HERE IS WHY MANY PWC UGANDA EMPLOYEES ARE UNHAPPY
By Mulengera Reporters
Like we reported a few days ago (hereunder https://mulengeranews.com/irony-as-disgrunlted-staff-sues-pwc-claiming-torure/), partners at big-name audit firm Price Water Coopers (PwC Uganda) are knowingly or unknowingly sitting on a time bomb in as far as staff welfare-related matters are concerned. At PwC Uganda, the hierarchy is as follows: at the very top is Senior Partner Francis Kamulegeya, the amiable UK-trained executive who has been with PwC Uganda for more than 15 years.
Kamulegeya is answerable to the East African Territory Sr Partner who is based in Nairobi Kenya from where he/she oversees PwC operations in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. The Sr Partner for the EA Territory reports to the Africa PwC Sr Partner who is based in Mauritius from where he is supervised by PwC Global Sr Partner who is based in the US. The Global Sr Partner oversees PwC operations spread out in 163 markets or countries. Though it originally traded under a different name, what became PwC commenced business operations in Uganda in 1950s.
Back home in Uganda, PwC has a hierarchy of 4 other Partners immediately below Kamulegeya and these include Uthman Mayanja, Dowson Kalemba, Cedric Mpobusingye and Pamela Natamba. Immediately below the Partners are Associate Directors who include Clive Mayombwe (earning a net pay of Shs18.5m per month), then Sr Managers, who supervise Sr Associates below whom you have common employees who are technically called Associates I & II. Associate I is the entry job position (actually the lowest) whose occupant earns a net of Shs1.56m.
In total, PwC Uganda has 160 employees majority of whom are grumbling for a multiplicity of reasons as will be illustrated in this special report. The seniors supervise those below them and yet, ironically, because of cronyism, quite often these seniors have concentrated on marginalizing those they perceive as potential competitors for their positions. It’s also common for male managers to marginalize male Associates below them in favor of curvy nice-looking girls. At PwC one must work to justify the salary they earn. The firm has “time sheets” and “snapshots” system making it hard to anyone not to be productive. Time Sheets are used for billing purposes and Snapshots for purposes of internal staff monitoring and evaluation.
Those not being productive enough to make money for the firm are easily discovered and referred to the Human Capital (HR) Manager Shivan Karemera for appropriate management. Karemera, a very powerful lady who travels so often and has immense favor of the Partners, will subject one to the Performance Improvement Proposals (PIP) meeting from where the concerned underperforming staff will have to answer for his or her mischief. Citing procedural impropriety and failure to heed rules of natural justice, many who have been through this have likened the PIP meetings to a torture chamber.
The “time sheets” and “snapshot” system is designed in such a way that an average employee will within one week make for the firm money which is enough to pay his or her salary for 6 months. And here is how it work: PwC has many clients including USAID, Global Fund Uganda, MTN Uganda, Abi Trust, BIDCO, Mukwano Group, Citibank, UNHCR, the Commercial banks, the EU, the Scandinavian embassies and ABT Associates (from Austria) just to mention a few. NSSF is occasionally theirs too and all these wealthy clients hire PwC to offer services like tax advisory, auditing, HR advisory etc.
PwC is also often hired to serve as M&E agents for USAID, GF etc. Each of these clients is made to pay per hour, in dollars and the amount depends on the seniority of PwC staff deployed on the project. The fee is calculated through the “time sheets” approach and the lowest is Associate I for whom PwC will charge up to Shs900,000 per hour. The next can cost up to Shs1.8m per hour and if it’s a Partner, the client will have to be charged up to Shs3m for every hour that Partner spends in the field on a project.
This is presumed to be the expense into the officers’ perdiem yet in actually sense, the firm expends Shs180,000 per employee per day spent out in the field. So, through the “time sheets” system which is well automated, the HR Manager Shivan Karemera will be able to detect and tell in real time which employee worked where, on which project, for which client, for how long and how much money actually came to PwC coffers as a result of that employee’s contribution. Yet the juniors (Associates I & II who form the bulk of the staff) can’t deploy themselves. They can only be integrated into a given client’s project by their immediate supervisors-chiefly the seniors. The dilemma is these supervisors are always conflicted either to favor relatives, cronies or potential girlfriends. This causes many young men and averagely beautiful girls to be deprived of deployments in the field and that is how the HC Manager Shivan Karemera ends up categorizing them as unproductive/unutilizable.
The PwC practice is so complex that the four Partners and their Senior Kamulegeya can’t easily be accessed by lower rank employees desiring to confide into them their exclusion-related grievances. To have any audience with the very proud partners, an employee must go through their very seniors or supervisors against whom they are aggrieved. And besides, each time the low-ranked staff exhibits any discontent, the seniors are quick to remind them to count themselves lucky because “you at least have PwC on your CV.” Yet without being deployed regularly in the field for the HR to perceive you as hard working, there is no way one can earn a promotion. This leaves many with frustrated career progression. And that is how grievances have accumulated over the years precipitating rampant staff departures.
Such frustration is common in a section called Government & Public Sector (covering government entities, rich NGOs, donor programs etc) which is so lucrative in the PwC practice to the extent that more than 70% of the firm’s income is got through there. Under this section, one of the managers likes leveraging on his hard work and good sales results to sexually exploit his juniors especially the nice looking curvy girls.
Despite being a married man, this highly qualified and favored guy ensures all the clients’ projects he brings to PwC are filled with female Associates and one time his supervisor asked “but how come the girls you recommend as brainy are always curvy and the prettiest in your section?” The conflicted manager couldn’t readily explain this coincidence. And suspecting that his secret had been discovered, the manager tried blackmailing his PwC superiors by offering to resign to take up a job at USAID but the Partners increased his pay to avoid losing him.
There is a one Viola (Associate I) who resigned her PwC job after this sexually insatiable manager stalked her wherever she went. He would, breaching the PwC rule which prohibits managers from going to the field, follow her to the hotel she was staying each time the girl was sent out in the field for assignments as recommended by him. Despite all these favorable deployments, the girl consistently rejected him saying she wasn’t comfortable doing married men. And besides she too was already into a very serious relationship. In the end, her boyfriend prevailed on her to resign and find another job after realizing there was no way she would report her concerns to the Partners without complicating things for herself. In any case the partners considered the manager, who was sexually harassing her, to be indispensable because he is the PwC engagement manager for some of the very best and most lucrative deals.
THE ACCA PROG
In other cases, PwC managers frustrate low rank employees’ efforts to go for further studies. There is a manager who began fighting a young man in his section after realizing he had secretly been doing a master’s degree similar to his at Makerere. All the managers tolerate is those they supervise taking up the ACCA which the PwC pays for everyone as a policy. Anything beyond that, one will be targeted and fought until they quit.
In another instance, a young man unsuccessfully sought audience of the Partners to seek remedy and protection against a manager who resented and denied him field assignments simply because his hunky looks made him attractive to many young ladies including those who had rejected the manager’s advances. The same manager resented the young man simply because he always wore nice suits and parked a posh vehicle better than his at the PwC staff parking at Mercantile Building near Workers House.
The manager was equally disturbed that this young man (10 years younger than him) travelled to UK often. Unknown to the manager, the young man had partly grown up in UK, it was his 2nd home and its where his mum lives. Simply put: the manager was increasingly nervous fearing the young man would take his job someday. In the end, the manager used Shivan, his very good friend, to frustrate the young man until he quit his job.
The policy at PwC is that no one should be terminated and this is aimed at circumventing potential bad publicity in case a terminated employee litigates against the firm (policy is the resultant damages are charged on individual Partners’ earnings). Instead what they do is to subject the no longer wanted employee to psychological and emotional torture until they resign on their own volition. Some young people have had to resign under circumstances like these only to live in financial misery because the PwC HR Manager won’t readily issue you with a termination letter which is all you require for PwC partnering bank, Standard Chartered, to use your insurance cover to discharge you in case you had an ongoing salary loan. Without the termination letter, which evidences you no longer work with PwC, the bank will continue chasing after the employee to service their salary loan. This is causing extreme aggrievement against PwC among both current and ex-employees.
He is one of the partners against whom many staffers are aggrieved & unhappy. That because he is addicted to preventing the firm from spending money, Kalemba takes forever to approval vouchers for facilitation of Associates going to the field to do firm work yet managers like Robert Kyeyagalire (his blue eyed boy) always want guys to go to the field immediately. These are the Associates who are allocated Shs180,000 in perdiem per day when they go upcountry to do work on USAID or even UNHCR assignments.
Fear to be branded cry-babies and noon performers prompts such Associates to proceed to the field using personal money (off the meager Shs1.56m they earn per month) as they await for the company facilitation. Kalemba queries many things on vouchers and in the process, a lot of time is lost. It was worst last year, during one of the project that lasted 6 months, as Associates had to wait up to December to be reimbursed the facilitation/perdiem cash which they had requisitioned for in August. Many had to ring friends in Kampala soliciting personal loans to be able to do PwC work as the powerful Dowson Kalemba took his time. The man to finally release the money is Christopher Bumpanje, the Finance Manager, who (despite earning a net of Shs18m per month) comes to office only thrice a week.
OVER WORKING STAFF
In PwC there is also the issue of over working staff (mostly those getting their first job) without not being prepared to pay overtime allowances or enhance their salary. We shall reference on what currently is happening in the private audit department where the few surviving employees, still willing to work like donkeys, remain glued on their laptops up to 2am and yet many of them have to work Monday to Sunday to be able to deliver client’s work on time.
This 8am-2am and Monday to Sunday work schedule has become inevitable for these PwC employees because the private audit department currently has only 5 Senior Associates doing and supervising the delivery of clients’ audit work that in the past used to be superintended over by 15 Senior Associates! This explains why work fatigue-related admissions of PwC staff have lately been on the increase at city hospitals like IHK and others. Some of this work place-related fatigue and illness has resulted from PwC managers who like barking at and humiliating junior employees in especially the finance department where mistakes like forgetting to deduct VAT or WHT are rampant as junior employees get to learn on the job. Each time such an omission is committed, the offending employee will have to be vigorously rebuked before their workmates. This has eroded many employees’ self-esteem as many feel worthless.
One fatigued low-ranked employee was recently advised by a family doctor to choose between his mental health and continuing to be enslaved under the very ungrateful and inconsiderate PwC work environment. Each time an employee signals readiness to raise a red flag over the firm’s clear breaches and violation of the relevant labor laws and their own HR Manual, the HC/HR Manager Shivan Karemera quickly calls in the legal counsel Dorothy Uzamukunda who proudly occupies and heads the Office of General Counsel at Communications House-based PwC. Dorothy supervises 5 other equally overworked young lawyers under the much dreaded OGC. The two tough ladies, Dorothy Uzamukunda and Shivan Karemera, will then summon the grumbling staff and refer him or her to the non-disclosure agreement clauses in the respective employment contracts.
This reference to the NDA clauses often cows aggrieved employees into silent exit as opposed to raising any dust. Some fear that raising a red flag will cause them to lose the benefits accruing from having PwC recommendation letter as part of one’s CV. It’s the reason many working under the private audit department (8am-2am/seven days a week) have continued to suffer silently though fears remain that quality of reports large private sector clients (like Coca-Cola, MTN Uganda, Citi Bank, Centenary Bank, Mukwano Group, BIDCO, DFCU and others) have been used to risks being compromised. There is no way much more can be expected from a work force which is so overstretched like is happening at PwC amidst what is widely perceived as incommensurate pay.
Yet that isn’t all. There are also wide spread concerns that some of the PwC partners habitually lure young corporates to resign their jobs elsewhere to come and work for them only to leave regretting because the anticipated pay and promotion never come to fruition. The lucky Associates who get to speak to any of the partners showing displeasure are lured to stay put to permit the Partners time to address their concerns. There is a hard working Sr Associate who stagnated without being promoted for 19 years and desired to quit PwC in protest. Because banks like hiring ex-PwC employees, as they are assumed to be used to hardship, the guy had negotiated a very good job remuneration package at DTB and when one of the partners got wind of it, he invited him for lunch at Serena Hotel.
And while there he apologized and owned up to all the grievances he had against PwC management. He assured him he has consulted fellow Partners and they had agreed to immediately promote him and increase his pay. The guy changed his mind and chickened out of the DTB deal only to regret later. The PwC Partners didn’t keep their word and they instead promoted a young girl he used to supervise and here he was being supervised by a junior whose induction program he conducted. To this day, the guy remains in PwC but ceaselessly curses the concerned PwC Partner for ruining his career progression!
There is another gentleman called Micheal Kibirango who one of the PwC Partners lured from a well-paying and predictable job at IAAA. Kibirango was promised heaven on earth; promotion and much better pay only to end up regretting. ABT Associates, the Austrian agency based in Bugolobi, had responded to a proposal by one of the PwC Partners and availed millions of dollars to implement the Voucher Management Agent (VMA) project. It was about popularizing medical insurance and making the same attractive to the poor in ghetto communities.
USAID and UK Aid also later on came on board and injected more cash making the project financially very successful for PwC though top management consistently likened the project to “swallowing a crocodile” implying it wasn’t a good business prospect for PwC.
Kibirango was brought in to accelerate performance on the VMA project after the financing partners raised a red flag questioning failure to register the anticipated progress. VMA ran for 5 years and ended last December 2020. Kibirango, on being lured, quit IAAA where management had even fired his immediate supervisor as they prepared to promote and give him more responsibility on their insurance project.
The PwC Partner had promised to make him Assistant Claims Manager under the VMA project which never happened. Kibirango, a graduate pharmacist, was made a “claims vetting officer” which earned him a monthly gross pay of Shs1.56m at PwC. Instead the position he had been promised at the time of leaving IAAA, which is a respected brand in the medical insurance practice, ended up having to be supervised by a one Evelyn Linda, a midwife, who was favored for being blood related to the wife of one of the Partners at PwC.
Tired of being humiliated and taunted by his Makerere Medical School OBs for being a graduate pharmacist being supervised by a midwife, Kibirango because career-wise very frustrated and resigned from PwC. Having lost an entire 5 years without being adequately utilized, a frustrated Kibirango recently went into private business in Luwero where he runs a small hospital. “He was so frustrated and traumatized, he doesn’t want to work for anyone again,” says a source adding that the Kibirango-like trauma is equally experienced by many ex-PwC employees.
THE 30 INTERNS
Another VMA project-related fiasco concerned the 30 young people who, in 2015, where recruited to work for PwC under its Graduate Recruitment program. Renowned for frequent staff recruitment to replenish its operations against high staff turnover, PwC Uganda prides itself in always attracting the “best and brightest.” Every end of academic year, PwC teams storm Universities around Kampala to address finalist students from amongst whom the very best are chosen for what is initially made to seem very exciting career placements. In the case of 2015, the very best finalists (lawyers, engineers, IT, journalists, innovators etc) selected were dedicated to the Bugolobi-based VMA project to serve as data entrants.
The promise to these gullible and very optimistic fresh graduates was that they would at the end of the 5 year VMA project be integrated into PwC mainstream which occupies three floors at UCC-owned Communications House (at a cost of $12,000 per floor per month). The project wound up December last year and the 30 best and brightest graduates from the 2015 cohort couldn’t believe their eyes seeing what they expected to be their automatic intake into PwC mainstream (having graduated from being project staff) being advertised.
They were told they had been assessed and found not to be good enough for retention into PwC proper. These are people now approaching their 30 years: they can’t seek entry-level positions in any serious organizations because of age and yet they can’t even reference PwC on their CVs because they were merely project staff under VMA and never PwC employees. Just imagine somebody who graduates as the best in their B.com, Economics, Statistics, Law or even Engineering class being kept as a data entrant for an entire 5 years!
And yet PwC, which is supposed to be a model of excellence on HR practices, didn’t pay them handsomely as one would expect for the brightest. Their monthly salary, as VMA project staff, averaged at Shs600,000/Shs800,000 (gross) depending on who you knew or slept with at PwC. They didn’t benefit from the ACCA sponsorship which the HR Manual makes mandatory for all Ugandans employed under any PwC-Uganda project.
Yet this ACCA isn’t the only staff entitlement of which the 30 gullible young graduates were deprived. Whoever works hard at PwC is entitled to a bonus which none of the VMA project staff ever got. Our information though is that the PwC Partners have lately been very stingy regarding bonuses. It’s mainly given to Managers and above and still that can only go to a manager who takes initiative and brings a client like Robert Kyeyagalire often does. Managers no longer earn any perdiem because they aren’t expected to do any field work. They must peruse newspapers and websites for the different entities to learn of the available business opportunities and submit tender documents on behalf of PwC. Once you bid successfully on behalf of PwC, as a manager, you become entitled to a bonus.
The mistreatment of the 2015 Graduate recruits who worked on the 5 year VMA project in Bugolobi, it’s being feared, could demonize the entire PwC Graduate Recruitment program and cause some of the always targeted “best and brightest” finalists to stay away from such sessions at Makerere and other big-name Universities around Kampala.
No parent would like their child to go through what the 30 ill-fated young graduates have endured at PwC. Just imagine someone who graduated as the best engineering or law student at Makerere 5 years ago having to begin looking for a job now as if they have just graduated. And they have only data entry experience and nothing relating to their fields of study. It’s simply too painful to ponder.
Many employees are angry that all this marginalization (paying the best and brightest graduate Shs800k per month) is happening at a time PwC, as a company, continues making very good money off the Ugandan market with their annual profit after tax averaging at $10m. Next we shall profile the client relations and showcase the ways in which PwC, whose Ugandan Partners curiously prefer to continue renting as opposed to owning their own complex like is the case with PwC Kenya, makes very good money in Uganda, an economy many continue to perceive as struggling. Even during 2020, which was generally a COVID-stressed year, PwC Uganda made millions of dollars in profit off this very ailing market called Uganda. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com).