Becoming a Program ManagerOctober 18, 2022
Ruvi believes we all have what it takes to make the world a better place and proudly advocates for what it takes to get there. As a poised public speaker, Ruvi passionately communicates her knowledge with others of all ages and backgrounds.
Ruvi is an expert at identifying opportunities in the realm of energy efficiency. She talks about the experiences she’s gained from working with youth and adults with disabilities and shares how this helps her to communicate the importance of strengthening sustainability efforts and behaviour for all.
Ruvi believes that guidance and encouragement go a long way in creating change for the better. As a Manager at Thinkwell Shift, Ruvi explains how she uses this approach to connect with her team and shares techniques and strategies that help her to put her team first.
With the trust of her manager Ruvis had been able to continuously develop and manage two programs on behalf of Efficiency Nova Scotia. One aimed to teach kids about energy efficiency, and the other to help adults save money on power bills.
Ruvi’s ability to speak is what she believes made her so successful. She shares her strategies and the importance of navigating life with curiosity and an open mind.
- Ruvi Mugara, Senior Program Manager, Thinkwell Shift, Nova Scotia
- Tseli Moshabesha, Project Manager, Efficiency Canada
Tseli: Ruvi believes we all have what it takes to make it in the world and make the world a better place, and she proudly advocates what it takes to get there. She’s an expert at identifying opportunities in the realm of energy efficiency.
She talks about the experiences she’s gained from working with youth and adults with disabilities and shares how this helps her communicate the importance of strengthening sustainability efforts and behavior for all. Ruvi currently works as a program manager at Thinkwell shift for Efficiency Nova Scotia programs.
She believes that guidance and encouragement can go a long way in creating change for the better. As a manager at Thinkwell Shift, Ruvi explains how she use this approach to connect with her team and shares techniques and strategies that help put her team first. Ruvi, I’m gonna give you a second or give you time to introduce yourself and thank you so much for joining us today.
Ruvi Mugara: Thank you Tseli and thank you Chloe for having me today. Like Tseli said, my name is Ruvi Mugara. If you’re listening and you’re like, What is that name? Never heard it before. I’m actually, originally from the country of Zimbabwe. If you know what it is, put your hands up in the chat or where you can talk to us, let us know that you know where Zimbabwe is. That’s where I was born and I grew up there and then I moved to Canada when I was 19 years old, so quite young. Decided that Canada was where I was going to go and I was very excited to go there, so I came here for university straight to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Prior to getting to Halifax, had never heard of it. Honestly, the only places I knew in Canada were Toronto and Vancouver. So when my dad was like, “You’re going to Halifax, Nova Scotia”, I was like, “That’s a real place! Okay, cool. I’m heading over there.” I headed over and I came to St. Mary’s University to do my undergrad in psychology with a minor in biology. When I came here to university, I actually had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I just knew I was coming to study like, all of us do. We kind of like school is the trajectory we’re on, you go to elementary school then high school and you’re like, “Okay, what else do I do now?” Most people encourage graduate or undergraduate education so at that point I was like, “I’ll take something that I would somehow enjoy and psychology was the thing for me.” When I actually came to Canada, my parents wanted me to do an engineering degree, but I just could not focus on it. I just couldn’t keep my head down. So psych was where I ended up doing, and I loved doing psychology. I loved the essays that were involved. I loved learning about the human mind, human behavior, looking at how we impact each other in the world. I just started falling in love with people. So after that happened, I graduated from SMU and I worked with adults with intellectual disabilities and that was like a good time in my life for me to figure out what I really wanted to do. So when I was working with adults with intellectual disabilities, as you might not know or you may know, it’s a hard job and a hard field to be in because you just don’t know what’s gonna happen, every single day is absolutely different, especially if you’re working within their home, their safe space. That is where they should come and feel comfortable and you’re walking into their space and being in the way but there to support them. So each day was very different because I had to learn how to support these individuals. I had to also learn to be an advocate for them and know when not to speak up for them because the misconception in life. If someone has an intellectual disability, let’s say they’re autistic or they have bipolar disorder, if we go out in the public with them, they will look directly at me because they know I’m a support staff.
So I had to learn in the six years that I was there, that sometimes I have to let them speak up for themselves so that people can start acknowledging that “Hey, they can also have a conversation with a regular person.” So with that, I started learning all these skills on human interaction and I was like; I am actually really good at being like a middle person and managing different situations.
When I had my son in 2017, I needed a career change. The work was 24 hours a day so at that point I was like, I can’t do shift work anymore. My son was born very early and due to that I had to start working like regular nine to five gigs so I could come home and support my son. So when that happened, I stumbled into energy efficiency. I went on Good Work. First of all, I didn’t even know what Good Work was prior to this happening, but someone was like,” Oh you should check out these jobs on Good Work. I think you would be passionate about it.” At that point, I knew that I liked working with people and I do care about the environment. I do care about the world we live in and that’s just because of my history, my background. Growing up in Africa, no matter what, you’re already taught to be a little more cautious with the resources that we have. So I knew that I cared enough about the world we live in to wanna do a better job in it and be passionate about it. When my life is over, I would like to say I did something great in the world. I went on Good Work and was looking for jobs, applied for so many, and I stumbled upon this company called Thinkwell Shift, applied as a Green school’s Engagement officer.
Basically what a Green School’s Engagement officer does is we go into schools and we talk to kids, so that’s the best part. You’re talking to kids from Grade primary all the way to Grade 12, sometimes to university students, depending on the workshop, about energy efficiency.
You know when I started it was still a bit of a new term. People were like;” What’s energy efficiency? What is that? What do you mean?” When you say energy efficiency to people, they’re like “Oh, you just me turning off the lights?” And I’m like: “Yeah, but there’s more and you need to know what else you could do. Turning off the lights is definitely number one but there’s so much more you could do to save energy. Talking to people about it and the schools were so exciting for me and I was fortunate enough to join a company that cared enough to help me progress at that point. My manager at the time was like, “You’re really good at being in a management role. How do you feel about being a coordinator? “Then I moved from coordinator to manager, then I basically started managing both programs through Efficiency Nova Scotia: Green Schools and the other one is called the Efficient Product Installation Service. With that one we talk to adults and we go into their homes and we help them reduce their energy consumption in their home by giving them some free products; something as simple as an LED light, all the way to even giving them a Nest thermostat or a MICA thermostat. Whatever we can give them, free courtesy of Efficiency Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Power, they’ve collaborated to do this and give people some free products just so we reduce our dependency on non-renewable energy.
I was really lucky to be able to do that and that’s how I ended up in this role. I really love it. I get to talk to both kids and adults. It’s very different, every day is unexpected. One minute you’re talking to someone who is super passionate about the world and the environment. They know everything, they’re solar panel level and the next day you’re talking to someone who’s like, “I don’t even know where to begin. I just want not have to pay a $500 power bill every month”, and you’re like; “Great, I can help you with that.” People’s reasons for being energy efficient are always different, but at the end of the day, the goal is the same. The goal is to reduce the carbon emissions, even though they might come into this with very different reasoning, we get to understand that that doesn’t matter. The point is they’re actually gonna do something to reduce the carbon emissions and in the end, Canada’s goal is gonna be met, which is hopefully 2050.
Tseli Moshabesha: Exactly. Thank you so much Ruvi. Thank you for taking us through your journey. You’ve had obviously lot of different career moves and I love the fact that you’re really holding on your skills of understanding people and how to communicate them and communicate the different parts about energy efficiency, about saving energy, everything like that. You mentioned a few things you love, for you, what is it that makes you proudest about your job?
Ruvi Mugara: I think it’s the feedback we receive from kids, teachers, and the customers we work with in the field. I’ve had some amazing stories where someone we would’ve visited two years ago will send an email and be like, “Listen, you guys came two years ago. You literally just wrap my hot water tank, give me a new shower head, and put in a few LED lights for me. Since then, I’ve been able to actually continue to live in my home. There was a point when I didn’t think I could afford to live here anymore. I was house poor, and now I can afford to live here.”
So these success stories are what motivate me to keep going. We’re actually helping people. Also behavior change aspect, because once someone tries something, they end up actually being able to try something else. You’re like, “Okay, now I know that I should turn off lights. What else can I do to save energy? “It’s a progression, once they start somewhere, they just progress. They don’t go backwards, they go forwards. That behavior change is what I’m really into. There’s this misconception that adults are really hard to work with, or there’s that whole thing: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I disagree a hundred percent. I think everyone can learn new tricks no matter how old you are and it is really good to talk to someone, let’s say 65 year old Brenda from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, who’s “Listen, I don’t know anything about anything but if you teach me, I’m willing to learn.” A few months later and she’ll be like, “Yeah, I’m doing all this now, I’ve told my neighbor this.” That’s what actually keeps me going!
Tseli Moshabesha: I love that. That’s really fun honestly, be able to have those like impactful stories and track people and everything. So I know a lot of people that are here today are curious about what it means to be a program manager, and I’m curious for you, what is a typical day in the life for you? I know you obviously manage two different programs, so I’m sure that they vary, but what’s a typical day for Ruvi?
Ruvi Mugara: So a day for me usually starts with salsa from right when I wake up. I wake up, my alarm goes off or one of my kids jumps on my face, which is just how motherhood is. When that happens, I get up and usually get ready for work. At that point I’m usually already getting emails or texts from my team, so the people I supervise, the people I manage. I have a field team that goes into the homes and does the work for our customers. They’re usually checking in like around eight o’clock; “Hey, just wanted you to know I’ve already tried to contact this customer. They’re unavailable today , it has to be rescheduled.” So I’m already getting a lot of information from the jump. When I get to the office, I usually sit and go through my emails. I just have to prioritize what needs to be looked at first. Lots of great different websites you can use for support: Monday.com is one of them, Slack is another. Whatever you use where you figure out how to prioritize your inbox because it can be overwhelming as a manager. Literally everyone is coming to you for direction or information. So I try to prioritize when I wake up, it doesn’t matter that I have 50 emails, I can get through them today. I just need to figure out which one I want to go through first and I figure out which one is best. I go from red to yellow. Once that’s done, I’m available to check in with my team. But it’s also about being able to manage expectations with the team. You should be able to call me whenever you need support, but also know that I’m not gonna just answer the phone right away because there’s other things happening. It’s being able to be supportive to the team, but getting them to understand that there are some boundaries around when I’m accessible.
For example, one of the things that my team knows is, shoot me a text, your text should be like, “Hey, can we chat?” SOS or something like that. And then if I respond right away Sure, I’ll call you or you can call me, then we can have a conversation. If it’s something that is an emergency, of course, if I’m in a meeting, of course, if I’m dealing with something else, you are my priority. I will walk out of that meeting and talk to you for a couple minutes and see who else can take over whatever’s happening. But if it’s not an emergency, then send me in an email, please, whatever it is, I need it in an email. So it’s a lot trying to direct people throughout the day and then also just trying to figure out a lot of different partnerships.
It’s so important when you’re a manager to continue to network. Who do you know? Who’s in your circle? Continue to grow your LinkedIn profile, continue to follow different people on LinkedIn, connect with people. That’s how you grow your network. Especially where I live in Nova Scotia, I’m far from BC, but doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to get to know someone in BC because we can cross-collaborate. I think that’s the one thing that my day is mostly, I’m networking on LinkedIn. My LinkedIn profile is always open and there’s no shame in having your LinkedIn profile open all day long because that’s the number one place people actually coming to check for you in the professional world, they’re not really checking for you on Facebook or Instagram. Sometimes I keep my notifications open there, so if I get a little ding, I’m like, “Oh, someone’s looking for me on LinkedIn.” It’s a great way to network, especially right now where a lot of us are now virtual. It’s a good way to network with people without having to go to an event or something like that and then at the same time, like I said, supporting the entire team whether it’s through the phone, whether I have to run out of the office real quick because someone has a flat tire and I have to go figure out how to help them with that. Whatever it is, I’m constantly just doing different things throughout the day and at the end of the day I sit down for 30 minutes and say, “Okay! What did Iaccomplish, what did I not manage to accomplish?,” and that should be my first priority tomorrow. So at the end of the day, you need to regroup and be” Okay, I did this and this, but I still didn’t manage to do this and then shut down your computer. It is hard as a program manager to detach yourself and end your work day. It always feels like you’re working all the time but sometime it’s important to have a good work life balance and just cut it off here for today and be done with it and focus on yourself.
Tseli Moshabesha: You mentioned like the need set those boundaries and cap your day at a certain point. How do you inspire your team to do the same? What’s your strategy as a manager to get your team to also feel comfortable to end their day at a certain time?
Ruvi Mugara: I constantly remind them about their mental health, it’s important. They’re not beneficial to our company if their mental health isn’t great, if they’re not in a good place mentally, they’re not benefiting us in any way and what happens a lot is a lot of people don’t actually realize that the number one reason we’re stressed a lot is finances or when work is really stressful.
If that’s the case, then I always encourage my teammates to end your day early today. Sometimes I’ll get a call from one of my teammates and they’re like,” Oh, I walked into this home and this customer was very upset about this and I didn’t do well, and I’m really upset right now. I’m not in a good place.” I’ll be like,” Are you in a safe spot? Are you not driving while you’re talking to me?”
” Yes. I’ve pulled over.”
“Okay. Do you just need to talk him through?” We’ll talk for 20 minutes, but if I feel after 20 minutes they are still in a place of anxiety, at that point I’m like, “Okay, I actually think we’re gonna cancel the rest of your day and you need to go home. You do what’s best for you.”
It’s constantly reminding people to have that work life balance and take those breaks. Then also reminding them to check in with other people, because a lot of my workers are remote. They’re by themselves a lot and you are entering into homes you don’t even know these people half the time, so it’s constantly checking in just because you are working alone remotely doesn’t mean you have to be alone. We now live in a global world that is completely accessible. Tech is number one, so text me, call me, text your coworker, check in. I believe in virtual coffee dates. If someone needs a virtual coffee date with their coworker, send them a message: “Do you wanna have a coffee at 10?”
Tseli Moshabesha: Absolutely agree with you on that. Okay, so I love how you share about how you’re able to motivate your team and make sure that they take care of themselves. I’m curious about generally, in your career who really helped or impacted you on your career journey? and that can be either mentors, believers, or haters.
Ruvi Mugara: Yeah, I think I have one of each. Mentors would be my father. My father is an entrepreneur. My dad started a business back in Zimbabwe in an industry that is very much government owned. So my dad has a diamond polishing company and in my country, it’s not a democratic country, so the government owns everything good, anything resource, they want it. My dad had to work really hard to get his name out there. Watching him just work as hard as he did, he was my mentor. When I started getting into working in positions of leadership, I would reach out to him, even though he’s all the way back in Africa and be like, “Okay, I’m dealing with this situation, how would you deal with it?” He has very good HR skills, so he was able to help me out with that.
Haters, mostly just people who don’t think women should be in positions of power. I find even though it’s 2022, some people are still living in 2009, or even pre 2009, maybe 1999. Canadians are nice, so they’re not like rude. They’re not in your face about it, but they say snide remark. “Oh, are you who I should be dealing with? Yes. It’s me. Who do you think you should be dealing with?” So it’s constantly having to check people who are trying to have these really undermining conversations. I do find that it’s actually more women than men who are shocked that it’s a woman talking to them. I find that has really pushed me and I’ve learned to not take it to offense a hundred percent. I’m always like, “Okay I understand your thoughts on it. I understand how you feel and it’s really good to never ever take things personally.” Some people are really stuck in their ways. You don’t ever know what someone’s background is like, what they’ve dealt with two minutes ago, so it’s good to always check myself and be like, Don’t come from a place of anger, you have no idea what this person did before they called or before they came into the office. Like you have no idea what their life is and to always respond in a place of kindness, it’s not always easy, I’m not gonna lie, it’s not always easy but that motivates me to be like, “Okay, I struggled with that situation over there. I felt lots of anger.” If I find that I keep thinking about something over and over again, I know that it’s really affected me.” At that point, I like writing things down. I write things down every time. I try to write down different scenarios of the conversation and be like, “Okay this is a learning for me next time, this is how I’ll try to have this conversation if it ever happens again.” That helps me learn how to deal with people in a management role, whoever it is that I’m talking to, I always have to see what part I played in a conversation that didn’t work out.
Tseli Moshabesha: I love that, doing self-assessment and making sure that you’re seeing the other person’s side of things and why things might have gone otherwise. I love that. I’m curious about this thing you touched on about sometimes having a lot of women be surprised that you are the go-to person. Do you feel like any part of that might be the fact that the energy efficiency sector is so male dominated that they’re used to dealing with a man in those kind of things they call you guys for?
Ruvi Mugara: I think a hundred percent. I know when I became the manager of specifically the Efficient Product Installation Service, we’re dealing with a lot of people in rural Nova Scotia. They’re used to fishing areas, coal mining areas so they’re used to dealing mostly with men. When they’re talking to a woman, they say,” Oh, I’d like to talk to your manager, please. “And they transfer the call and ends up being a woman, it throws some people off cause they’re like, “Wait a minute. I’m so confused.” The industry is predominantly male but there’s lots of women starting to pop up. There are some people who get really excited to talk to women.
I find we live in a microwave society that needs the correct answer from the correct person. Everything is fast, it does get challenging. That would be the reason is I think it’s just there’s way more men in this industry than women.
Tseli Moshabesha: Curious follow up on that, are there support systems that you found for yourself with other women that are in the same field as you and other women that are program managers, for example? Or do you feel like it’s still very difficult cause there’s so few of you?
Ruvi Mugara: I think there’s lots of women now in the industry. Like I said, having a LinkedIn profile and just literally checking what my interests are is so good because then, people will reach out to me or LinkedIn will suggest someone and be like, “This person could be in your network.” I think that’s been very helpful because I’ve been able to start learning from different women who are doing different things, from people who I’ve gotten connections through the NSCC who are teaching about solar or teaching about how to do a blower test or whatever it is.
So I’m talking to different women all the time, all across Canada in these positions. I think I’ve been lucky enough to just always have this sort of like network since I’ve joined. The president of our organization is a woman, so she knows way more women. She’s been in the industry longer, so she introduces me to different people, which has been fantastic. I think if it was a little different and my president had been male, I think I would have less connections just because it is who you know in this industry and so I feel like I’ve been really lucky to just be surrounded by women.
Tseli Moshabesha: Okay. Awesome. That’s really great and that’s really encouraging for the future of the sector moving forward. And so my question to you is, what is one thing that you’d want someone outside of the energy efficiency sector to know
about your work?
Ruvi Mugara: I would say one thing you need to know about this type of work is it’s very rewarding. I know when people speak about energy efficiency, they only think about the stats and the numbers and the zero emissions. When they hear energy efficiency, they’re just thinking federal government stuff about it, but not really considering just how rewarding the career can be.
It’s still quite a young industry to be part of, which means it’s a growing industry to be part of, which means you can grow with it, and because you can grow with it, your career can grow with it. So if you are worried about the job being not as much pay as, for example, working in an oil industry, just know that as time moves and Canada is moving towards a Net Zero economy, we might actually be able to make the money, if that’s what you’re pursuing. People are the number one resource we have across the world. The only thing we all have in common is each other. The only thing we have in common across the globe is each other. We all look the same, sound the same, we all have the same body parts, so we’re all the same. So imagine just how many people you’re gonna work with in an energy efficiency . It’s so good because as we are learning ourselves all about it, we’re also passing on the learning to other people through teaching, which then helps the industry grow and grow. So I think it’s so rewarding and if people are like, “I’m not really sure what I’ll get from it.” For sure. It’s all the human connections. It’s people. Like I said, people calling you and being like, “You’ve changed my life with just helping me.” Whether you help them install solar panels or you help them insulate their home, you are actually helping someone change their life through something that’s actually not talked about a lot.
It’s so hard, a lot of people are struggling to stay in their homes because they cannot afford the heat in Canada. We use a lot of energy to heat up our homes, that’s what we’re known for. We’re a cold country, so we are heating up our homes majority of the year. With energy efficiency, we’re actually able to take some of that money and use it towards other ways of keeping our houses.
Tseli Moshabesha: That’s true and so I’m sure people are wondering in terms of working in the sector, are there any certifications that you’d recommend or any training programs for people to better understand what they could do in the sector if they were to aspire, for example, to be program manager?
Ruvi Mugara: For sure. There is a program manager certification that you can take. I think it’s a year course or so across Canada. Literally, you just do it online. Most universities and colleges offer it. It is a year long course, and it can help you to just have that certification and say you have it.
Another thing is if you ever look to your right side of your panel on LinkedIn, they have courses. They have all these different day long courses that then get added to your LinkedIn resume and you get certified on them. So it’s like a little course. You watch different videos, some are five minutes, some are 10 minutes, some are 20 minutes, and most of them take about max eight hours and then you’re done. You get certified and it comes onto your profile.
You do have to pay for these courses of course. But it’s so helpful if you’re just looking to have more stuff on your resume to help you get into like program managerial field. Obviously there are some program managers that have to have an engineering background as well because you do need to go on site and be able to know who the heck you’re managing.
So it depends specifically on the role or the organization that you’re joining. But I would say having an HR course is also good. My university, St. Mary’s University had a HR certificate or Human Resources certificate. It does help because in a program manager role, you do end up dealing with a lot of HR stuff. Having some sort of HR certification helps with that, just so you know how to protect yourself, protect your organization, and still protect the staff member because people can really take things to a whole different level if you’re not careful.
One tip I do have is go LinkedIn, look at those courses. There’s so many, and every time you do one, they suggest another. They obviously wanna make money, but every time you do one, they suggest another and it’s just up to you. If you just type in program manager courses on LinkedIn, like over a thousand pop up, and you just pick and choose which one works for you and what you’re looking to do.
Tseli Moshabesha: Awesome. Thank you so much Ruvi, and hopefully we’ll shout you out to LinkedIn to be influencer. I think we talked a lot about the role itself, but what do you think is your I wanna
say your secret sauce, but if you tell us it won’t be your secret sauce, but what do you feel like is the secret skill or what has helped you be so successful in your role and in this industry?
Ruvi Mugara: I think for me it’s I’m passionate about people. I love people and I know people can be frustrating and I know people can get on your nerves and some days you just don’t really wanna talk to anybody. I think I’m an introverted extrovert. I like to be by myself majority of the time but when I’m around people, I’m definitely an extrovert. You can tell that I enjoy being around people, but doesn’t mean I wanna be around people all the time. I also want my personal time. I think just because I care so much about people, it resonates in my role, it resonates in my career, it resonates with clients. When I’m talking to clients, they’re like, “okay, she actually cares about this role. She cares about the people she’s working with.” I’m not pretending because I genuinely believe that people are so important and that’s the reason we are where we are today.
So I think that would be my secret sauce, I just really care about people. Like I said, not every day is easy. Some people just genuinely suck and so sometimes you’re gonna talk to people who are not great and you just brush it off your shoulder. Like I said, sometimes you have to remind yourself, I have no idea where this person is coming from in terms of what situations have led to them being like an asshole today. So sometimes you just gotta brush it off your shoulders and be like it’s not me. This lady don’t even know me, and she just yelled at me for no reason. It’s not my problem. I don’t know what happened. Maybe she’s having a bad day, like we don’t know.
So it’s just understanding that some people maybe are not having a good day, respecting it and not feeling like you need to engage in the conversation of,” Oh, do you need any help? Could I help you with this?” That seems fake and I think that’s where a lot of people fail because then you’re always trying too hard to seem overly concerned when you really don’t care. Whatever relationship we’re trying to work with at that time, that’s what’s important to me. Are we building something? Are we networking about a potential partnership? That’s what I’m caring about. I don’t really need to know the background of who they are and why they’re here.
Tseli Moshabesha: Exactly. You’re trying to keep it authentic to the goal of that interaction and make sure that you’re not going too far out there. And so my other question for you is, how do you see yourself evolving within your industry?
Ruvi Mugara: I think within this industry specifically, I see myself evolving into a role of a more director-ish role. I enjoy managing people a lot, but I also want to be the one who sign the paychecks. I kind of wanna have a bigger role and also the one who makes decisions on contracts. I find when you’re a program manager, you still have someone you report to and they make the decisions. You know what I mean? And I’m sure everyone in the chat is like, or in the room is like, “Yeah, I got somebody I gotta report to every single day.”
So I just want to be in a position where I can make a lot more decisions and because I do think I have a great mindset about it, and I think also the people at the top in this industry are stuck in their ways. It’ll be nice to kinda boot them out, like just phase them out so that new ideas can come into place and new thoughts can come into place. I find once someone has been in a role for like 10, 15, 20 years, they get really stuck in their ways. I know I get stuck in my ways. I’ve only been in this role for four years and I’m still sometimes someone will come to me and be like,” I think we should do this.” And I’m like,” we’ve been doing it like this for a while and it works.”
I feel like it’s always good to evolve and even for the higher ups to also evolve and let new meat in that also has new ideas and can help the sustainability sector in Canada because we’re going in the right direction, but there’s some people at the top who are holding us back from getting where we need.
Tseli Moshabesha: Absolutely. I definitely see that on my end as well. So I love that. I love that your aspiration is to get there and be one of the change makers moving forward. So just let everyone know we’re almost out of time, so I gonna ask you two final questions, Ruvi, and then catch a breather. So my second to last question is what advice do you have for aspiring program managers?
Ruvi Mugara: I would say the number one thing I can tell aspiring program managers is to learn how to communicate well, communication is key as a program manager. You wanna make sure nothing is taken out of context at all. Because like I said, you’re kind of a middle person. You’re constantly working with clients, you’re constantly working with customers. You’re the one in the middle. Learning how to communicate and learning how to communicate via email because we are in a world of constantly communicating via messages and anything written can be misconstrued because people read it in their own tone. You might mean it in one tone, but the way they’re gonna read it is that was full of attitude even if you didn’t have any attitude in it, so constantly learning how to communicate.
There’s so many tutorials from different people, TED talks where people are teaching you how to speak and how to make sure that your message is taken well, and also how to make a big thing become just bullet points, because sometimes an email becomes a ramble. Even saying something like, in the email subject line saying “Response Required”, It’s so important because if you don’t say that, someone’s gonna read your email and be like, “Okay, bye.”
Because you didn’t ask for a response, so some people are like, “Honestly, you didn’t ask me for a response. I didn’t think you needed me to respond. If it’s not a response required, but I do want some sort of interaction and I’ll say something like, “Opinions are important or something like that.”
And then also learning regular email etiquette: how to BCC people, how to CC, when to CC people, when to BCC people, when to “To” a person. All that stuff is very important for program managers cause a lot of time you’re spending just communicating.
It’s a lot of communicating, so it’s good to learn how to do that. Even conversations via text cause some of our conversations are informal. If shit hit the fan, then you probably never wanna delete that text chain, screenshot it.
I had to learn the hard way. We dealt with quite a difficult situation one time where one of our staff was accusing us of hurting themselves on the job and saying that they had confided in me when it happened, which I had no idea. So I knew I had all these text conversations where they never brought it up.
So it’s good to take any situation where you’re like, I’m not really sure how this is gonna end up. You can always tell with the interactions you have with a certain staff member if they’re going to be a little bit of an issue, then just protect yourself, protect the company that you work for, and protect your clients as well. So it’s very important to just learn how to communicate in this.
Tseli Moshabesha: Awesome. Thank you so much, Ruvi. And so my final question is just where can people find you and learn from you? I know you mentioned LinkedIn, but are you comfortable with people reaching out on social media, on email? What do you prefer?
Ruvi Mugara: I say both. Like I’m fine with people reaching out to me on social media. My LinkedIn is just Ruvi Mugara, and then my email, it’s Ruvi@thinkwellshift.ca. That’s pretty much how you can access me. I do check my messages quite often, I love to network and learn about what other people are doing across the globe and what your organization is doing and how we could potentially collaborate because Thinkwell Shift is a pretty small organization and we’re growing and it will be nice to grow with the rest of the industry and see where we end up 15 years from now.