Pheona Nabasa Wall believes it is time for the young generation to take responsibility and participate in serving the country for the better.
“I’m passionate about our generation. We, the young, have to invest our energy and spearhead development in our society,” she told Insider in an interview last week.
At the start of the same week, Pheona was elected Uganda Law Society [ULS] Honorary Secretary at an annual general meeting held in Munyonyo.
Pheona, who is naturally gifted with beauty and brains, joined law society in 2010.
She says anyone who wants to practice law has to be enrolled because the Uganda Law Society is statutorily established.
It’s role is established in the Uganda Law Society Act.
The Uganda Law Society also provides lawyers with continuing legal education, provides pro Bono services to the poor, advocates for lawyers’ interests, provides opinions on legislation affecting lawyers, bills in parliament and promotes professionalism among lawyers.
Here is the full interview:
What inspired your decision to stand as ULS secretary?
Two years ago, I attended an East African Community [EAC] law society meeting in Kigali Rwanda where we discussed regional integration. I realised that Uganda needs a strong law society that can empower our lawyers to compete positively on the regional level.
I had been active in law society activities including giving comments in the papers.
This was a good time to serve. I presented myself at the general meeting [in Munyonyo] and spoke to the lawyers asking them for their support
In our first secret ballot ever, I was elected Honorary Secretary.
Everyone was happy with the way the Society handled the elections and all of us including my opponent are ready to work together.
How do you to intend to achieve that “strong society” you spoke of?
Well, the President Gimara Francis and the rest of us on the Council plan to publish law journals and increase dissemination of our materials. We will also start a fund for the Society Home to host our own trainings and lessen the financial burden on members. We want to build on our predecessors’ valiant efforts as well.
We want to build a relationship with other associations to increase our bargaining power and get them to fund some of our activities so that we can increase access to justice. We also aim at building a brand that will increase membership at little or no cost.
How will you juggle law society activities with your pressing fulltime job at National Water and Sewerage Corporation?
Actually, my work at NWSC lies in the same field. I am the Manager Legal Services.
How did you transition from Public Relations Manager to Manager Legal?
It was a process of course. I joined NWSC in 2007 as a commercial officer legal and debt management. From 2009 to 2012, I served as the corporation as the Principal Public Relations Officer.
As the spokesperson, I was in charge of communications, Social media management, crisis management, branding, media management and stakeholder management.
Most importantly, I was also serving on the contracts committee as a legal adviser. This was a stepping-stone for me to join the corporation’s legal department.
How do you explain the gap of two years between your job as PPRO  and Manager legal Services [2014-present]?
I was working with Airtel Uganda [an Indian global telecommunications services company headquartered in New Delhi, India] as their Public Relations Manager in that period.
I got the offer in 2012 to serve in Airtel. I needed more exposure to the workings of PR in the private sector and the telecom was attractive because of their workload. I also knew joining Airtel would improve my skills. In addition, things like the Airtel-Warid Merger really grew my skills in crisis and stakeholder management.
I also felt it was time to let someone else to grow in my role as PPRO [at NWSC] and had put in place systems to ensure things continued smoothly.
What tangible achievement did you make for Airtel?
Well, Airtel was a completely new world for me but I was ready for the challenge because of my training at NWSC.
It was during my tenure that Airtel entered a merger with Warid. We came up with a communications plan, which was approved and later implemented. It was so successful that we were able to retain all the Warid customers.
At the time, social media was a new thing. Airtel had 50,000 social media followers but by the time I left, we had grown the number to 250,000 followers.
We formed a client engagement page, had an instant response rate using our agency [Blu Flamingo] and a web portal that featured local content (UGO).
We were also able to secure a sponsorship deal for Uganda Cranes and Basketball which broadly boosted our brand.
Things were going on well and I learnt so much and built so many relationships. However, when NWSC advertised in 2014 for the position of Manager Legal, my heartstrings were pulled back to my old career and my old home. I applied, did interviews and was honoured to be hired.
You had achieved a lot for Airtel in a short time. Your PR career was at its peak, why did you abandon it to return to NWSC?
I wouldn’t call it “abandoning”. I still have been practicing PR as the Public Relations Director of the PRAU. I love communications but I have always had a passion for the practice of law as well. That is what I studied.
After completing my O and A levels at St Marys Namagunga, I joined Makerere University for a Law Degree.
I later did a diploma from Law Development Centre. I also hold a Masters Degree in Management. See! While I have been in communications and PR management, law is also a sort of first love.
There is something more; we are a family at NWSC and I missed it.
So, has the position of Manager Legal at NWSC given you the opportunity to live your dream?
Definitely. As head of the legal department, I’m in charge of insurance services, litigation [representing the corporation in courts], acquisition and management of property, intellectual property rights protection, debt collection and illegal water use reduction. That stretches my abilities and has grown me tremendously.
What have you achieved for the department in the two years so far?
Quite a lot. The NWSC has a very supportive Board and the MD and CS have championed our cause in the Department. The NWSC legal department is now a fully approved law firm. We now have been miraculously given a special Magistrate to handle utility cases by the Hon. Principal Judge. We have been trained to prosecute NWSC water theft cases by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions [DPP]. We have also made some innovations with the IT department like an electronic land management system.
We work with the media and police to curb water theft. We have been able to reach out to local water committees [WACOCO] through the PR Department to handle water issues at every level.
All this we are doing to contribute towards the corporation’s 5-year strategic plan.
Your life reads like a tight executive’s diary. Who is Pheona outside the work environment?
I’m married with three children. I’m also a Christian.
Do you have any free or “me time”?
Yes. I use it for church activities, family outings and rotary.
I also love writing, movies, reading novels, social media engagement and reading poetry.