Welcome back to yet another edition of the Encounter, a column that profiles people’s experiences and achievements. In this edition of the Encounter we bring you a chat with the Director of Corporate Services at the Gambia Competition Commission. So read to find out who this gentle man is.
GN - Sir can you please introduce yourself to our dear readers?
ABJ - My name is Alhagie Babucarr Jabang. I am currently working at the Gambia Competition Commission as the Director of Corporate Services. I was born in Brikama in the West Coast Region and was brought up at Serrekunda. I was later taken to Sierra Leone to join my father where he was engaged in business. Seven years later, we returned to Gambia and I started my schooling. My mother was a house wife and my father a tailor, so I grew up under moderate conditions where everyone was expected to contribute towards the family’s upkeep. I am married and blessed with children.
GN- Can you please elaborate on your educational background?
ABJ - Upon my return from Sierra Leon in 1974, I was sent to Sukuta Primary School. After completing my primary education in 1980, I got entry to Armitage High School in Georgetown, present day Janjang Bureh in the Central River Region where I sat to the GCE ‘O’ Level Certificate Examination in 1985. I sat to a teacher’s examination at Action-Aid The Gambia and obtained very good results and was later employed by the organization as a teacher at Gifarong village in Kiang West District. I taught for two years as a class teacher and was later promoted to head the school. During that period, I was able to transform the school and I am proud to say that today, I have a lot of my students who are holding very good positions in Government and NGOs and some of them are even married.
When I left the teaching field in 1989, I joined the Customs and Excise as a young officer. I spent 18 years working at the Customs and Excise. I came to realize that having only “O” Levels will not offer me a good career, I decided to build my capacity and proceeded to further my education. Today, I am a Chartered Accountant and since 2008, I have been a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. I have more than ten years’ experience in accounting administration, Human Resources Management and Information Technology. I have also served more than five years at senior level within the central government and public institutions as well as more than 25 years as a social worker - travelling and implementing development projects in urban as well as rural areas. I have also successfully participated in community driven projects implemented through a World Bank funding as Financial Controller and was at one time the Technical Adviser to the West Coast Region Local Government Authority where I coordinated audits at corporate and institutional levels as well as prepare audit packs submitted to external auditors prior to commencement of audit exercises.
I also have a very strong background and competency-based human resource management from the ITCILO in Turin, Italy where I served in different senior management positions as financial management specialist, head of accounts and other corporate services units. I also pursued courses in the United Kingdom in a college called London College of Accountancy and am still pursuing a Professional Career Development and Research in Current Accounting issues
GN- Who was your mentor when you were young?
ABJ - My mentor was a childhood friend and a class mate. We went to school together from primary one to form five and his name is Abdoulie Barry. Mr Barry was so intelligent and anytime we sat to class exams, either I or he will come out first. I knew that if I used Abdoulie as my mentor, I will surely succeed. Mr Barry was very lucky to have had continuous education because when we graduated from Armitage, I went into the teaching field but he proceeded to Gambia High School to attend sixth form. I was late to enroll for sixth form because I started teaching even before the “O” Level results were out. After completing his sixth form, Barry went to the UK and he was among the first Gambians to obtain ACCA. He was one time head of Finance & Procurement at MRC Gambia and now he has an international appointment. Also, I decided to choose Barry as my mentor because he was my competitor in school and he advised me to stop everything I was doing and concentrate on how to further my education which I actually did and he contributed a lot towards financing my education. I can safely say today that whatever I have achieved, he has contributed to it.
GN - Tell us about your achievements
ABJ - One of my biggest achievement was being employed as a teacher because I always imagined if I could be a good teacher; and it turned out that I was a good teacher. I also made other achievements in terms of my education which I never thought of before. I’ve got a lots of certificates - in 1990, I attended Crown Agents Induction Certificate on Customs & Excise/Security, from 2000 to 2001, I Completed ACCA Accounting Technician, and in 2002 ADF Capacity Building Project - Certificates in Project Management & Accounting, Aid & Debt Management, in 2007 I had EPICOR Based Training (version 7.3.5) in Integrated Financial Management Information System (End User and Financial Applications Administrator) on the following Modules: Concept of Information Technology using a computer and managing file Spreadsheet Financial Accounting, using EPICOR computerized accounting System Active Planner- Budgeting and Planning Tools (Computerized). I also sat to WAIFEM online exams on Domestic Debt Management and did an End user Training on TOMPRO Computerized Accounting Software, (World Bank Customized Reports). I also have a certificate in Specialized Report Writing Skills and Presentation Techniques, Certificate in Public Financial Management, Budgeting, Planning and Performance, certificate in Implementing Competency Based Human Resource Management: Job description, Recruitment & Selection, Performance Appraisal and Certification.
GN - Can you please share with us some of your job experiences.
ABJ - In 1985 to 2006 I worked as Customs Office and later in 2006, I moved to Gambia Revenue Authority as a Financial Application & Systems Administrator up to 2007. I later worked for an ADB/World Bank-funded project as a Financial Comptroller for the Community Driven Development Project in 2008. I also employed as the Manager/Acting Director Finance and Administration-Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zones Agency, a World Bank Funded Gateway Project from 2009 to July 2010 and from 2010 to date, I’ve been working for The Gambia Competition Commission as Director of Corporate Services.
GN - Could you share with us your happiest moment in life
ABJ - One of my happiest moment was when I got another level of education higher from my ‘O’ levels certificate. Another happy moment was in December 2008 when I received a professional certificate of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, UK which meant I could apply for ACCA and eventually became a member on June 30, 2009 after completing the Professional Exams Levels I, II & III from 2001- Dec. 2008.
GN- What are some of the challenges you have faced in life?
ABJ - I had problems in financing my education but I was fortunate to have good friends and good relatives and with a lot of sacrifice, I was able to support my education. I have to thank my family, especially my wife and children for their understanding. I usually spent a lot time reading attending classes but nonetheless, they all understood that I was doing was for my success.
GN - Any secret to your success?
ABJ - I just have to thank God giving me the strength to overcome challenges and live up to expectation. The secret is that I always that maintain high level of honesty, seriousness. I had no time for parties and I always take things seriously which has made me who I am today.
GN - You don’t mind telling us your age sir?
ABJ - I will surprise you because when I meet with a lot of people and tell them I am 45 years old, they look at me and say that is not possible. Some say I look younger than my age and ask me to tell them the secret behind it. I always tell them that it’s a gift from God although I exercise a lot, watch my diet as well as eat healthy food.
GN - When was your proudest moment in life?
Mr. Jabang - That’s a very important question; my proudest moment was the day I started to work and supporting my family. I am proud of that because at a very young age, I had a lot of responsibility. After working for two years, I asked my father to stop work and I became fully responsible for the upkeep of the family – From that time to date, God has supported me to take care of my entire family. The other proud moment was the day I got married and got my first daughter who is presently in the UK.
GN - How did you feel when you were appointed as Director of Corporate Services?
ABJ - It is a challenge. I have always wanted to rise to a very high level. I have been eyeing such position although you cannot get them without the necessary qualification. I have tried hard to build my capacity and that has given me the opportunity to achieve such a position. I feel happy because I think that I deserve it. This position is not something that came my way but is something I did worked for; I sacrificed a lot for my education. I took my job seriously because I believe that are many other people who want it, and I was lucky to have it so I must live up to expectation.
GN - What are your hobbies?
ABJ - My hobbies include reading. I will encourage the young ones to spend a lot of time reading. If you read you learn a lot and that’s why I cherish reading. I also like to exercise and chat with my family.
GN - What advice do you have for young people who want to excel in life like you?
ABJ – Actually, we live in this generation that is full of distractions. I’ll advise young people to make sacrifices and put their education above everything else. Let them avoid going to nightclubs and social activities. They should be friends with their books and pens because this can contribute in transforming them to be successful tomorrow. With the advent of the University of the Gambia, there will be more people graduating and in the near future, getting employment will be very difficult. There will come a time when people will go in for the best and if anybody wants to be part of the best of the best, they should start building the foundation now in terms of education.
GN – Your final words
ABJ - I will conclude by appealing to young people to listen to the advice of their parents. Their generation is full of challenges so let them take their education seriously. Fatou, to be honest this column is very interesting and I believe young people will learn from inspiring people, role models so I will like to say thanks to all staff of The Gambia Now.
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