If Botswana’s corporate women were to be counted, Esther Norris would certainly add to the numbers. Although currently out of employment Esther has made her footprints by holding down high positions in some of the country’s biggest companies.
And it is not only her corporate achievements that Esther is known for. She is an active member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party where she has also held positions in the youth wing, women’s league and the party in general. In this one-on-one interview the petite yet indefatigable Norris fields questions about her recent departure from Barclays Bank, her political and her personal life.
CORPORATE AND POLITICALLY MINDED
You recently left Barclays Bank after five years of service, why and where are you heading to?
I volunteered to leave after the company announced that it wanted to restructure, so my resigning was part of that exercise. I needed to take a break, have time to rest and introspect. And besides I felt I had overstayed because I never want to stay too long in one organisation.
When I joined Barclays my intention was to be there for two years and move on but I ended up staying for five years. In terms of where to next, I don’t know but I am open to any new opportunities.
But you left at the same time as the former MD, Wilfred Mpai who was reportedly pushed out and the story out there is that you were also either pushed out or your departure was somehow linked to that of Mpai, your reaction to that?
Yes I left a day after Mpai but that was just a coincidence, like I have said I had long made my intentions to leave the bank.
You have worked for blue chip companies, Standard Chartered Bank, Debswana BTC and Barclays, what’s the secret?
I am a hard worker and very focused when it comes to my job, I just give it my all not because I will be looking at getting a promotion or a salary increase but simply to be appreciated for what I do.
You are very petite, don’t you feel intimidated at times?
Not at all, dynamite comes in small packages. And besides I never treat people according to their height or what they have so I don’t expect anyone to do that either
Ok, now let’s talk about mma Norris the politician, how long have you been with the BDP?
I have been with the BDP since my University of Botswana days, way back in the 90s even though I was not really an active member. I was recruited to the party by my friends Botsalo Ntuane and Nickson Marumoloa.
So are you now trying to recruit Ntuane back to the BDP since he has left you at the very same party that he recruited you to?
(Laughs) I am not, Botsalo is a smart man and I respect his decisions, but the truth of the matter is that we wish to have him back, remember politics is a game of numbers.
We are still friends though despite the fact that we now wear different party colours.
Any ambitions of holding a political position?
When an opportunity arises yes I might consider but when I joined the party the intention was to serve fellow Batswana and the country.
Women are always accused of taking a back seat when it comes to politics, your take on that?
That’s the sad reality and we really need to support each other as women. Our challenge and weakness is that we expect men to do things for us. It’s a mentality that we have to do away with and look up to each other as women.
I might be wrong but you have always been Esther Norris which suggests that you are not married and have never been married?
You are right ( she says showing off her fingers) I have never been married and I don’t lose sleep over that. My priority is my life and that of my daughter.
Is it because you don’t believe in the marriage institution or what?
I have mixed feelings when it comes to marriage, the sad thing is that marriage is a God given institution where two people are supposed to be faithful to each other but the devil somehow gets in between and you see people cheating on each other.
I have seen men with loving ,respectful wives whom they still cheat on as they womanise as if it’s getting out of fashion, to me that defeats the whole purpose. But I am not saying I will never get married, when the right
man and the right time comes I am sure I will get swayed.
Describe your ideal husband?
He must be a loving, caring, honest and God fearing man.
You have a daughter, how is your relationship with her father?
Sorry. Tell us about your upbringing
I grew up in strict Christian family, I am the last born in a family of seven. My father was a pastor in the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA). In as much as my late parents were strict they were very loving people who taught us some of the most valuable lessons in life.
They taught us the power of prayer and the importance of worshipping. Up to this day I still go to the SDA together with my daughter.
And the surname Norris?
My grandfather was Scottish
Looking back there are things that I wish I could have done better.
Things like what, were you a problem child rebelling against her Pastor father?
(Laughs) No, no I wasn’t a problem child, but it’s a question of some choices that I made back then but I guess it was part of growing up.
What is one thing that you have learnt in the journey of your life?
I have learnt to forgive and fully trust in God.
What do you want to be remembered for when you are long gone?
I want to be remembered for my kindness and compassion and for having touched so many lives in a positive way. I believe in helping others and putting a smile on people’s faces.
It’s mother’s day this Sunday, how will you spend the day?
Not sure yet but I always have special moments with my daughter who will also happen to share the same birthday.
Full names: Esther Norris
Date of birth: 21 September 1971
Place of birth: Maun
Home village: Moshupa
Marital status: Single with one daughter
Car driving: BMW 3 Series
Pastime: Pampering herself by going to a spa, doing facials, manicure and pedicure
Holiday destination: Any place with an ocean
Last things she does before sleeping: Read and pray
One thing that most people don’t know about her: Is that she is a very humble and loving person.