Many know Kesego Kebelaele Okie from reading news on Radio Botswana back in the days.
Her recognizable, assertive voice made her the people’s favourite and her efforts did not go unnoticed as in 2005 she won two Media Institute of Southern Africa awards, Print Journalist and News Reader of the year.
She later joined the corporate world, working as Orapa Letlhakane Damtshaa Mines Public and Corporate Affairs Manager.
In 2013 she left the mine to form a new communications agency Spontaneous Events and while still there she was offered a job at the Office of the President as Deputy Permanent Secretary.
As a sought after brand, Okie recently tendered her resignation as she has reportedly been offered yet another lucrative job.
Though she remains tight-lipped about her next employer, word has it that she will be joining De beers as Head of Marketing and Communications.
Our Reporter Portia Ngwako-Mlilo had a chat with the successful Okie about her flourishing career and future plans.
Q. Changing jobs seems to be easy for you…
A. I think at the end of the day it’s about how you portray yourself as a professional.
It’s also about the results of what you put in when you are given a job.
It puts you at an advantage when opportunities arise. So basically it’s about having a good reputation, being a hard worker and delivering as expected.
With God by your side you will never go wrong, you will always prosper and that works for me.
Q. Are you in a position to tell our readers about your next career move?
A. (Laughs) I wish I could. All I can say is that it’s something that is aligned to who I am, my career path, what I did before.
I am not in a position to say much because I don’t know when my new employer wants to inform the public about my appointment.
I am going to continue serving the country and doing something I know will make everyone proud.
Well, 2018 will be a new year with new beginnings.
Q. Why did you decide to leave the Office of the President?
A. Everything has a beginning and an end.
In our field you are bound to get opportunities that are enticing and more exciting.
Life is a circle and in this journey we need to grow.
I just took a decision based on the bigger picture.
Q. How has it been working in OP?
A. It has been an incredible journey.
I have a feeling most people aspire to work there.
In my view it moulds people to be true professionals because that is where the pinnacle of everything is, be it productivity, brand ambassador of Botswana or showcasing leadership.
Working directly in the office of Permanent Secretary to Office of the President has been the icing on the cake.
PSP is the head of the public service and by virtue that means you have the opportunity to experience other functions within government.
Q. What exactly did your job entail?
A. I was the PSP Carter Morupisi’s right hand person.
My job was to assist him deliver his mandate effectively within government.
His office is the link between government and all ministries.
I had to ensure his visibility particularly internally within government employees.
Q. What are some of the highlights of your career as DPS?
A. Being able to start some initiatives with PSP office that will further help to ensure his visibility as a leader.
I made communication between him and other government employees much easier as there are now constant updates of what is happening in the civil service.
It means a lot to me as a communications person to know that I ensured that my leader gets connected to the work force.
Q. Some people believe for a woman to excel she must sleep her way to the top, does that thing exist?
A. To me it’s just cheap talk which has no grain of truth.
I have seen incredible and powerful women who use their brain to get where they are.
I would really advocate for us to desist from insinuating that there is such a thing.
There is a song which is currently trending that talks about that and my view is that it is quite regrettable especially since the artist is a woman.
Women are powerful, naturally talented and work extremely hard and we should respect that.
Q. Kindly share with our readers some of the challenges you encounter as a woman in leadership.
A. I have had a great privilege to work in different industries and I think I have seen more opportunities than challenges.
It goes back to who you are and how you portray yourself for people to believe in your leadership.
You have to ensure that you make an impact in the organization you work for.
If you do that, you will be treated as a person of repute despite your gender.
I honestly never experienced something that I would say it was because of being a woman.
In the field of Communication and Public Relations women excel far much better than men.
Q. What motivates you?
A. I am a God fearing woman and I have two daughters who continue to push me to do the best I can in life so I can give them the best.
I get inspiration from working or meeting people who look at the world with positivity and driven by desire to make positive impact in society.
Q. Do you have any political ambitions?
A. Who knows? I think for me that’s another platform to serve my country.
In Botswana we don’t have enough women representatives within the political space.
I am young, outgoing and I believe I could have solutions to some of the social issues out there but I am not sure if addressing them politically will be ideal.
What I know is I am inspired to work for the people.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring communications and PR young people?
A. Be yourself, believe in yourself, be willing to learn everyday and grow.
You can learn from the lowest person in the organisation.
You must be prepared to associate with everybody.
Work hard and learn what other entities are doing. Polish your public speaking and leadership skills.
Q. Who is your role model?
A. There is an amazing lady I have worked with in the past who is a Human Resources practitioner of repute and possesses amazing leadership skills.
She just inspires me to be a better and greater leader.
Her name is Malebogo Mpugwa.
Q. Apart from being a communications guru, what else do you do?
A. I am a philanthropist who loves doing so much community work.
Most of it really not recorded but I enjoy helping where I can.
I donate uniforms to students who come from under-privileged families in different schools across the country.
It brings so much joy to my heart knowing that a couple of kids can go school wearing uniform which will help them feel more comfortable in the school environment.
Q. You have recently developed interest into arts. Are you A.T.I’s manager?
A. Like I said I am a staunch patriot and always willing to inject the little I can into any field for the benefit of the nation which is why I have a huge interest and involvement in the local music and arts industry.
I believe Botswana artists should start featuring in international shows.
I am a coach and mentor of Atasaone but I want to provide my guidance in that field to help artists to mould themselves into professionals.
A few artists have approached me and I have agreed to assist them for free.
Q. How do you relax?
A. I am a cyclist, I go to the gym and I also do community projects.
I am a member of UCCSA and love helping where I can.
I am a fun loving person who doesn’t allow anything or anyone to dictate how I should live my life.
Q. Before we conclude, let me take you back a bit, how did you end up in radio?
A. Radio is my love. My uncle Moreri Gabakgore is one of the pioneers of Radio Botswana and he used to read news.
He is one person who inspires me in so many ways which is why I ended up in radio.
I used to mimic reading news when I was still at Gaborone Senior.
I remember one time when I was home sitting under a tree reading newspapers aloud as if I was reading news on radio.
One gentleman passed and told me he had been listening to me thinking it was radio news.
The government later sponsored me to study Radio Production in Australia and when I came back I joined news and current affairs desk.
I would actually love to be on radio again.
Q. Thank God it’s Friday. Any plans for this weekend?
A. I will be at Mahika Mahikeng supporting our local artists A.T.I and Amantle Brown as they will be performing at the show.