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At Choppies' nerve centre

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 17 May 2016   |   By Keitebe Kgosikebatho
At Choppies' nerve centre

Naledi Botlele is the first stop to Choppies CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu’s Office. As an Executive Secretary to one of the most successful businessmen in the country she is at the nerve centre of the flourishing Pan African retail giant, making it easier for the leader to achieve each and every plan. KEITEBE KGOSIKEBATHO reports. 

An Executive Secretary is often expected to be the team leader’s walking and talking diary not to mention his/her human stick notes. They basically organise bosses’ day and makes sure that it ends up progressive, successful and productive. That’s basically what Naledi Botlele is to Choppies Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ramachandran Ottapathu. This seemingly glamorous position did not however come on a silver platter to the 25- year-old from Molepolole; she literally earned it. Botlele joined Choppies in 20 10 as an Office Assistant in Ottapathu’s office. According to the bubbling executive, she basically did menial tasks from preparing tea for the CEO and his guests to helping out with a bit of filing.

In 2011 she was taken for further studies at Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) where she completed her AAT. Today she manages the CEO’s office. According to Naledi, her job involves making flight and accommodation bookings for Choppies staff and visitors’, organising Ottapathu’s filing and managing phone calls. In short, she is the first stop to the CEO’s office. Her rise from her humble menial role to her current position was, she acknowledges, never a given. Although she admits that her hard work may have attributed to it, Botlele explains that she was roped in to hold fort while management looked for someone more ‘capable’ when her predecessor left the job. She dug her heels in and never looked back. 

The job, she says, was not anything out of the ordinary for her as she had in the past, out of interest helped and learnt from her colleagues the same things she was now expected to carry out. Before she knew it management had taken the decision to appoint her to the position fulltime.
“I really at times cannot believe I am the Executive Secretary of one of the most successful CEOs in the country and even have my own business cards,” she says. Working for one of Botswana‘s most successful CEO’s and probably one the busiest as well, the young executive is constantly kept her on her feet and pushes her to help achieve company results. This, she says, she manages through remaining as honest and hardworking as possible.

As much as she enjoys her work, Botlele says she is always alive to the fact that it was not an easy sail.  “You cannot just say I am working; you have to know what you want in your professional life and strive to get it,” she says. Botlele also says acknowledging where you come from and striving for the best in life also helps. But above all to succeed professionally she is of the view that one ought to be patient and exercise the traditional values of Botho at all times. The young executive acknowledges that working eight to five is a thing of the past to her and most of her colleagues as they usually do not leave the office before six O’ clock in the evening. “We have almost forgotten that knock off time is five,” she says.

Working with Ottapathu, on the other hand, though adrenaline pumping is not as over the board as one would think. She stays behind to man the office whenever her boss is traveling. While money doesn’t sleep for the big man, Botlele explains that she does not work on Sundays and on public holidays hence her social life does not suffer much. Though her boss is a serious man who is committed to his work and demands the same commitment from other employees, he can at times be as easy going and maybe throw a joke or two.