Cornelius Ramatlhakwane, the CEO of Botswana Post is the proud postman whose focus is in transforming and diversifying the postal services.
Barely over two years in office, the writing is crystal clear that his mission to take the postal services to greater heights is within reach as evidenced by the good profits the postal services has already made. Armed with MSc in Strategic Management, Ramatlhakwane is the kind of man who does not sit to enjoy the luxury of his office, but is always up on his feet leading his charges to own the transformation exercise. Clearly he must be subscribing to Martin Luther King’s philosophy that the “time is always right to do the right thing”.
Speaking to BG News, Ramatlhakwane does not mince his words; it becomes clear that he subscribes to Luther’s “When you are right you cannot be too radical, but, when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative”. He is first to show that he understands his mandate. He says the Post is part of the strategic Government initiative and consortium to both harmonise expertise, maximise resources and skills, and grow stakeholder value, especially the mere Motswana in far flung places, under a Holding Group called Botswana Postal and Savings Limited Group (BPSLG).
The latter has three (3) entities under its ambit being Botswana Post, Botswana Courier & Logistics and Botswana Savings Bank. These are however, independent entities with separate mandates yet sharing a common ground which is to bring services to the citizens. In time past these formed the singular mandate of the Post.
Having taken over in October 2015, Ramatlhakwane does not want to earn credit alone, instead he showers his predecessor, Keolebogile Pele Moleta and credits him for introducing him to the Postal Sector .“I have always sought to build on the foundation and vision that we set”.
He says true to form, perception is stronger than reality and at the heart of everything he does both with the engagement of the Board and Management teams, is to make sure that, “we build a sustainable and successful Postal business”. On assuming office, he was convinced that as a business they were at an “inflection point”, and unless they make critical decisions and take concrete steps, “we ran the risk of regression in growing this Brand – Botswana Post. The latter part of 2015 and early 2016 was a busy period across all levels.”
Excellence and growth
Ramatlhakwane’s first strategy was to become amiable. He says during the transition period, they went through sensitive moments as a precursor to the business as seen now and still building towards 2020. “I still look back and I am amazed at how crystal clear and impactful the Icon of Excellence Strategy was to everyone both locally and internationally.” At the centre of this Strategy was the realisation that Botswana Post in its traditional make up could not survive the onslaught of technology, and the fast-paced developments in people’s lives and how businesses are run in this modern age.
“We needed to assume a different posture, and also in alignment with our national aspirations”.
During the period following immediately after his appointment they undertook the SCAN - Performance Improvement and Opportunity Review - intended to inform their strategic disposition into the future.
“In my mind we needed to re-focus and recalibrate but only if we knew what we are dealing with, then would our response be better measured and definitive”. They got approval to extend by twelve (12) months the Icon of Excellence Strategy. Botswana Post has since made notable achievements among others making P500m revenue for the company, cut down cost to income ratio to 60 percent as well as become a serious player in the corporate Botswana
Fit for Growth
During the 12 month strategy extension, they introduced Strategic- Operational Themes in predetermined focus areas that promised to become the bedrock of “our success when we finally cast our new strategy. “For me the 12 months was both a personal/mental boot camp and mock session for when we finally launch the new strategy,” he said.
The 2017/18 financial year saw the business introduce the new strategy, ‘Executing Innovative Excellence 2017 – 2020’. This is an amalgamation of the work put through from the Performance and Opportunity Scan, results gleaned from the extension of the Icon of Excellence, targeted operational and strategic theme activities introduced in between and the impact of the VC Model.
This has placed the Post on a successful trajectory, becoming real competition that cannot be ignored both as a service provider and strategic co-collaborator to other players in the market. At the close of 2016/17 FY, the Post recorded a cost reduction of 52 percent compared to 2015/16, controllable costs are down by 9 percent whilst revenue is up by 7 percent.
Competition and Challenges
Ramatlhakwane says a lot remains at stake to build a convincing case of how to get the Post from the vicious circle of Government funding for some of its strategic projects. Days of cap-in-hand seeking guaranteed cash bailouts are over. “We are now operating in an environment under tighter BOCRA Regulation, and Companies Act as opposed to the old Postal Services Act dispensation, and this comes with its own requirements strategically and operationally”. There also exist challenges that are unique to the business such as a mandate that precludes them against anti selection, and being confined to towns and cities. “We operate in areas where commercially no one wants to operate at – this has its own setbacks – but we take it in our strides,” he says.
The transformation exercise has taken a great toll on the 800+ staff members, which at all times needs assurance of job security while being pushed to give their unwavering attention to customers.