and other products along that line. We hope to use the latest technology, graphics designs, sophisticated pre-press printing and post-production equipment to offer our customers the best quality printing services.
Since we are the oldest printing facility in the country, spiralling for more than 100 years, we have a wealth of experience that is unrivalled by any other printers and publishers. We have over time evolved with technology.
Going forward, we have undertaken a machine audit to establish the actual status of our machines. Through the expertise of a consultant from United Nations Economic Commission on Africa (UNECA) and Heidelberg through Achilles, we have conducted a thorough analysis of where we stand with the state of our machines. This is going to help us make decisions on which machines to work with and which ones to dispose of so that we can acquire new ones.
In addition, a joint venture agreement between the government of Uganda and a consortium of Germany based companies; led by Veridos GmH to revamp UPPC’s operations was signed, by UPPC in the presence of H.E. President Yoweri Museveni at State House Entebbe. Through this joint venture, we expect to undertake our mandate more effectively especially in the area of security printing. We are striving to make it easy for our customers to access our products and services through online platforms, effective technologies, and quality customer care.
Technological advancement has led some positions to be irrelevant in companies and as a result, it will require companies to adjust some of the human resource policies to either let some people go or hire new ones in line with the new technology. How are you handling this situation?
At UPPC, we had to let some people go in the recent past so that we can be in tandem with technological advancement. As I said before, our machine audit revealed a lot in terms of new technology that is currently needed if we have to stay afloat. In doing so, we further learnt of the kind of skills set and staffing levels that we need as we embrace technology. This situation was confirmed by the organizational review exercise. We are, therefore, working hard to enhance performance, processes and market visibility through automation.
How has UPPC managed to be at the top despite stiff competition in the printing industry?
The secret is in our uniqueness. Knowing our niche has been key. We play a leading role in security printing and publishing. We are also the sole printer of the Uganda Gazette. This is a legal document that is acceptable in courts of law and seals ownership in cases of land titles, authenticates change of name of either companies or individuals, validates national election results affirms company’s trademarks and uniforms. It also acts as proof to rightful professional bodies as well as confirms rightful succession by publishing letters of administration.
Our long-term experience of more than a century years of security printing gives us a competitive advantage over our competitors. We are now working hard to regain the market share. Working closely with our customers has given us leverage. We understand what they exactly need.
How has your leadership contributed to having a sustainable organisation that has survived the storm?
I am a focused person and strategic thinker. When I come to an organisation, I usually bring with me my whole self; my mind, my heart, passion and a determination to succeed. This is coupled with my style and culture of transparency, respect, inclusiveness, reliability and integrity. These virtues have helped us make UPPC survive the most difficult times.
Our ability to constantly be in communication with important stakeholders has also helped us sustain our business as we manage organisational change and transformation.
I’m a great team player. I like facilitating a process that develops a strong team so that as a team leader, I can play a role in that team. Once you have a fully functioning team which is open and engaged, as a leader, you can sit back and observe “predictable miracles” happen through your team. But of course, like Partric Lincioni observes in his books , the process of developing the kind of team that functions effectively, takes time. Sometimes you might have to break it and re-break to achieve what you need,” - Ms Irene Muwanguzi, managing director UPPC.