In this interview with The Voice reporter Daniel Kenosi, Stephanie Stoneham opens up about the joys and tribulations of climbing the corporate ladder and life in general.
Q. Please introduce yourself to our readers
My name is Stephanie Stoneham. I was born in Serowe so many years ago but I was raised in Francistown.
I moved to Gabs City when I was in my late teen years for high school.
I did my Senior school at Gaborone Senior Secondary school and thereafter I did national service formally known as Tirelo Sechaba.
Q. Interesting! But you don’t look that old to have passed through Tirelo Sechaba
Oh! Really, do I still look young? Thanks Dan.
That’s a compliment. I was based in Shoshong during my Tirelo Sechaba days and after that I proceeded to the University of Botswana where I did a course in Business Administration, majoring in marketing.
I was a librarian during Tirelo Sechaba, something very different from the career I have chosen.
I was very young and shy then so when most of my peers decided to take up teaching I settled for being a librarian because I knew that my job would only be about issuing books to students instead of standing in front of them the whole day.
It was a learning curve and at the same time traumatic but it suddenly dawned on me how complicated the world of hustling could get.
Q. How traumatic was being a librarian really?
Not in a bad way.
It was traumatic in the sense that I had to leave the comfort of my mother’s house and go out into the world of work at a young age.
Like I said, I was very young then and my parents were very protective of me so the whole experience of leaving that comfort was scary.
Q. Are you mama’s baby?
(Laughs) Come on Dan. My mother just loved me as her child but that doesn’t mean I was spoilt.
I was the last born for over 15 years before my mother had another child when I was 16, so for those many years I was her youngest child.
Q. You moved to so many places. Where did you live the longest?
I stayed for the longest time in Francistown and that’s where I call home.
I prefer to call it Ghetto or the home of The Voice as you call it.
Growing up in the Ghetto was such a great experience even though we didn’t have much compared to our counterparts in Gabs but we had a wonderful cinema which was of world class standards back then.
Q. How was it growing up in Ghetto and what do you recall?
Like I said, it was just a normal Setswana upbringing but very fun.
Ask anyone who grew up in that city, they will tell you a lot. We had only one entertainment centre which was the the cinema but life was fabulous in the Ghetto.
I went to Government schools my whole schooling life.
I wouldn’t say I had dramatic school days but what I can tell you is that I was a very quiet child and you needed to be captivating to capture my attention.
Even when I was sitting in class I would be fidgeting.
I am generally stimulated and that’s one thing I have noticed even now in my professional world because I always have to be moving to the next exciting thing.
Q. Please take us into your family
My dad lives in Francistown and unfortunately my parents have separated and I live with my mother and my brother. We are still a close knit family.
All my siblings are here with me.
I have three brothers and an older sister called Gwendolyn.
Gwen has always been the greatest influence because we are the only girls in the family.
Q. The surname you use is quite unusual in Botswana.
Do you have any roots across the borders?
No. I am 100% Motswana but I have always heard stories which I don’t pay much attention to about Ireland and my great grandmother being Herero but like I said, we were all born and bred here even though the surname sounds unusual.
Q. Please take us into your career path
As soon as I graduated my first job was with a friend of mine, Tshepo Ntshole under her events and marketing company which I had asked to be part of even though I knew it wasn’t going to pay much.
Q. Does that mean because it was your friend you volunteered your services?
Not really but because it was my starting point as a graduate, I really appreciated it.
Q. How much did you really aspire to get paid on your first job?
I was expecting between P1000 – P 2000 because I wanted that experience which I knew I could later charge for. (Laughs).
After that I joined Dialogue Satchi & Satchi Group and that was my first permanent job.
I started working with Dialogue in 2005 and we were just a minimum staff but when I left in 2012 the company had grown tremendously.
Q. What does your day to day job entail?
In the simplest form I must first know what the needs of a business are.
There is no point in me going to market Bank ABC to the wrong target audience.
We are currently faced with a challenge of people not depositing so I have to go out there and ensure that all those business people out there know the importance of depositing money.
My job is to make sure that Bank ABC clients business needs are catered to.
Q. Bank ABC is a new bank.
How easy was it for you to set up your marketing department office in the flooded industry?
I was not working here when the bank started its operations in 2010.
There is a lady called Sebaga who set up my office and I must say she did a great job and all I am doing now is to continue her legacy.
I can’t say It’s easy though but with hard work put into the job all is good.
Q. Are you taken?
(Laughs) I am taken but unfortunately I don’t have my own family as yet but we are planning our own family because I also want to have my own children.
Q. What word can you give to young women who aspire to be like you?
All I can tell them is to work extra hard and not be intimidated in any way.
They shouldn’t forget that even if you work hard you also have to have fun in the midst of it all.
Above all things when they start working they should strive hard to buy their own houses.
That’s what my previous superiors Tonderai and Norma Tsara taught me and now I have my own small shelter.
Q. How do you have fun after hard work?
I usually go out window shopping.
I also like going to coffee shops and I must add that I enjoy sundowners with my friends most of the time a glass of my favourite white wine wraps up the day nicely.
Q. What does it take for you to look presentable at work everyday?
It’s simple. I have my casual clothes in one wardrobe and my smart clothes in another wardrobe to make it easy for me to know what to wear where, how and on which day?
If I am behind time I take advantage of heavy traffic to do my make up on my way to the office.
Please don’t let my boss know all this.
Q. Please blow your own horn now
I am proud to be working for a wholly African bank and as you are aware we recently secured a deal with an international company and that’s what people should look out for.
I would also like to thank my customers and tell those who haven’t knocked at my door to do so to experience better service.
Q. Thank you for your time. What’s up for the weekend?
My friends and I are preparing for an upcoming marathon so I am having an early night today and tomorrow morning we will be jogging in preparation for it.