Exclusive Interview with Eliza Namugenyi: Director of Budget and Business Administration at IFC

Written by Lauren Volkodav, Riya Desai on Saturday, 12 June 2021. Posted in Interviews

Photo courtesy of Eliza Namugenyi

This month, Girls For Business interviewed Eliza Namugenyi, the Director of Budget and Business Administration of the International Finance Corporation. Eliza has over 20 years of experience working in complex budget planning, resource management, and accounting and finance. She has also served as a manager for the World Bank. 

Eliza is certainly an experienced and highly successful professional in the finance and accounting field. But, unlike many in her field who knew they wanted to pursue finance since high school, she had an uncommon start. Eliza, originally from Uganda, spoke about how she was introduced to accounting by “pure accident”. Eliza formerly was “drawn to engineering” but in Uganda there were not many engineering options. However, Eliza did have the opportunity to study accounting, so she traded her initial interest in engineering and investment banking for accounting. As it turns out, Eliza eventually found a passion for accounting after she studied accounting in college and eventually selected the profession as her career path. However, she did not limit herself to just accounting. Eliza described her professional growth as something that allowed her  to broaden her role to include “budgeting, controls, and reporting”. 

Additionally, Eliza manages a $1.8 billion dollar budget and real estate portfolio, indicating the versatility she was able to obtain from her accounting studies. Eliza’s professional focus was not the only factor changing in her industry. Since working at IFC, Eliza has experienced “an increase in diversity with recruiting and targeting underrepresented nationalities” which also include women in leadership positions. Eliza explained how the “deliberate efforts and targets for the shift” lead to an increase in minorities and immigrants working for  IFC.

But, the increase of diversity at IFC has not come without its challenges. Eliza discussed how as a female minority, she oftentimes had to take on roles she may not have had as much experience in. But, this is where her supportive and knowledgeable team stepped in to aid her. Eliza noted how “surrounding yourself with people who can do the job better than you can” ensures projects run smoothly. Her team also allows Eliza to “see different perspectives” that she learns and grows from. 

Before she rose through the ranks at IFC, Eliza started at “the bottom of the totem pole.” Her first job was at Price Waterhouse, in which she worked 12 hour work-days reshelving materials. Despite the arduous labor that the job required, Eliza is grateful for the experience. The job grounded her and taught her the value of being punctual while being held accountable, regardless of who is watching. Starting from the bottom, she learned the most about being a professional in the business industry, shaping who she is today. She even sees lessons that she learned back then playing out today. 

A typical work day with Eliza at the IFC consists of her running the business and sitting on committees. A big portion of her work is budgeting- specifically figuring out how much money should be appropriated within the company. Eliza is also part of the emergency management team which looks at crises around the world. Recently, she has had to deal with many COVID-related issues, especially with the ongoing crisis in India. Despite the heavy responsibility that she takes on with her work, her job is truly rewarding. She feels that the selflessness that she has seen in her staff helps her get up every morning and give her all. Eliza talked about one staff member in India who had COVID, but despite that, still managed to show up to work every day in order to support their household. Eliza’s favorite part about working at IFC is the diversity. The World Bank represents staff from over 170 countries; the cultural and life experience diversity that Eliza experiences daily is something that she genuinely appreciates. With the vast number of perspectives that is offered from the staff, Eliza tends to reflect on her own way of thinking, and as a result, her thinking has evolved. 

As the interview came to an end, Eliza gave some words of advice for young girls who aspire to pursue business as their future career. First and foremost, she stresses the importance of finding something that you love. More specifically, finding a sweet-spot between finding your passion and a career path that has a future. Consequently, it’s easier to become good at your job once you find a career that you really love. Second, she emphasizes the importance of keeping an open mind and surrounding yourself with people who are not like you. For Eliza, travelling has helped her open up her mind and hear unique global perspectives from diverse life experiences and backstories. In addition, travelling has also helped Eliza build better connections and increase her networking. “Be the person people come to when they want something done,” Eliza concludes. Perhaps the biggest takeaway that she stresses is to have faith and confidence in yourself. Every single person belongs and deserves to be where they are at; Eliza hopes that all girls understand the importance of confidence and self-advocacy in the growing business world. 

About the Author

Lauren Volkodav

Lauren Volkodav

Lauren is a Business Analytics Writer at Girls For Business.

Riya Desai

Riya Desai

Riya is a Business Education and Features Writer at Girls For Business.

Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.

© 2024 Girls For Business. All Rights Reserved.