The PR Queen

Daniel Chida
PR GURU : Mercy Rebaone Thebe

Thebe’s new start

For many, she is the local face of Limkokwing University.

However, after 16 years dedicated service, in which she was a driving force behind Limkokwing’s success, Mercy Rebaone Thebe is moving on.

The PR queen, whose Corporate Communication skills rank amongst the very best in Botswana, will not be lost to the educational landscape, taking on an exciting new role at the recently formed, Botswana Teaching Professional’s Council (BOTEPCO).

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The Voice’s DANIEL CHIDA finds out more…

Tell us about your journey, where did it all begin?

I was born and bred in Francistown and am a proud product of the Botswana Government Education system.

I started my schooling at Nyangabgwe Primary, then proceeded to Gold Mine CJSS, and completed my O’Levels at Mater Spei College.

I did my National Service at Selepa CJSS teaching English and Home Economics.

You’re best known for your time at Limkokwing – how did that come about?

In 2001, I was one of the lucky students to receive a scholarship from the Government of Botswana to go and study in Malaysia.

I graduated top of class and in 2007 I was part of the pioneer staff members who contributed towards the establishment of the University in Botswana.

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I started as a lecturer in the Faculty of Communication, Media and Broadcasting and joined the Public Relations Department in 2009 as a Manager and progressed through the ranks ending as the Director Comms & PR, until May 2023 when I left the university after 16 years of service.

Sounds like a stressful position – what were the typical challenges you encountered?

Let me first highlight that I always view all my challenges as free life lessons which contribute towards my personal and professional development.

With that said, I have faced different challenges in life at a very young age: from juggling single parenting with a demanding work schedule, to being entrusted with a high position of managing a brand of an unknown organisation in a male dominated industry, you name it.

I have always used one mantra when faced with challenges: ‘Throw me to the wolves and watch me come back leading the pack’.

Tell us about some of your career highlights?

My greatest career achievement was successfully managing to brand and position the former organisation I served as a Brand Custodian, as a reputable and number one market leader private tertiary institution in Botswana, harnessing great mutual relations between the organisation and all its relevant stakeholders, including government and corporate and profiling of the graduates for their true caliber which is: industry ready, industry relevant, techno savvy and highly enterprising.

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On the other end of the scale, what about your lowest point?

Without a single doubt, it was the passing Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato Sri Paduka Dr. Limkokwing in June 2021.

He is solely responsible for the person I am professionally.

He was a global educationist maverick, that trail-blazed transformational education and I was extremely lucky to have had him as a mentor and father figure.

He is truly the man who designed the future and dared me to dream and fly high and that I will cherish for life.

He was truly one of the world’s most highly decorated citizens for excellence in innovation, communications, advertising, education and as an international peacemaker.

His death really affected me as he was a very hands-on visionary leader and life coach, but even though he left us in human form, his legacy will echo through generations to come.

Well said, a truly touching tribute! You’ve now moved on from Limkokwing, tell us about your new gig?

I am privileged and humbled to have been appointed as the Manager Corporate Affairs for the Botswana Teaching Professional’s Council (BOTEPCO) beginning of June.

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I hold the position in high regard as I’m so passionate about the education sector and the teaching profession; to serve a council of this stature is a career dream come true for me.

This is a newly established council, a corporate body set-up under the provisions of the Botswana Teaching Professionals Council Act No.22 of 2019 and is mandated to professionalize teaching, by maintaining professional and ethical standards, registering and licensing teachers, advocating for the teaching profession amongst others.

The Council’s main functions are to regulate the teaching profession; maintain professional and ethical standards including teaching knowledge, skills and competence; license teachers; establish, publish, review and maintain a code of ethics for teachers; and review as well as advise on professional standards of teachers.

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So what do your day-to-day duties involve?

Mainly to plan, coordinate and manage the Council’s Corporate Affairs Department by defining and leading the corporate branding strategy to position the Council positively amongst all its relevant stakeholders, establish relationships with media entities and managing the overall corporate events and communications for the company.

I also manage the Council’s Online Footprint by building an online presence that will create attractive content for BOTEPCO to position itself to target audiences.

My other duties include: development and implementation of appropriate communication and stakeholder management strategies plans and policies.

Effective teacher outreach campaigns.

Efficient and effective event management, Appropriate Internal and external communication plans and roll-out, Strong and reputable brand, Effective crisis and reputation management and Effective stakeholder engagement, satisfaction and protocols.

Anything else you think our readers should know about BOTEPCO?

Our Council recently started operations and our key priorities will remain developing regulations to operationalize the Act, setting up processes that entail Financial Policies and Procedure Manual, Fixed Assets Policies and Procedure Manual, Procurement Policies etc.

BOTEPCO is also moving swiftly towards the development of Registration and Licensing Requirements, Teaching Standards, and a Code of Ethics for Teachers.

This is going to be an engaging process where consultation will be the hallmark.

You’re quite the celebrity when it comes to Corporate Communications – how did you manage to stay at the top for so long?

I am extremely passionate about my craft.

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I believe in myself because no one can believe in you if you do not believe in yourself and I am very driven and results orientated.

I am also an ever-evolving learner.

I believe every day is an opportunity to learn something new from anyone and everywhere.

I also embrace continuous self-development hence I’m looking forward to up-skilling myself academically in the next semester.

I also believe in positively impacting people’s lives on a daily basis because how you treat others and experiences you have with them is your true legacy as a human.

I strive to live a purposeful driven lifestyle and give back as much as I can whenever I can.

Please share some tips for young professionals who aspire to follow the path you have paved.

If you pursue a career that you are passionate about, it’s highly likely that you will rise to the top, lead and inspire others.

You need passion and drive to succeed, what really drives me is that I absolutely love what I do and I do put in the work.

Enough about work, how do you spend your free time – what do you do for fun?

I used to love attending lifestyle events and with growth that changed.

Nowadays I enjoy hosting intimate sessions at home, travelling or exploring nature.

Who thought a time would come when I’d look forward to going to the farm!

Of late I enjoy the serenity and the peace that comes with farm life and nature in general.

So what’s your favorite destination?

Without a doubt: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

Your also famous for being a fashionable lady – your all-time favorite hairstyle?

None because I can rock any hairstyle and make it iconic, from the pony tail, weaves, mohawk you name it, I mean I’m currently bald and killing it and have influenced a few of my supporters to follow suit and shave their heads.

TGIF, how are you going to spend your weekend?

I haven’t gotten the opportunity to celebrate my birthday in three years due to various reasons.

The first one fell during the Covid-19 lockdown, then the following one I was mourning the untimely passing of Tan Sri Limkokwing and this year it fell on a Wednesday and I was at work.

So this weekend I am going out to celebrate with friends and family and make it up to myself, it’s going down!

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