KRISTOFINE Naunyango (Nee Itembu) is a straight talker – and literally shoots from the hip – and that has helped shape her career up the corporate ladder.

She was born in Ondangwa but grew up in Soweto, Katutura Windhoek where she attended her primary and secondary education before going on to graduate with an LLB (Bachelors of Laws) at the University of East London in England, and further attended various Management Professional Development Programmes

The charismatic and transformational leader has been the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings (NPTH), the holding company for MTC, NamPost and Telecom Namibia since 2018 and calls herself a hands-on leader with an open-door policy.

“I am the youngest in a family of eight siblings from our mother who is now 83 years. My career is based on being a Legal and Company Secretary in the corporate sector where I developed an interest in corporate law.

“This has helped me lead one of the most successful and commercial-driven corporate entities in Namibia,” she told Inspirational Women in Business Magazine in an exclusive interview.

“NPTH is a commercial driven entity whose mandate is to be at the front of the country’s ITC sector. To date, we have declared over N$5 Billion to the Government of the Republic of Namibia, our Ultimate shareholder.

“NPTH is shareholder of the three entities which all resort under it. We are also one of the largest property management company with over 124 properties nationwide,” she said, adding that this is where some of NPTH revenue stream are derived from, besides dividends received from the three subsidiaries.

Is it cold up there for her?

As she giggles, “NPTH is a 100% commercial and results driven entity, and again, I should emphasise that, now and then, it is not business as usual , but you should be resilient, vigilant and further create a culture and strategy that will enable you to achieve your strategic objectives and mandate. Again as a leader, you should have a strong drive to create team spirit which will further enable you to reach your goals, together with your Executive Team” said the no-nonsense but affable Executive.

“You should create a culture that ensures you have a winning team that supports your strategy and everyone in the team gets on top of their game. If they do not pull their weight, that’s when you take the bull by the horns to rectify and resolve the matter/issues amicably,”

Naunyango believes the characteristic that makes her stand her ground at work is that she is from a stable family and well-groomed background. “This foundation makes me have a strong personality and drive that brings out the best team spirit in all my staff.

“Currently my employees are the greatest assets in the company. I believe in empowering and further developing skills and potential which further boosts their abilities and confidence in them. Strictly speaking and as you can see in that beautiful poster behind me, my office has an all-female Executive Management Team and those are my foot soldiers, and meanwhile the non-managerial females staff members are about 85% and only 15% comprises of male employees,” says Naunyango who is very determined to pull the girl child up the corporate ladder.

She argues that the biggest let down for women in executive roles is the lack of support from their Principals. If the Principals do not empower you and support your strategy , then you are definitely set to fail.

Naunyango says the pull-her-down syndrome (PhD) among women is sometimes self-inflicted because women always say they are in male-dominated positions but that is not true.

“It is the mind-set we put ourselves into. By association and the way we portray ourselves out there, we actually pull ourselves down,” she argues.

Naunyango advises women leaders to be woke, vigilant and remain confident in themselves, and never allow anyone to pull them down, and instead hold hands and pull each other up. My biggest inspiration and role model is my Mother, Meme Aina Itembu.

“I am inspired by my mother who at 83 years is still an entrepreneur and has created employment and groomed many young Namibians including family members, by means of selling hand-woven baskets and crafted wood-works down the street market, opposite Avani Hotel for the past 35 years (Independence Avenue in the CBD). With all the proceeds she generated from the street market, she produced lawyers, doctors, chartered accountants and the list continues,” said Naunyango, beaming with pride.

In short, On the ICT Side…

The postal and telecommunications sector is the country’s back-bone, and I can confidently say that a country can come to stand-still if the ICT industry, National Policies and frameworks are not supported by the Ultimate Shareholder, given the rife competitive space that we are operating in. It also time that that leading ICT players in the industry consider the concepts of “infrastructure sharing” which will become both beneficial and cost effective to the government and the general public at large.

Motivational words to women……..

She says Namibians focus too much on university education yet graduates end up roaming the streets without jobs, and that the government should rather concentrate on vocational training centres to create the relevant skills which will enable the young females to create their own employment and self-empowerment. She says we must strive to be employers rather than be employees because there are not enough jobs to go around. Unemployment and poverty tend to like each other and the moment we set to become employers, we can absorb a lot of people off the streets.

Naunyango says that the “International Women’s Day should be celebrated and should further become an institutional public holiday on the calendar, globally, which will be used as a platform to stress the importance of the day, our talents, abilities and many un-told stories!”

Such days should be for outreach programmes to schools and the community to reassure the girl-child that it is possible to become a CEO, a lawyer, entrepreneur, engineer and even a pastor, she advocated.

Naunyango says if she had the power to change something for the betterment of women, she would change their mind-set so that they get to wear overalls and climb network towers and roof tops like men do. She would take them to the VTC’s to get them capacitated, educated and empowered.

She advises women to believe in themselves, surround themselves with positive minds and people who will add significant value to their lives. “Many times women are afraid of their own light to shine on them. If it’s your time to shine, you must shine.

On a private life….

“I thank my Creator that He blessed me with the greatest support system at home, mentor and eternal soul-mate, and that is my husband. He definitely makes my day sparkle each and every day, and I can confidently say that he has stood and passed the test of our trials and tribulations. I am not just a CEO leading a giant Group, besides that, I am a loving wife to my husband and mother to our children. Family is everything for me!

In conclusion, we need strike a balance in all arears of our lives, and further be grateful that at some point, we need to develop the culture of passing the baton to up-coming young Namibian girl-child!