PASSIONATE. Dorothy Nabunjo is the kind of person who loves coming up with original ideas and putting them into practice. A teacher by training Nabunjo, guided by her passion ended up in a relatively unconventional industry, as a public relations manager, writes Edgar R. Batte.
Dorothy Nabunjo works as chief executive officer (CEO) of Karizm business, a talent, events management and Public Relations (PR) company. At Mackay College Nabunjo got the idea of organising the school’s first beauty pageant. Because she did not have permission and did not hope to get it from the school authorities, she limited the pageant to her dormitory.
The beauty pageant was a huge success attracting many participants. The experience planted a seed which became reality in 2013. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Adult and Community Education, at Kyambogo University, Nabunjo went through a succession of jobs before joining AAR, as a receptionist and was later promoted to a clinic administrator. It was at AAR, that she dared put her ideas into practice and they came off beautifully.
“Working with a team, I was able to organise the 30-year blood donation drive, which attracted media, staff got involved in the event, secured a good location at Garden City which enabled AAR to fully brand the entire shopping mall with exclusive mentions throughout the day. I successfully planned and organised 12 medical booths with seven months. I also initiated a seven-month blood donation campaign which created awareness about AAR Healthcare and visibility for the Acacia clinic and this trend was picked up by other centres,” she shares.
She however, notes that there was a tendency for people taking her ideas and appropriating them as theirs. So she instead started sharing her ideas with her mother only.
“I think my mother was probably tired of hearing all these brilliant ideas of mine that never came to anything. One day, she bought me a book titled Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren and I devoured it,” Nabunjo shares. She adds that she took Warren’s challenge and found she was not where she should have been. And she was not doing what she was supposed to be doing. So, she decided to register a business, Karizm, in 2013, with the idea of events management and PR.
For a while, it was not operational. Through soul searching, she realised that her real passion was PR and events management. It was so natural to her. She mentioned the two ideas to her colleagues and they encouraged her on.
She had a year to think about it. And as luck would have it, she was approached to fill a position of public relations officer at Kampala Hospital which was good hands-on industrial training to professionalise her passion in PR. During the time, her sister, Sandra Suubi joined Airtel Trace competition. During one of their conversations, Nabunjo asked her to sing for her the song she was going to perform that evening and she remembers guiding her on how to sing Cindy Lauper’s ‘True Colours.
“And it worked. People looked on in amazement as Suubi performed. However, I did not manage her immediately. After she won the competition, I told her I could manage her. And we left it at that. I could chip in once in a while, which gave me time to learn about talent management,” she recalls.
Taking the jump
In 2016, Nabunjo was hired as the operations manager for Pebbu, an online payment platform. That year, she started to officially manage Sandra Suubi as an artiste and also took on artist Xenson Ssenkaba.
Last year, she quit her job to give more time to Karizm and her clients. Karizm for a company name was informed by the word charisma from which it is crafted. It is also based on the meaning of God’s benevolent love, and the charters that describe charisma.
Her company manages Suubi, Xenson and Case Clinic. Some of the projects Karizm has handled include the Annual Nteredde documentary showcase, the Annual Christmas in Kampala, Xenson Fashion Xpression, Nsiimye Tour, Veronica’s Wish movie premier and the Kampala Hospital rebrand.
Her job entails strategically planning for the clients to achieve the set goals, identify the right partners to work with, plan for the growth and development of the company.
Making it work
Nabunjo has been able to build her brand through consistence and ensuring that she works with clients to live their dreams, with appreciation that Karizm works as per their need or desire. In an industry fraught with unprofessinal conduct and unscrupulous service providers, Nabunjo has endured to reach for loftier ideals and sticks to them.
“Our core values are caring, quality, timeliness, efficiency, transparency and integrity. These have really guided us to building and maintaining our brand,” she further explains. The highlights of her career thus far include Suubi releasing her first EP. The singer also held her first concert, with substantial bookings. Xenson had two auctions this year, with one doing really well.
Her company worked with Veronica’s wish which scooped nine awards out of 12 it was nominated for. At the moment, she is on an on-going mentorship by Julius Kyazze, the director at Swangz Avenue, one of the respected local record labels and events’ organisers.
And she has not finished learning yet so she surrounds herself with people such as Kyazze that she respects and is happy to receive mentorship from.
“I requested Kyazze to become my mentor and he generously agreed. He advises me whenever I reach out to him in regards to the music industry. And I am really honoured. Kyazze has a lot of insights about the music industry and Ugandan event management in general that has guided me in executing my work for my clients ,” she adds.
Of course, Nabunjo also put in the hard work and spent years building relationships before she would ultimately start on her own.
Her tips for someone looking at starting a career as personal events manager is that they must be able to think fast and always keep calm during a storm and control their temper.
“Always give 100 per cent and above. For each business deal you get, you have an opportunity to advertise your services for free to more than 100 people. And treat each client like VIP.”
She also adds that it is most important to ‘start now’
and not wait for the capital to accumulate. In this business your first client does give you the capital. Put the word out,” she asserts.