Qualitea with Ms. Rebecca Kizito, Principal Standards Officer at UNBS

Joselyn B. Mwine sits down with Rebecca to chat about what is involved in editing and publishing standards

Rebecca, please share with our readers what you are responsible for in the Standards Development process

Ms. Rebecca: I am currently the Head of Publishing and Library Division under the Standards Department. In general, with a team of 5 others, I coordinate the activities related to provision of standards information and related resources, as well as the editing, publishing and sale of standards.

Do you have specialised training in the area of editing standards or does it come naturally to you?

Ms. Rebecca: Yes I do. I have had a number of trainings related to standards writing and editing over the years. Standards development is a unique process on its own and therefore requires specialized training in terms of language and the message to be conveyed to the user. The Technical officer handles technical aspects of the standard after which the role of the editor is to provide a “second eye” to the document. Remember that the users of the standards may not be technical and as a result, there is a necessity of ensuring fitness of the standards for use by availing a document that may be easily understood by users from all walks of life. Fitness for use, in this case, means ensuring correctness in terms of the structure of the standard, use of technical terms, units and language and basically determining that the purpose of the standard is well conveyed in the document or palatable for its user.

Please take us through the process a standard goes through when it reaches your desk.

Ms. Rebecca: Once a draft standard is sent for editing, I allocate it to an editor who does the first review after which I ensure that what is sent to the Technical officer is correct in terms of the structure of the standards, as well as the comments raised. During this review, I may also include additional comments previously not raised by the Editor. The Technical officer then has a series of interactions with the Editor to handle the comments raised, after which the standard is sent back to me for a final review to ensure that all comments have been handled and the rules governing standards writing have been followed. After this final review, the standard is now ready for approval as a national standard by the National Standards Council. Following the approval process, I handle the conversion of the final draft standard to a Uganda standard before submitting it to IRC for sale to the public.

If you were a technical committee member, what committee would you like to sit on and why?

Ms. Rebecca:  There are a number, but to narrow it down, it would probably be in the food and chemicals sectors as these are areas I am more conversant with in terms of my chemistry background. Aspects covered in these areas are interrelated as regards my background, and as such I would be comfortable in these. Looking at products from these sectors, which are all basically consumer products, and understanding and contributing to the technical aspects governing them through the technical committees, definitely would be satisfying.

With a position like yours it is quite difficult to imagine how you are able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. How do you do that given the demands of the office?

Ms. Rebecca: It all about prioritization. Yes we do develop work plans as a team which help guide in what needs to get done. At times, other assignments or situations do arise that may affect the work plan but having a dedicated team does help in such instances to be able to handle the workload.  Taking the necessary breaks, as and when necessary is also vital in ensuring that there’s a balance. I also do believe spiritual guidance as the best route in handling the balance between the two. Support from family and friends also works for me as it allows me to regroup where necessary.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work in terms of sports, and other extra-curricular activities?

Ms. Rebecca:  I do love to travel when possible, checking out new places in terms of cuisine, sights, etc.  With a lot of self-discipline (a lot!!!) I started going to the gym and I must say I have benefitted. Previously, I would do the simple exercises at home but irregularly so the purpose was not being achieved. However, with going to the gym, I made it a culture and it began to pay off. I am also regular in church for spiritual nourishment and fulfilment as a basic necessity.

What can’t you leave home without?

Ms. Rebecca: Ideally, saying a prayer as I need to get set for the day. I guess that money is a necessity!! Must amount to at least some form of transport to get me where I’m supposed to go or buy me something!

What is your preferred drink of choice? Tea or coffee?

Ms. Rebecca: Preferred drink is coffee although, lately, I have seriously cut back on it because of the health effects. But tea also works for me.

What is your guilty pleasure? It can be something, such as a type of food/ dessert, film, television programme, or piece of music that you enjoy despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.

Ms. Rebecca: Chocolate and I am seriously trying to wean myself off it! I do have a sweet tooth that has refused to go away but, it’s a work in progress.

Thank you so much for your time Rebecca and we appreciate the work that you do. We wish you well in your work and personal life.