PERSON OF THE WEEK: Meet Yusuf Wasswa, Bata Awards Winner

Bata World News interviewed Yusuf Wasswa, Group project coordinator of e-commerce and the Bata Club for Africa and store operations manager at Bata Kenya. He was eager to share the story behind the mobile app he worked on with his team at China Footwear Services, and is looking forward to discussing it further with his fellow Bata Awards winners soon in Canada.

How long have you been with Bata?

This is my sixth anniversary in Bata. I started my journey with the organization in April 2010.

I have known Bata since childhood, and, considering myself an innovator, I had always loved the idea of working for an organization that is leading the future of the industry not only in the production and design of new styles, but also the creation of business models that permit a quick response to dynamic global and emerging markets. Bata has given me this opportunity to make that difference!

What has been the highlight of your Bata career so far?

There have been a number of highlights in my Bata career. One that stands out, though, is my 2014 selection and transfer to China, to China Footwear Services, as Group product coordinator for Africa. This role was mainly to coordinate price formulations, product design, product selection and product development that best fit the African market. It was also to improve communications as well as bridge the gap between different suppliers and the African companies.

During this period, together with the CFS team, we made numerous operational changes, including the launch of the Bata Procurement System and the BPS mobile app, which has to date significantly improved the supply chain networks of CFS and individual companies, improving buyer lead time placement of orders and real time tracking of their orders.

What do you credit for your success?

My success has to be most accredited to attributes such as continuous learning and training, sharing ideas, flexibility, hard work, sacrifice, passion and, above all, working in an environment of self-reliance and self-motivation.

At Bata, I am very fortunate and lucky to work with a vibrant, experienced and ambitious team of people from different parts of the globe. The ability to integrate and work with this set of people from different countries with different cultures, backgrounds, education and aspirations has made me learn a lot and adapt new ideologies that have become part of my day-to-day operating model.

Your BPS mobile app project has been named the winner of the 2015 Bata Awards in the "Count on Me" category. How does it feel?

I’m humbled and extremely excited that what started as an idea is now a reality and, most importantly, a key working tool for all buyers, helping them achieve their quarterly KPIs [key performance indicators].

I want to thank and extend my sincere gratitude to Mr. [Simon] Tidball, Mr. Gary [Yee], the entire CFS team, my fellow Group product coordinators, and, above all, Mr. [Roberto] Longo for initiating, giving us the necessary support and cooperation, and believing in this outstanding project from the initial stages to the final stages of launch and use.

What does "Count on Me" mean to you?

Taking the lead and leading by example. I personally value accountability, responsibility and the courage to change, with the ultimate drive of achieving desired goals and results. As part of the Bata Core Values, "Count on Me" is one of the important key values in my current roles.

What about the BPS mobile app project do you think won over the panel of judges and then your colleagues around the world who voted for it?

With no doubt, the BPS mobile app has received tremendous acknowledgement and overwhelming ratings from all buyers and executives across the entire Bata family. This is mainly attributable to the efficiency and effectiveness the app brings with it. The BPS mobile app was mainly introduced to improve the working environment of buyers and link up all buyer-related processes right from the selection stages to the final stages of receiving the orders, each buyer having 100 percent of the information on their mobile phone with just a tap of a button! This was the ultimate goal in developing this app.

This was a team project. What was your contribution?

I am extremely privileged and proud to have been chosen to lead the group of people behind the success of this project. Leading, mobilizing, coordinating and organizing the team, right from the technical team, the buyers from different countries and the GPCs. I must thank everyone who was part and dearly contributed every single minute to seeing this project through.

What was the biggest challenge to completing the project, and how was it resolved?

"Change management" was our biggest challenge, especially regarding some end users. It took some time for most users to understand, appreciate and adapt to these new changes and what the app would bring with it.

Constant training country by country, and remotely conducted training, played a pivotal role in ensuring that the users understood and embraced innovation and technology in their day-to-day activities to compete favorably in this dynamic market of constant innovation, with the ultimate goal of customer retention and satisfaction.

When did you realize the project was going to be such a success?

At the first phase of the testing stage. The app went live with a sample of four countries, one each from the different regions worldwide – Latam, Asia-Pacific, South Asia and Africa – using the mobile app real-time during the fourth-quarter 2015 SRM [Shoeline Review Meeting] to select, commit and place their quarterly buys. The outcome and success rate of this exercise was more than 80 percent, which was a clear indication to me that this project was bound to succeed.

Are you looking forward to your upcoming trip to Toronto, Canada?

In my five years with Bata, I have had the opportunity to travel across the globe many, many times. But this specific one to Toronto is a special one to me, and I look forward to an amazing trip to meet the Compass Board and present to them my project and the impact of this project on the overall performance of individual BSO [Bata Shoe Organization] companies.

The fact that I will be constantly meeting different people from different cultures means this opportunity also not only gives me room to share my work with other award winners but also to learn more from them. And finally, I can’t wait to visit the Bata Shoe Museum for the first time and appreciate the great work and legacy left by our forefathers.