Tiny Kgatlwane has always dreamt of being an employer someday. Her dream finally came true this week when she and three other local women acquired majority stake in First Sun Alliance – an insurance outfit. The quartet is a proud owner of 51% stake in the company. The well-versed woman - commanding over 30 year experience in the financial industry – says it takes hard work and determination to achieve the goals one set for themselves especially if a woman. She has assumed the position of Executive Director in the business.
“We want to establish the company as one of the best in the country. We will be working to enhance the company’s image by improving the service delivery and customer satisfaction. It will be all about the customers for them to be happy with the service that we offer them,” said Kgatlwane. First Sun Alliance Managing Director Paul Chitate is adamant that the arrival Kgatlwane will take the company to new heights, considering the experience she is bringing.
Education and career history
Kgatlwane holds a B.Com - Accounting and Business Management - from the University of Botswana. Her career started at Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) where she learnt all about business. “My business inspiration started at BDC when handling and closing corporation deals with new companies that sought to do business in Botswana,” she said. The soft-spoken Kgatlwane then moved to Standard Chartered Bank and later Barclays. She worked at Botswana Breweries Limited, Debswana Pension Fund before joining BIFM as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Having lost her father at an early age of four Kgatlwane was brought up by her mother who had to juggle her finances to raise a family of seven siblings. Even though it was a struggle, her mother managed to raise the children well. It is because of this that she realised she can make it in life since her mother managed. She was driven by the fact that her mother did it in tough times.
“It was not easy in those days but my mother managed to bring us up regardless of the difficulties. I grew up with the notion that if my mother did it then I too can,” said Kgatlwane. The other thing that helped her reach where she is has been the hard work and determination she put in everything she did. She said she has never wanted to disappoint her mother because she has always had faith in her. “I keep working hard to keep to my mother’s expectations of me. As a result I always work hard to make sure that I advance in everything that I do,” she said.
As a woman Kgaswane said there is a lot of progress made in terms of empowering woman in Botswana particularly in the corporate sector. The numbers of women who occupy high corporate positions have increased. “When I started there were only a few women at executive positions with most in lower and middle management,” she said. However, she feels it is not enough yet compared to what is happening in other countries. Kgatlwane believes First Sun Alliance will also help in this regard by working with women empowerment organisation locally.
Challenges faced as a woman
Being a woman and working in a field dominated by men has its own challenges. Kgatlwane says it is not always easy to break through as women. She said women always have to go extra miles to prove their value. “As a woman you do not have to take it all natural and expect to beat men. It is not that we want to be given everything in a silver platter but it seems easier for men than women”. Kgatlwane, however, is of a view that some women look down upon themselves. She urged women to step up and challenge the status quo as they are equally capable as men.
Despite her busy schedule in the corporate world Kgatlwane has to balance work and family. She is a happily married woman with two kids Marang and Marung both of whom are still school going. She said that it is not an easy thing to balance the two (business & family) but it has to be done. “It is not easy but one has to focus and give utmost attention to what they do. I always give my family time as I am a married woman. When I get home I do family duties and I support my family in what they do,” she said. To her it is all about prioritisation to make things balanced as none of the two has to suffer.
In between the demands on her time, Kgatlwane has still managed to grow her profile into one of the leading local female golf players. She loved the sport from a young age. Though she played softball and squash, she settled for golf as she went up the corporate ladder. She has been in the golf national team for years until she retired last year. Her love for the sport was increased by the fact that one gets peace of mind when playing. “While at the game you become yourself, forget about business a bit and enjoy the moment,” said Kgatlwane.