Employee Highlight: Meet Isaac Rugamba Rutagwenda

Isaac Rugamba Rutagwenda is a Resource Mobilization Manager at the Development Bank of Rwanda. He recently attended his graduation ceremony at SOAS, where he completed his studies back in 2020 with an MSc in Public Policy, Finance, and Management. We asked Isaac about his career at BRD, his hobbies, and his work-life balance.

We'd love to hear about your time at SOAS University. How have the skills and knowledge you gained there contributed to your personal growth?

I was grateful to have been awarded the Chevening Scholarship which enabled me to pursue my masters in the UK. SOAS University is a unique institution. Its teaching has a specific focus on the global south which is not the case in most universities in the West.

The makeup of my cohort was also a bonus. In a class of about 15 people, there were around 13 nationalities with all my classmates bringing with them valuable things to learn from their countries and through their experiences which greatly contributed to my appreciation of diversity.

Transitioning from university to a professional setting can be significant. Can you share how you navigated this shift?

One thing about life is that change is constant. But the best way to prepare for change is to stay teachable and open to learning new things. That is how I managed to navigate the shift. Another thing that could help one in this transition is identifying a mentor early on in their career. Someone you can go to for guidance and who can provide you with necessary support throughout your career. I wouldn’t personally narrow it down to one specific individual, but I have been lucky enough to have worked with some of the best managers during my time at The Ministry of Finance, at Vanguard Economics and now at BRD. In each of these places I have worked I have had supportive bosses, that taught me most of what I know today.

Personal goals often evolve over time. Can you tell us about the goals you set at the beginning of your career and how they've changed?

I would not say mine have changed. Perhaps they have become more refined. I have always been interested in development and finance. That has not changed but has evolved because I now have a better sense of where I can contribute and add value in this large and complex field of work.

We all face challenges that shape us. Can you share an instance from your career, perhaps at BRD or elsewhere, that has significantly contributed to your growth?

A challenge can either be exciting or daunting. I will highlight an exciting challenge that we are currently pursuing. We are designing an exciting product, the first of its kind in the region. It is challenging in the sense that we are going into new territory. It is a great teaching moment for the whole team, and we look forward to sharing these learnings with the wider financial sector industry.

Speaking of your team, BRD is known for its supportive environment. How has this helped you align your role here with your long-term career goals?

The leadership is extremely supportive. There is an open-door policy that allows for us to be able to seek guidance and support as we work. We also have a culture of innovation where we are not afraid to try new ways of doing things. Whether it is in climate finance, affordable housing or even carbon trading we are always trying to do things differently, and better. This can only happen in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Balancing personal life and career can be a tightrope walk. How do you achieve this balance, and are there any significant factors that have played a part in it?

It must be a deliberate effort. Your personal life is as important as your career life. Taking care of your personal life can positively affect your career. I enjoy sports and music. So, I use my free time to pursue these hobbies. I find it relaxing and re-energizing.

Looking forward, where do you envision your career and personal growth path leading you, and would you share some of the steps you're taking to realize these aspirations?

I envision my career path leading me deeper into the world of development and finance. Currently, I intend to pursue a few professional courses to prepare me for the next step in this journey. As for my personal growth, you can never be overdressed or over-educated. So, I am always open to pursuing further studies. I am perhaps more interested in professional courses. So that is probably what is coming next.

Work-life balance? It must be a deliberate effort. Your personal life is as important as your career life. Taking care of your personal life can positively affect your career.