Queen Siraki: TLGU leader with vision of taking golf to next level

TLGU president Queen Siraki plays a shot during the past Lugalo ladies’ golf competition. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Apart from being a golfer, Siraki is a banker, works for Exim Bank (T) Limited as the Head of the Special Assets Management Department

Dar es Salaam. Queen Siraki is one of Tanzania’s most famous names in golf. Siraki, or Queen, as fellow golfers like to call her, is currently the president of the Tanzania Ladies Golf Union (TLGU), a position she won during the body’s general meeting held on March 25, 2023 at the Lugalo Golf Club in Dar es Salaam.

Soon after being sworn-in as the TLGU president, Siraki started the task of developing the game for women and so far its positive results have begun to be seen. Apart from being the TLGU president, Siraki is a member of the Lugalo Golf Club and so far in collaboration with other leaders, she has managed to build a new spirit to the game by creating the pathway of attaining the highest level of development.

Despite the fact that the TLGU leaders are in office for not more than three months, so far the awareness of the game has been very impressive. TLGU, in collaboration with the Tanzania Golf Union (TGU), managed to send a junior national team to compete in the All Africa Challenge Trophy held recently in Uganda.

Before that, Tanzania juniors did not compete in any event for about five years. Madina Idd's victory in the Kenyan Ladies Open, the well-staged Lugalo Ladies Open, and the cooperation between TLGU and TGU are some of the great things that the game’s stakeholders are now enjoying. Apart from being a leader, Queen is also a player of the game and, until now, has competed in various competitions. Her history in the game has many histories, but officially, it was in 2017 that she started appearing before stakeholders.

"You might not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control your response to your circumstances," quotes by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who has inspired Siraki.

Sports involvement

 Siraki is an enthusiastic fan of sports. The sports she keeps track of are basketball, football, and golf, among others. She normally watches basketball and football, both in national and international leagues.

“I am a Simba SC fan and my favourite player is John Bocco. Internationally, I support Manchester City, and my favourite player is Kevin De Bruyne (KDB). However, among all the sports, golf is my favourite game to play and watch. I started playing golf in 2017,” she said. She said she got involved in the game since her childhood while in Kilimanjaro where she was born and raised. She says she was inspired by Sophia Viggo, a former famous lady golfer in Kilimanjaro.

“I used to see her in newspapers, playing at Moshi Club. This accelerated my interest, and I had no hesitation to join the sport when my boss (Gift Shoko, NCBA Bank CEO), who had by then introduced me to the sport. I thank Gift Shoko for the life-changing adventure that has exceedingly built my network, physical fitness, and mental potency,” said Siraki.

She says Rice, despite having one of the most demanding jobs in America, took up golf. When interviewed by the Golf Digest Magazine, Rice, who has been an athlete all her life, said she plays tennis, skating, and now golf.

“With golf, there is a lot of room to improve and get better, unlike other games like tennis where you can reach the plateau. Golf, unlike other sports, gives and takes away; it teaches me to be more patient and to try to rein in my tendency to always go for it," she was quoted as saying.

Golf leadership

Her leadership journey started after she joined the sport about three years ago when she was chosen to be secretary of the TPDF Lugalo Golf Club Ladies Section. She extends special appreciation to the Lugalo Golf Club chairman and members for trusting her. She was later elected as the new president of the Tanzania Ladies Golf Union (TLGU) on March 25, 2023.

“I thank my fellow golfers and the National Sports Council for the extended confidence they have in me. I don’t take this for granted.

The past TLGU leadership, under the headship of president Sophia Viggo, has provided a very safe pair of hands in golf, and I would like to thank them. From my point of view, I just want to see more people, and most importantly, women and children, playing and ideally enjoying golf. My leading objective is to harmoniously promote golf among women, juniors, and other groups.

“My passion is to unite women and juniors throughout Tanzania and around the world and bring them to the forefront of the conversation through golf, with the essence of promoting the sport among them,” she said. Siraki says her priorities are to engage the community, especially more ladies in the sport; connect our ladies golf sections with international golf sections around the world; have lady pros; and brand the union and national team to take up more competitions and championships around the world.

For the juniors, Siraki said, in collaboration with other leaders of the union, they aim to create a safe and enjoyable environment where young girls and boys will be introduced to the golf game, enhance the already established junior section in some of the clubs and have it on every regional course, have super and supported junior programmes, and establish more intercourse club and national competitions for juniors’ club championships and national challenges.

She said golf is among the rare sports that bring together different kinds of people from diverse environments, regardless of age, race, nationality, physical prowess, race, social, economic, or political background.

“The intriguing fact about golf is that, as much as it challenges your physical limits, it also does the same to your mind in a way that inspires players to push forward. It is a game to be played in your mind before being played in the course. It is a sport that feeds self-competition and builds character. The sport calls for eye, hand, mind, and body coordination, which makes it exceptionally hard to master, though seen as very easy in the outer world. I treasure the challenging encounters in golf,” she said.

She said, “The closest game to the game we call life. You will never figure golf out. You will never master the game, but you can always get better and improve. It’s fascinating how golf relates, imitates, mirrors, and reflects the experience and cycle of life.” She explained that the beauty of golf is also in the aura of finesse, elegance, etiquette, and peculiar dress codes.

“ It is also played in exclusive and spectacular venues endowed with beautiful landscapes and the sound of nature, which helps golfers take their time away from competition and fitness to have moments and hours to unwind from the chaos of everyday life,” she said.

According to Siraki, golf is a recreational social sport and hence helping boost self-esteem, social skills, and relationships, especially business relationships. The game improves social interaction and bonding by bringing together people who have shared skills. The camaraderie of the 19th hole of fun.

“Apart from golf being a social sport, it relieves stress and builds mental health; lowers the risk of heart diseases and other cardiovascular issues; fosters a healthy sense of competition; builds character; improves concentration and boosts the brain; burns calories; and helps with weight loss. I urge everyone and every lady to ‘give golf a go,’" she said.

Outside golf activities

Apart from being a golfer, Siraki is a banker. Her banking career journey started about 13 years ago with Standard Chartered Bank (T) Ltd before working for ECO Bank, Commercial Bank of Africa (T) Limited (now NCBA Bank).

TLGU president Queen Siraki

She now works for Exim Bank (T) Limited as the Head of the Special Assets Management Department. In all the 13 years she has been working as a loan workout specialist, a role that involves monitoring high-risk, criticized, distressed, impaired, and challenged credit assets from retail to large, complex corporate deals as well as project finance deals in the banks’ portfolio.

Primary objectives for her position are to administer and monitor a portfolio of the stated complex credit relationships through proactive scrutiny, restructuring, negotiation, and settlement efforts with the aim of assisting in the turnaround and rehabilitating loans, leveling to minimize losses and maximize recoveries for banks.

She said the role also embraces portfolio exit strategies, which may include the liquidation of borrowers’ assets and loan assets.

The success layers in her job are countless, varying from businesses she support and the supervision of the distressed portfolio in developing valuation models and written recommendations of action plans for the challenged credits, determining the ability of the challenged credits to service their debts, measuring and monitoring their operating and financial performance and their adherence to financial covenants, determining their ability to turnaround operations in the hope of realizing improved financial performance, and assessing their ability and business valuations under various restructuring and settlement options. She joined the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) in 2006 and her aspiration and wish were to be a specialist in foreign policy and advisory as well as international relations (diplomacy), which led her to undertake a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology degree majoring in international relations.

In 2009, she completed bachelor’s degree, but she wasn’t fortunate with her desires to get a job at the ministry of Foreign Affairs or any agency that encompassed her proficiency at the time.

“As I unearthed my potential further, I thought I could work in financial institutions, as I had a fair mathematical background that would allow me to take on any task in banking. Hence, I sent my application to Standard Chartered Bank. The reason why Standard Chartered Bank was my foremost choice is a long, fascinating story to tell in other settings.

“The enormity of the shift in my career aspirations and objectives compelled me to pursue a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA), which I earned from ESAMI Business School in 2020, and business leadership programmes from Strathmore Business School,” she said. Siraki said that the MBA and such programmes have been a perfect fit for her career, and the apprehended shift has helped her gain the in-depth knowledge of business practices, a tenet so important to the bank and businesses.

“Through the SWOP, I gained competence and skills in organization behaviour, management, communication, negotiation skills, international finance and business, marketing, financial management, entrepreneurship, people management, legal (business law), business analytics, social and corporate innovation, board dynamics, supply chain, and credit appraisals, among others,” she elaborated.

However, she explained that the intermingling of her B.A. degree and MBA has been a suitable blend in her career and a good catalyst for increasing her capabilities in business leadership, humanity, workout strategies, and people management. “I have also gained diverse skills that cater for all spheres of life, fields, and businesses.

“Beyond my career and expertise is the family I nurture and support. I have two beautiful, active children, who are as sports-fanatic as myself. When I am at home, I love cooking, reading, listening to various news, and watching sports. My readings mostly involve leadership, business, politics, and sports,” she added.