Fresh after his business (DHL Express Botswana) won the Top Employer in Botswana Award, the ambitious Mokgethi Magapa has a much bigger dream: To see to the speedy establishment of a Logistics Special Economic Zone at the Gaborone International Airport where his company will invest in a logistics park.
Understandably as a logistics business DHL Express Botswana’s key concern will always be the ease with which goods are delivered or transported out of the country. Quality of service at the country’s points of entry remains critical in DHL's line of business, just as it is for anybody coming in and out of the country. The local face of the company - the smart, driven, ambitious and never-say-die Mokgethi Magapa - has been knocking on doors to advance his quest to see an improved trading environment.
While he welcomes the recent law that sets up Special Economic Zones (SEZ), he knows exactly which one should be a priority and he has not shied away from expressing that to Government. His view is that Botswana can easily transform into a hub for the logistics sector were it to focus on the development of Sir Seretse Khama Airport area to further enhance its value, making it attractive for major logistics players.
“DHL is willing to enable and assist Government in meeting this objective and would invest in a logistics park within the SEZ of the airport,” he insisted, showing his great conviction about the economic prospects of the country. In fact, he is happy with the recent upgrade at the airport; what is left is a deliberate development of other supporting infrastructure in the area to make it more appealing and efficient as a logistics hub.
There are things that he could do with for now. Major entry points should as well be opened 24 hours a day. “We are a 24 hour business and hence we require this to best serve our clients. Here the airport and borders close at night. Our major ports of entry should be 24 hours because otherwise it takes longer to deliver the goods to our clients.”
The other consideration he is anxious about is the setting up of the National Single Window – that is creation of a one point clearance centre where all those involved in the clearance process are housed to reduce the draining work of moving from one place to the other to complete the process. Here a single official would do the work of all agencies involved.
Some African countries are said to have advanced in this area while Botswana still lags behind. “I am happy that Customs is receptive to this though it is taking longer,” he said, noting that another discussion is on the electronic submission of documentation to facilitate easy clearance of goods, even without having a particular client physically available.
Magapa joined DHL group as the Managing Director of Botswana operations two and half years ago. To him the appeal was not only to join a global brand – operating in 220 countries with 202 million international shipments annually – but the urge to experience logistics management at its best. DHL boosts of three global hubs made of 19 regional ones, has 45 000 service points, 4 000 facilities, 250 dedicated aircraft and 32, 500 vehicles. This huge jigsaw has 80 000 Certified International Specialists who are making it work, ensuring that goods and services are delivered with speed to the 2.6 million customers they have in every corner of the universe.
Magapa, who caught the multinational's bug when he first joined Samsung as its Botswana Country Manager, could not resist the appeal of the adrenaline generating madness of logistics. He had grown weary of the constant traveling demands under Samsung.
Employer of Choice
So far it has been a fulfilling journey. The biggest confirmation of his excelling work has come with a major award that places DHL Botswana as the best Employer in Botswana. This award was bestowed upon the company recently by the Top Employer Institute.
Magapa has insisted that this award is not a sham, since all major local and international companies were evaluated before they were chosen. “Annual international research undertaken by the Top Employers Institute recognises leading employers around the world that provide outstanding employee conditions, nurture and develop talent throughout all levels of the organisation, and strive to continuously optimise employment practices. Being named Top Employer 2016 in Botswana by the Top Employers Institute recognises the importance DHL Express places on employee engagement, development and training. It also provides affirmation to the organisation and the staff that indeed we are on the right track and we need to keep doing more of what we have been doing and believing in the choices that we have made with regards to our approach to business.
“Having motivated people is the first pillar of our global Focus strategy and being an Employer of Choice is one of our three bottom lines (in addition to being the provider and investor of choice). We believe that there is a huge calibre of talent available in the country and that having emotionally engaged and motivated employees will continue to be a key differentiator for us in the future. It is also re-enforces and demonstrates how serious employee engagement and development are to our business. Our vision is to be The Logistics Company for the World. We aim to be the logistics provider that people turn to first – not only for all their shipping needs, but also as an employer or investor. This is the simple reason why DHL has so heavily invested in its people. Happy employees who feel valued are loyal, motivated and productive and in turn are most likely to provide outstanding quality service to our customers thereby creating emotionally engaged customers. We, therefore, spend an inordinate amount of time, effort and resources to ensure we create a great working environment and culture that allows for our employees to thrive and excel and at the same time have fun whilst doing it,” he said.
CIS – the game changer
The company has implemented many initiatives to motivate employees – one of which is the Certified International Specialist (CIS) programme, Magapa hailed this programme as the ‘game changer’. “CIS is a cultural change programme and revolves around four attributes: Speed, Can-Do Attitude, Right First Time and Passion. "Everyone from the Global CEO or our couriers have gone through this training programme, which reinforces our core competencies. This programme has been central to employee development and retention. An extension of the CIS programme is the Certified International Manager (CIM) programme. This focuses primarily on ensuring that our leaders have the correct balance between IQ and EQ, and have the right leadership and social skills to lead tomorrow’s workforce. Coupled with employee development is employee recognition and engagement in this space programmes include the annual Employee Opinion Survey, Employee Appreciation Weeks aimed at celebrating and recognising employees’ achievements within each country, and regular recognition schemes, such as the Employee of the Quarter / Year,” he said.
“With an evolving workplace landscape, at DHL BW, we continue to focus on creating a culture which does not only fit in with the corporate norms of DPDHL but also ensure that we remain relevant to the society in which we operate in. Our corporate social responsibility programmes are therefore run and led by staff with management providing support. Employees are encouraged (and they do) to donate their time and resources in helping to bring meaningful and sustainable change to our society. This we have found to also be a key contributor to the retention motivation and development of our most valuable assets – our people,” Magapa maintained.
For two years running from 2013 to 2014, DHL Express Botswana won the PMR Diamond Award for Excellence in Customer Service. This year a further affirmation of their excellence came through a PMR Gold award.
P15m facility upgrade
Another significant achievement that Magapa points to is the P15m upgrade of the company’s sorting Facility at Block 3 in Gaborone. A national, regional and world leader in logistics business, DHL has been rolling out facilities upgrade across Africa and hence Botswana office revamped offices, secured new vehicles and spend P5m in a Direct Loading facility. Also provided was a state of the art power back-up facility which means the lights never go out at DHL Botswana.
“What pleases me the most is that the business has been healthy enough to ensure that we invested in the project as well,” he said.
Though the company has been posting a healthy performance under his watch, the former beMOBILE General Manager has had to contend with a number of challenges. The logistics business is specialised and hence has a limited skill base locally. “We have had to heavily invest in talent development. And now I am happy that there has been a gradual replacement of expatriates in the senior management positions. Currently the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) is the only expatriate,” he said.
There is also the issue of mismatch of systems and technology mainly because the country has lagged behind adopting systems that are used in advanced economies.
Your DHL legacy
I want to leave a well-functioning DHL Botswana with exceptional quality standards to match any part of the DHL’s global network and most importantly a team of Batswana who are able to hold their own against anyone else in the Express Logistics Business. Coupled with that would be a financially and operationally sustainable operation (Botswana) which contributes positively to the bottom line of DPDHL – the holding group which is listed in the stock exchange in Germany.
In the next 10 years
I consider myself a “game changer” and someone who tries to live a positive and impactful life in all spheres of my life. As a person, you always have an opportunity to be better and that is what I strive to do every single day and these cumulative days will probably get me to 10 years from now (God willing). In this journey of becoming a better person, husband, father, leader, I would like to believe that it shall take me to different regions of Africa and the rest of the world and probably even to different spheres of commerce.
Tips for upcoming entrepreneurs
I guess its different strokes for different folks however in the almost two decades (18 years) of being in the business environment I have made some observations which in my humble view could be useful to entrepreneurs. There is a lot of passion that comes with being an entrepreneur and normally it does play a role in one’s staying power. Expansive and current knowledge of both the micro and macroeconomic environment in which you operate in (both on the output and input side) is very important, as it would enable you to better understand where opportunities lie. A very solid network (both business and social) which you can use as sounding board as well as for accessing resources, people, customer etc is very critical. Overall I have seen that if you enjoy what you do the most, you most likely to make a success out of it.