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The ‘Beer Man’ bows out

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The 'Beer Man' bows out
MR KBL: Mokoro Ketsitlile

Despite originally gaining prominence as DJ Buff Rock, when his energy and skills on the decks won him a legion of fans, Mokoro Ketsitilile is best known for his current role – as the face of Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL).

It is a role that, after seven and a half eventful years, came to an end on Tuesday.

The Voice’s SHARON MATHALA caught up with the corporate communications manager on his last day at KBL, delving into his past, reflecting on his present before focusing on his future.

Q. This must feel like the end of an era for you?

A. I have been with this company for the past seven and half years.

I joined in February 2010 when I assumed the role of corporate communications manager.

Today, as you can imagine, is a very emotional day for me!

Q. I’m sure it is! Are you in a position to tell our readers about your next career move?

A. I have not made this public yet but I guess The Voice readers deserve to know – I am joining Letshego Holdings Limited, as head of group sustainability and stakeholder relations.

Q. Why did you decide to leave?

A. It is purely for the challenge and growth that the new opportunity at Letshego offered me and a chance to add value to one of Botswana most dynamic and Pan-African companies.

I know that because the company is now merging from KBL to AB InBev it may seem as if they were outside forces involved but that is not the case.

I have enjoyed my time here and I have grown with the company.

Q. It is no secret, however, that there have been job losses within KBL!

A. The new management obviously comes in with a different model from that of KBL; they worked from a decentralised model.

It’s a whole culture change within the company – that is why sometimes people perceived it differently.

Q. How will the merger of KBL and AB InBev benefit its Motswana customers?

A. They come with a lot of positives; most importantly they have more than 200 brands.

There are a lot of brands that will be coming to Botswana – international brands, which are really doing big in the world.

They also come with their own way of helping the communities and empowering people.

With their business philosophy, I am sure they will be of great benefit to Batswana.

Q. You joined the company at its most difficult time, financially. Can you explain what it was like becoming the face of a business that was negatively affected by the alcohol regulations introduced back then?

A. I came into a depressed company. I saw very little prospects of promotion due to the fact that the company was in pain, financially.

But the business has really tried to stick it out and we had to put up a brave fight against the odds.

Q. By ‘odds’ I presume you mean the introduction of the alcohol levy and reduced trading hours – would you say that was KBL’s biggest challenge?

A. It has been one of the major challenges for the business and undeniably for the industry.

We were a market leader and things changed because of the laws but we have somehow managed to catch up.

Q. KBL ran a vigorous campaign on Ikgalemele highlighting the importance of drinking responsibly. However, some saw it as hypocritical, considering the company produces the alcoholic drink in the first place! Your thoughts?

A. It was one of the most exciting campaigns we have had! Look, our belief is that as much as our business is based on alcohol, we also encourage responsible drinking.

At the time we had high statistics of road fatalities and other social ills associated with alcohol.

We took it upon ourselves to go on a countrywide tour and put a lot of effort and money into that campaign.

As the years have gone by, I am happy to say they has been a notable reduction in the social ills attributed to alcohol and binge drinking.

Q. Why was it important for KBL to launch the Ikgalemele Responsibility Program

A. Firstly, we felt that many social programmes tended to be too preachy, ignoring the inherent choice that people often tend to exercise and therefore limited in their ability to effectively influence behaviour change.

Ikgalemele is different as it places the question, the responsivity and the action squarely on the individual and it can be targeted to different harmful drinking patterns.

At the time we had very high statistics of road fatalities and other social ills associated with alcohol.

Q. There is a general believe that Botswana tops the list of African countries that indulge excessively in the ‘holy waters’.

As the face of the company that actually produces and sells alcohol, what is your view on this?

A. To be honest I have not come across such a study so I cannot authenticate it.

I really do not know because we are not doing very well as an alcohol producer! I do know about the youth alcohol study programme back in 2014 – a study that proved further rationale for the Ikgalemele Youth Campaign.

That campaign sensitized the youth on the dangers of underage drinking and binge drinking – issues that are generally a concern as the youth are less psychologically developed, are more adventurous and inexperienced than their more mature counterparts when it comes to alcohol consumption.

These efforts are set to continue under the AB InBev Smart Drinking Goals, hopefully still under the Ikgalemele umbrella.

Q. Not so long ago KBL was embroiled in a legal battle for allegedly using someone else’s idea as their own. The case was finalised in court but is there any chance that the company may have used its muscle in the whole situation?

A. The truth of the matter is that following on from the legal challenge, the judgement determined that KBL had not done anything illegal or ethically wrong.

Actually, whereas we had the option at the time to publicize the outcome, right-wrongs and in some ways mend our reputation; we felt it decent and fitting that when a large corporate like KBL is victorious in a case against a relatively smaller entity, then it would be improper to seek further satisfaction or remedy by asserting ourselves unnecessarily.

Despite the case, this can sometimes be necessary in light of potential reputational damage or being wrongly defamed.

Q. But how come the event, with the same artist and idea was presented as if that of KBL?

A. I believe that the courts ruled that KBL had done no wrong, demonstrating this after thoroughly reviewing and analysing all the different aspects of the case.

Of course, it is important, if not an obligation that no organisation shows any form of laxity or complacency when dealing with its stakeholders or anybody for that matter.

Q. Your last word as the face of KBL?

A. In my role I have grown to realise that to succeed in any career you need to promote and cultivate good relations with people at all levels that you touch point with, both internally and externally. Yeah that is my last peace as I bow out.

Q. What legacy do you think leave behind?

A. Without necessarily blowing my own horn, it has to be good stakeholder relations, good reputation of KBL, which I like to believe I protected over the years, as well as having improved a voice and access and communication within the staff.

Q. What is on your playlist?

A. I listen to everything, I play everything – Kid loco, Dave Koz, Livita and a variety of other house mixes.

Q. And how will you be spending your weekend?

A. I will be doing a bit of reading and preparation – and of course having a couple of steaming cold lagers and generally chilling out with friends as I prepare for and anticipate my next big challenge.