Lulu: Do your job and let what you do speak for itself

Lulu Ng’wanakilala is the Chief Executive Officer at the Legal Services Facility (LSF). PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • As Lulu Ng’wanakilala – currently chief executive of the Legal Services Facility (LSF) – climbed steadily up the ranks, she says she has always strived to let what she did speak for itself...

Dar es Salaam. Lulu Ng’wanakilala is the Chief Executive Officer at the Legal Services Facility (LSF). She is also the Board Chairperson of the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (Tawla).

She has been working for more than 20 years in leadership positions, specifically on women’s rights, gender and development programmes, among many others.

She says her leadership journey started at a young age when at primary and secondary school levels. Being the first-born naturally made her believe she was supposed to be a good example to her siblings: the one to show the way forward.

Reading a lot of books as she was growing up contributed a lot to her progress, exposing her to a lot of different things, such as the belief that “nothing was impossible under the sun.”

When in secondary school she decided that she would became a leader. Knowing that being a leader goes with being confident, she started with learning how to present herself in front of people.

“I was always putting my hand up, offering to take roles and opportunities which others wouldn’t take. It was a very conscious move, and everything I did from that point readied me for the journey I was going to take,” says Lulu.

Commenting on her 20 years’ experience in leadership, she says, her journey was never easy. The leadership journey has ups and downs. One has to have the willingness and ability to persevere

Being ready, focused and resilient are not options in the leadership journey as obstacles will always be there - and one has to overcome them, she says.

Working hard, being credible, showing integrity and being able to deliver are the key things that supported her in her leadership journey. Striving from one level of leadership to another, she always wanted the results of her job to speak for themselves.

“For me, leadership is not about title; it is the purpose. I have always been driven by purpose, because I want lo uplift as many people as I can - especially women and girls. I want them to be inspired by me, to be able to do things which they think they couldn’t do,” says Lulu.

She says the “why” factor should always be taken into account, as it gives a clear reason why you want to be a leader - and will help you to reach your leadership goals.

“I make sure I am updated on everything - not just on my work. If you ask me now about politics, sports - or anything - you want us to talk about, I am able to do. It is important to keep yourself informed, so that you can talk about anything,” she says.

Commenting on the tangibles she is proud of, Lulu says she is a person who doesn’t take full credit for everything she does. For her, it is about teamwork as she does have a team behind her for whatever she is doing.

She is proud of her work at the University of Dar es Salaam as she was the first female Vice President of the Students Union - and other women came into that position after her.

She realized that her efforts made much impact on others and she is happy about the legacy she left, as she left the doors open for other women to come in after her. She is indeed proud of the role she has played in life.

“The thing which makes me really proud is when people come to me and tell me that it was because of me that they have achieved something positive in their life,” she says.

Commenting on her leadership style. Lulu says she has no specific style. She is just creative, innovative - and is able to understand and respond accordingly to the situations and environments of the people you are working with.

For her, therefore, the leadership style changes according to whatever is going on at the particular moment, and who you are talking to or working with. But, generally her style is inspirational, and she is able to ensure that others do have a more-or-less similar vision.

Talking about her roles at Tawla - and how her position support the development of the women agenda - Lulu says, it is an honour and privilege to be in that position as there is a lot of empowering each other that’s going on.

She works closely with the Tawla management to ensure they implement projects and programmes that are important to Tawla and its members.

“It is a combination of highly-skilled women lawyers who are vibrant in their areas. It is a huge responsibility which I don’t take lightly. I like the dynamics and diversity we have at Tawla. Both the founding members, the ones who came in between and the new and young members do interact well,” she says.

Commenting on what should be done to increase the number of women leaders, she says, equal opportunities should be considered.

We have talked enough about women being leaders. It is time to act and take more women to leadership tables,” she says.

“If we want to see more women in leadership positions, we need deliberate and intentional efforts to make sure such changes do take place soonest,” she says.

Also, work at home and at the workplace must be balanced as that will help one to perform better at both places. Failure to create the balance leads to poor performance at work and at home.

Some of Lulu’s former positions in leadership includes as the Country Representative of Engender Health (a global gender and public health organization), and as Executive Director of UMATI, a Family Planning Association of Tanzania.

Other positions are as Country Representative, Country Director, Executive Director, Managing Director, and Project Director of various organisations and programmes.

For the full interview, watch Mwananchi Digital