In appointing the new Managing Director, Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) Board settled for an insider who requires no orientation to the organisation’s system and ways. The hard-working Botsile Kebapetse spared no effort in rising through the ranks to the ultimate seat at BOBS. Here is his take on the big assignment at hand:
You have recently been appointed the Managing Director of Botswana Bureau of Standards – what does this mean to you?
KEB: First, I would like to take this opportunity to pay my sincere heartfelt gratitude to the Almighty for his Grace. I take this appointment as a show of confidence on me and my team by our parent ministry, the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Board (Standards Council).
What does the position entail?
KEB: The position entails inter alia providing Strategic and Policy direction and implementing Board Policies and decisions.
You are a company insider who rose through the ranks – how easy was it?
KEB: Rising through ranks is never easy. Since we mostly possess similar qualifications and experiences, it is a very competitive environment and therefore I can only attribute the success to the Grace of God.
What attracted you to the company in the first instance and what kept you with it this long?
KEB: Initially I was intrigued by what BOBS had to offer, Standardisation and Quality Assurance. As you might be aware, while these fields are Science and Engineering based, they are not offered in schools and therefore I was interested in understanding them better. I was also interested in contributing to the improvement of Quality of products and services in Botswana. What kept me this long is that I could not learn enough. I found out that in fact there was more to what BOBS had to offer than what I initially thought. I found out that there was too much to learn. For instance, I never related BOBS with Business Management. I didn’t know that Certification is all about Best Business Management Practices. I initially only related it with Quality, I didn’t know that in fact it improves Quality by inculcating Best Business 2 Management Principles which are needed to improve and maintain the right quality and the requisite efficiencies. So, as I kept on learning, I came across many difficult challenges which made me realise I haven’t learned enough especially that I also developed interests in leadership, but I didn’t have the requisite qualifications nor experience since I only had BSc (Chemistry) which is not enough for leadership and management. These challenges propelled me to go for MSc (Strategy) and eventually LLB degree in order to acquire basics of Business Management, Corporate Governance and Industrial Relations, and so I kept on rising amid very serious challenges.
What are you bringing into this position – and the legacy you intend to leave?
KEB: Apart from over 20 years of experience in Standardisation, Quality Assurance and Regulatory Compliance, eleven years of which at executive level, I bring the requisite Corporate Governance and Industrial Relations knowledge as well Change Management. While BOBS Mandate as provided for by the Standards Act of 1995 is proper for the organisation of its nature, I would like to see BOBS Strategies and its overarching Objectives aligned with Government Priorities. For Instance, we need to have objectives that can enable us to develop appropriate measures which can inform our deliberate initiatives to contribute to Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP). These will enable us to measure our contribution to priorities such as SMMEs development, Private sector development and Export development, and therefore our contribution to the creation of a sustainable economy. We should not only be interested in the number of Certified companies, but also in the impact of such certification on such companies as well as the impact of certification on exports – are certified products and services accessing export markets and if not why not? BOBS impact on the economy should be visible. To that end amongst other solutions, we have developed the National Quality Policy (NQP) which is geared towards the achievement of these very aspirations. The NQP is awaiting Parliament approval. That’s the legacy I want to leave.
What are the major challenges facing the organisation and how are you intending to overcome them?
KEB: There are many challenges, but at BOBS we take challenges as bridges to be crossed and as beacons to duty. The most notable currently is the financial constraints which negatively affect delivery of our mandate as well our Revenue Generation capacity as it has amongst others resulted in freezing of vacant positions some of which are key to revenue generation. In order to alleviate this situation, we have developed a Revenue Generation and Cost Containment Strategy which is geared at enhancing our Revenue generation capacity as well as implementation of strict Austerity measures.
As an enforcer of adherence to standards this could often be a daunting task due to organisations that often fail to comply – do you have the power to enforce and take legal action against offenders?
KEB: Yes, the Standards Act of 1995, and the Weights and Measures Act of 2006 provide the mandate to enforce the Compulsory standards and Trade Metrology services respectively. These are necessarily consumer protection services aimed at protecting the Health and Safety of the humans, Animals and the Environment as well as protecting the value for consumer’s money. Non-compliance to certain provisions of both Acts constitutes an offense punishable by law. While that may be the case, in order to keep abreast of best practices, we have developed a draft National Quality Policy (NQP) which will enable us to improve our Technical Regulation Framework (TRF) as well as our National Quality Infrastructure (NQI).
How many companies have you taken action against in the past year?
KEB: Enforcement action is undertaken in many varying forms. For instance, between 2020 and 2021 BOBS instituted a recall process over 56 trading outlets. During the same period 16 warning letters were issued to non-compliant outlets, barring them from offering reconditioning of fire extinguishers and fire hose reels. Furthermore, one fine of P1000 was imposed on one business outlet.
Explain the importance of standards and value of having organisations adopt ISO standards?
KEB: The importance of standards and the adoption of ISO standards cannot be overemphasized especially Compliance and Certification: a) Through certification a company is Forging a Lifelong partnership in which BOBS will provide third party quality assurance and promotion of the quality of your services. b) Compliance to Top management commitment will ensure that quality matters are taken seriously resulting in high quality service leading to the requisite customer satisfaction. c) QMS practices will assist the company to Attain the ability to identify and address risks and opportunities associated with its mandate, context and objectives. d) Continual implementation of Corrective actions will enable one to attain continual improvement of the quality of services resulting yet again in the much-needed customer satisfaction. e) Adherence to Continual improvement (Kaizen) will propel one to being a supplier of choice thereby boosting Organizational competitiveness. f) The practice of doing it right the first time will result in Improvement of efficiencies and effectiveness as well as improvement of TAT. 4 g) Proper documentation and implementation of procedures will provide one with the ability to consistently provide products or services that meet regulatory and customer requirements. h) License to use and apply our Quality mark on your marketing materials will provide one with an internationally recognized Marketing tool. i) Our overarching value proposition is to facilitate the attainment of sustainable business for our clients.
How has Covid-19 affected your organisation’s operations and how have you dealt with that?
KEB: Like all other organizations, COVID 19 had both positive and negative impacts. The negative being that while by the Grace of God, we did not have fatalities, we were hit by continued isolations which impacted negatively on our capacity to deliver on our mandate which necessitated us to enable our staff to work from home and unfortunately, we were not prepared financially as were already running a deficit budget but we still dug deep into our finances to acquire IT gadgets for working from home. On the positive front, COVID taught us work remotely, such as holding virtual meetings and it increased our ability to work from the station. Currently almost all our meetings are held virtually including Standards Council meetings. This had improved our efficiencies and effectiveness in delivery of our mandate.
Covid-19 resulted with some organisations taking advantage to supply poor quality medication supplies i.e. sanitisers, masks and related – has your organisation handled such cases to restore order?
KEB: As you may be aware, in order to combat the effects of COVID 19, amongst others Government developed and implemented the COVID 19 Regulations, which mandated BOBS to enforce Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizers. I can confirm that we did not only enforce these regulations, we also provided testing of such sanitizers for free from 2020 to February 2021 as well as provide free Standards for Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizers. In this work, my sincere gratitude goes to BOMRA, Department of Industrial Affairs (MITI – DIA) and the Botswana Police Services (BPS) who worked tirelessly with us to ensure compliance to the Regulations.
Do you have sufficient skilled personnel to deliver on your organisation’s mandate?
KEB: I can confirm that while most of the requisite skills are available, we still need more especially on the Business Management, Company Secretary Performance monitoring skills as well as more technical expertise.
Often after difficult economic cycles like Covid-19 companies tend to talk about restructuring – are you also looking into this?
KEB: Since we have developed a new Corporate Strategy for 2022-2025, we need to Review our Organisational Structure to ascertain its ability to deliver this strategy as well as take into account the requisite skills mentioned above. Restructuring is an all-inclusive and rigorous exercise that requires involvement of MITI, labour authorities, union and staff. So, at this moment we cannot talk restructuring. We can only talk organisational review as restructuring can only be informed by the results of the review and our ability to implement such results.
What partnerships does your organisation have or intend to build to improve on its delivery?
KEB: We have both International and local partnerships. We are a full member of ISO and ARSO and we are a corresponding member of OIML and BIPM. At domestic level we have MoU’s with various organizations both in private and public sector such as BEMA, BITRI, BoMRA, BITC, CIPA etc.
Qualifications: BSc (Chemistry)(UB), MSc (Strategy)(Derby), LLB(UNISA).
Your mentor: Ms Masego Marobela and Abdul Rahaman Napinda (late, MHSRIP)
Reading: Leaders – Myth and Reality by General Stanley McChrystal
Message to upcoming professionals: The measure of achievement is the amount of challenges associated with it. Challenges are beacons to duty not barriers. The combination of Hard and Smart work, Self-motivation, Focus, Self-discipline, Perseverance, High standard of professional conduct, High level of Integrity, Patience, Care for others and most importantly His Grace can facilitate excellence.
Hobbies: Reading Motivational, Leadership and Management books.
Family: Both my parents are late. I’m a father of four, two Girls and two Boys.