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Meet Rebecca Mildred Atugonza

Quality Control Chemist at Uganda Batteries Limited

Products made in factories have to adhere to National and International Quality Standards if they are to be fit for purpose. Factories hire quality control chemists to test these products to ascertain their quality. 
In today's career spotlight, we bring you Rebecca Mildred Atugunza, a Quality Control Chemist at Uganda Batteries Limited. This is what she had to share. 

So Rebecca,  What you do as a Quality Control Chemist and what motivated you to pursue that career path?

I do a number of activities the core ones being preparing and testing samples from all the control process points along the processing line and incoming materials, record the quality of products and provide feedback.

Contributing to reviewing and updating of the QC SOPs ensuring only current and relevant SOPs are in use Maintaining and keeping all laboratory equipment and machines in good working order and state of calibration in order to meet required national standards. Contributing to the formulation and participating in the implementation of projects to improve product quality, and documenting the improvements realized.

About being a chemist, Bachelor of Science in Technology-Chemistry is one of the courses I applied for while joining a university and fortunately got. That is how i ended up in this field and there are no regrets.

Rebecca while conducting a test in the Lab

What was it like finishing school and getting into your first jobs?

I got my first job before I actually finished my last exam at University. I found a notice at the Deans Office with an opportunity to work as an Assistant Quality Controller in Steel and Tube Industries. I applied, was called for interviews and fortunately got the job. I worked there for about one and a half years before joining my current workplace Uganda Batteries Limited (UBL).
UBL has been a place of growth for me. There is a lot of knowledge and skills that I have got from my workmates especially those that have worked longer than I have. My confidence and circle of professionals have greatly widened as well.

What advice would you share with someone preparing for a job interview?

As one goes for an interview, it is important to be the best of who you are because you have to convince the interviewer that you are the best candidate for the position. One, therefore, needs to be confident but not too pompous, have some knowledge about the organization, find a way of being interactive with the interviewer by keeping them engaged as you answer the questions being asked and most importantly being open to learning and be teachable.

Anything cool about this kind of work, Are there challenges?

The chemistry world got me appreciating how different products are manufactured right from the raw materials, processes involved in the final product. The Chemistry that I had studied all those years became real (tangible) and actual which I find cool.

There are some challenges. Being a female, some male counterparts don't think we are capable of handling certain tasks since we are considered a weaker sex and as such male employees are usually given an upper hand. Also if one is not creative enough, the work will eventually become routine, monotonous and in the long run boring.

What skills does one need to be a Quality Control Chemist, how important are those skills and how can someone perfect such skills?

One needs to be very analytical because you have got to solve problems by making decisions that are sensible given the available information. You need to be orderly so that you can have easy trace-ability of all the work you do. Skills can only be perfected with the continued practice since we all know practice makes perfect!

How did school (High school and University) prepare you for the career you are pursuing today?

Most of the information that I got in 'A' level and University has been of great help in my work. Chemistry was one of my essential subjects as I applied for my course at University the other being Physics. The information I got from these two subjects at either level of education has really been helpful in my work. The practical lessons, in particular, provided a safe landing since most of the tests I had to do at work I was familiar with.

Any rewarding events so far that made you proud to be a Quality Control Chemist?

Small things like walking away from a client who is satisfied with the quality of my product and services give me a sense of pride and joy.

So what is the future like for this career field? What trends are you seeing that are going to define the field 5 years to come?

The future I believe is bright. There is an increasing number of industries in the country and many young people especially ladies are taking on science courses which is a good thing unlike in the past where these were considered subjects for the men.
I see many young ambitious women rise up to take on the challenges and jobs in these places. Most of these manufacturing companies have advanced machinery which is automated which makes work efficient. There is also protection of workers from health hazards which comes with the provision of advanced PPE and a safe working environment which was not a case in the past. Am sure every day something new and better is coming up.

Finally, what advice would you give someone who dreams of walking on the same career path you are on?

Believe in yourself, work hard and dream big knowing you're the number one person that will benefit from the effort in the future. Work towards making your future self proud and not look back in regret wishing you'd done things differently. Also, a very smart academic background without discipline and integrity will not get you far in your career growth. Be humble and teachable

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