She’s recently been appointed Assistant Brand Manager by KFC.
Soon to be a new mom; this hard working lass found her passion for marketing while studying for accounts at the University of Botswana and has worked hard to live her passion.
At only 25 she is the top KFC representative in Botswana charged with giving the brand a local touch.
Archie Mokoka finds out how she manages to handle pregnancy and the big responsibility of a big brand
Q: Tell us about yourself
I’m Kgomotso Garebakwena from Molepolole.
I’m 25 years old and about to be a mother to my first child.
Thank you. I’m quite excited about it because it’s young motherhood and career, so it’s like a balance that you have to know how to keep.
Q: You are 25 and you already hold such a high position?
I wouldn’t say it’s such a high position.
I’m Assistant Brand Manager for Botswana.
KFC is an international brand and it falls under the mother company which is Yum Brands International.
Yum houses Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut.
I’m your first point of contact in Botswana but the brand manager for Botswana, Nigeria, Lesotho and Swaziland is based in South Africa.
So if that’s the high position you mean, then yes indeed.
Q: What motivates you and keeps you going besides money?
Money is not a big motivator.
A person should be motivated by doing what they like doing and what motivates me is that I wake up every morning, I come to work to do a brand that I like to do.
So, it’s my passion for branding and advertising and my passion for what I do that keeps me going.
Q: What’s your typical day like?
Exhales. Hmm! Waking up in the morning, coming to the office, checking emails, then check the newspapers and do a competitive review.
Mostly it’s in and out of meetings and a lot of other things I have to implement throughout the day.
There are campaigns I have to think about and briefs that I have to give to agency.
My typical day for a normal person is a busy day.
Q: Do you check the stores at all?
Yes actually. Most of the time I have to go to the shops to meet the staff because what we do is local store marketing.
Local store marketing means finding out what’s happening around your shop and identifying opportunities that you may use around your shops for marketing and branding.
There are days when I spend most of my day visiting the stores to meet the team members and motivate them.
I also make sure that they interact with the customers because the customers are the most important thing to KFC.
Q: Is your job challenging?
Indeed, because I have to deal with a lot of different people and imagine there is me and six other people who are restaurant support committee and more than 300 other people in the country at store level.
I have to keep these people motivated and loving their jobs.
It’s a huge challenge.
I make sure they understand that KFC is a loving brand and is there for them.
We have this thing called ‘how we win together’, a training programme that encourages team members to recognize and believe in each other.
Q: Tell us a little about the Football Beat.
The general idea was just to tap into the younger market so they grow with us and become our future investors.
KFC is a fun loving brand and the idea was to have them come together to interact, have fun and make friends.
This was the first event in Botswana but the first one in the SADC region was in Namibia in early June and it is going to spread out into all of Africa going forward.
In Botswana the idea is to have it as an annual event and hopefully we will take it to other places outside of Gaborone.
Q: The government is in trouble with FIFA for the Constituency League; have you had any objections from the football body?
Football Beat is not a tournament, it’s a fun day.
We have not had problems with FIFA because we haven’t gone into the constituencies and said it’s a competition because ultimately all the kids get a medal and they are all winners.
Q: Are there any plans to go into something bigger that would include the larger community, like a sponsorship for a youth league?
Going forward we will look into such ideas.
You should understand that this at the first stages and the idea is developing.
Q: How did you end up in this job?
I started out as an Accounts Major at the University of Botswana in 2007 but shortly I realized that accounting was not my thing.
In 2009 I changed my major to Marketing. I’m an outspoken person, I like to meet people, I have great ideas, I like brands and I like to see brands grow.
When I joined the marketing team it became like a huge opportunity for me to explore things around me.
In 2010 I interned as a Public Relations Officer for Stanbic Bank Botswana.
A lot of us UB students were recruited from the Faculty of Business.
I learnt a lot of things and had my first contact with media houses.
I then went back to school and while there I went to Botswana Guardian and Midweek Sun as a Marketing Assistant.
I was working throughout school. Every time there was a break I would work or take a break to go and work, so it took me a long time to finish school.
I would make the necessary contacts, meet people and present myself and I got the opportunities I was looking for.
I’m a very steadfast person and when I want something I go for it.
Q: What was the motivation for that?
Experience. A lot of us are put to school and all we learn is theory, so you will never know what goes on in the market or what contacts you can make.
Q: Ok, continue with your experience.
From then I worked for Herbex Botswana(I hlasela mafuta). She giggles.
Actually the sole distributer of Herbex in Botswana is called Vitality Health Products and I worked there as a Sales and Marketing Executive for Herbex.
Herbex is a brand that’s known throughout Africa and that solidified my love for brands.
What I needed to do was give them a local Botswana feel through local insights.
Q: Did you learn anything there?
I learnt that you could change a brand to suit the local market and I had a lot of fun.
Then it was back to school. I finished school last year when I was 24, by the way.
After graduating I joined Dialogue Saatchi and Saatchi until recently when I joined KFC.
I grew up with the brand and I pretty much know what the brand is so all I need to do as Assistant Brand Manager is make it suit our Botswana Market and reach to the local people.
Q: So we might be eating millet at KFC soon?
Watch the space (laughs).It comes down to promoting the product and getting people to actually love it and that’s why I’m here as the only person in the country.
Q: What is your biggest milestone so far?
Football beat was my first project and it was a success.
It got all the press feedback that we were looking for and all the children we recruited were there and they all had a great day.
It’s quite an achievement when the first thing you walk into gets done properly.
But my biggest milestone is having this job.
Q: What’s coming up next?
I’m working on news store that will be opening soon. KFC store eat BBS mall opening soon, Kanye store also opening soon.
There are a few products that are coming up, so keep your ears on the ground for that.
Q: Your competitors say ‘oil is meant for your car’, what do you say?
Laughs. We know their tactics and we are not an attacking brand. We counter that by giving great service.
You walk into any KFC store and you walk out with your meal and a smile.
We have a huge variety of products including burgers and pops, just to mention a few, and a very fun environment.
We’ve also got team members that love people because that’s how they were taught.
We work together and we win together.
Q: What legacy do you intend to leave?
I would like to leave KFC as the number one brand.
It’s already at that level but just needs to appeal to you the local person by meeting your needs.
Q: Does being pregnant pose a challenge for you?
It is challenging because people perceive pregnant women to be emotional, irrational so you have to put up with it and put your foot down.
You have to look people in the eye and say I’m capable and able.
Q: You have to also keep the hormones in check.
Yeah. Women are naturally hormonal creatures in any given scenario.
But at this point you have to listen to yourself and internalize some issues.
Stop, breath, think and communicate then you have less chance of blowing up.
It’s been great though because when you do what you love there is less chances of being tired all the time and miserable are limited.
Q: How do you blow out the pressure of work?
I get home, put my feet up and watch some TV.
No. I don’t like soapies because it’s a story that doesn’t end.
I watch BBC and a lot of UK shows like ‘come dine with me’ because I like the dry humor.
I also like to do some DIY here and there.
I work as hard as I play.
Q: Holiday destination?
I could travel the whole world.
I can’t make up my mind.
KFC is so good but I also love a home cooked meal because I cook very well.
Q: Advice to the youth?
Perseverance is key. They should never give up and they should never stop trying and never let people tell them they can’t do it.
Q: Any last words?
Thank you very much Archie!