THERE is something special about the number 8. No, I scratch that out…there is something special about every family’s child number 8. And I am not the only one believing that.

Dr John Gray, one of the world’s leading relationship experts, and an authority on improving communication styles for couples, companies, and communities writes that God took David, an invisible eighth son in a forgotten family, yet a hidden gem that was often overlooked and undervalued, and turned him into a king.

Well that same God is not limited to biblical times and he somehow, similarly, descended on one Katutura family in Windhoek some decades ago and turned their spoiled brat into a high flying, parastatal running, humble woman whom we have come to know as Kristofine Naunyango – the Chief Executive Officer of Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings (NPTH) Limited.

“I was born and raised by a single mother in the dusty streets of Soweto, Katutura. I’m the last born among 8 siblings, and was very spoiled but yet disciplined in a Christian house,” Naunyango reveals to Inspirational Women Magazine as she delves into the foundation on which her grit to run big things was built.

NPTH is the holding company of Telecom Namibia Limited (Telecom), Namibia Post Limited (Nampost), and Mobile Telecommunications Ltd (MTC). In addition, NPTH is the custodian responsible for the management and administration of properties on behalf of its subsidiaries.

The company is predominantly female, boasting a 95% women staff complement because, ‘the future is female’, according to Naunyango further hinting that it is about time, since women, in her opinion have always gotten the shorter end of the stick at numerous workplaces in Namibia.

“I am now a female, running a conglomerate of companies. [But in the past] females were always dominated by the males under the perception that only men were allowed to sit as heads at a table while women were assigned to roles of secretaries and personal assistants,” she says.

“I am [now] a seasoned company secretary and corporate legal advisor with over 15 years’ experience. I joined NPTH in 2018 as a company secretary, before my appointment as the acting CEO for the past five years. I assumed the role of substantive CEO with effect from 01 October 2023,” she reveals, relishing her legal and executive leadership educational background and hailing those as the building blocks to her career success.

Naunyango however does not finger the lack of access to the resources as the stumbling block between women and their glory, but rather a reluctance by women themselves to grab their share and earn their place in the economic food chain and entire ecosystem.

She says: “The barrier blocking and prejudicing women out there is that we are afraid of allowing our own light to shine on us. This is merely because of the lack of confidence and belief in oneself, Lack of support among ourselves and families, and the fear of being thrown into the jungle out there where one must face competition also prevails in some cases.”

But make no mistake, Naunyango says, because for whoever dares to go against the odds a prize beckons and is theirs for the taking – with equal spin offs to their organisations.

“It is such an over-arching achievement and pride that many leaders do not take it up on their chest to empower and recognise other females’ roles, potential and credibility. Experience has taught me that if you want the job done perfectly and efficiently, pass it on to ladies, if you want more talk-shops, appoint men,” she says.

“I always encourage participation and exposure at relevant platforms and net-working, and one must always keep yourself relevant at any given time,” the CEO says when asked on how she manages to mobilise a nearly all-female executive team and still keep it intact.

On the question of inclusivity, according to the seasoned executive, empowering and capacitating one’s team is key.

“Taking ownership and accountability should be the driving force behind the success recipe, in inclusive leadership, whereby you ensure that all women participate and get opportunities to own a space in the executive boardroom.

She is further of the opinion that breaking barriers in a girl-child that could grow to become limiting factors in her adult professional life starts at home.

“We need to nurture our girls from home to adulthood, where we prepare them for the jungle there. Having said that, our historical backgrounds, generational curses and myths should be something we need to call the past,” she adds. .

And to play her part in reducing dealing with special needs of working women such as that for flexible working hours, remote working, maternity leave and general work-life balance, the NPTH head reveals that her entity has improvised with the flexible working hours for breastfeeding mothers as well as paternity leave for fathers to support their women at home, in addition to several other initiatives “obviously in favour of working women and young girls.”

“In as much as I advocate women’s rights and empowerment, I have employed a female executive management team, and so far as we’re concerned, NPTH is the only public enterprise entity that has 100% females in executive positions.”
From her standpoint, there is seemingly no such thing as a male-dominated industry or female inclined one for that matter, since we live in a modern world where folks no longer believe that only men can fill certain roles.

“Women are better organised and prepared in all areas that they are thrown into, irrespective of the historical background, race and educational qualifications,” she adds.

At glance, one may assume that she packs a whole lot of arrogance and a ready-to-trigger level of fight. It turns out it’s all but just a great deal of tenacity and a desire to help – whatever it takes.

“I am a very hard working wife and mother, who strives to get the best potential out of everybody that crosses my paths. I have a strong personality that seems to frighten people away from me, but the few that know me, [will attest that] I am the kindest, humble person they have ever met,” she says, adding that there is no aspect of hers that she would consider as a weakness, since all of them work together for her good.