Kago Kgosietsile – The Sturdy Hand at the Core of BIH’s Service Delivery
KAGO KGOSIETSILE – THE STURDY HAND AT THE CORE OF BOTSWANA INNOVATION HUB’S SERVICE DELIVERY
By Tigele Mokobi
Science and Technology Parks are inherently networked physical places that are managed in a manner designed to support university-industry and government collaboration with the intent of creating high technology economic development and advancing knowledge. Mainstream business literature defines networking as a socioeconomic business activity by which business people and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures. Networking helps business people to build their social capital.
“Business networking is an effective low-cost marketing method for developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions – either face-to-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites,” says world-renowned author, marketing expert, start-up advisor, and public speaker, Porter Gale.
In her book, Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success, and Happiness in the Digital Age, Gale asserts that a strong network is like money in the bank. “Networks can help one build visibility, connect with influencers, and open up doors for new opportunities. Building and nurturing a network is one of the most powerful things one can do to support their career advancement or build business growth,” she states.
Gale goes on to say that businesses function when they have customers or clients, and businesses survive and expand when they have good client service. Customer service is an extremely important part of maintaining ongoing client relationships, which are key to continuing revenue. Gale defines good client service as largely a matter of placing the customer first and making business decisions that allow the company to respond to market changes and provide customers with the best service possible.
At Botswana Innovation Hub, all employees are expected to contribute towards aquiring, enhancing, and retaining the company’s clients. However, the role of fostering business networks and handling the wide variety of customer inquiries, providing issue resolution, client communication, and overall customer satisfaction rests with Kago Kgosietsile. Buried somewhere in the makeup of Botswana Innovation Hub cadre is this unsung heroine who executes her duties quietly, calmly and diligently. Kago is the Client Relations Officer at Botswana Innovation Hub. She is essentially responsible for managing and protecting the relationship between the company and its clients.
Botswana Innovation Hub is incorporated as a company to develop and manage the country’s first Science and Technology Park. One of the company’s strategic objectives is to promote networking and collaboration between academia, public and private sectors in order to enhance innovation capacity. The company strives, “To serve the people of Botswana through a creative and networked innovation system which supports the goals of strengthening knowledge, productivity, competitiveness and economic diversification, leading to more resilient wealth creation, while being mindful to protect the environment.”
Botswana Innovation Hub is a member driven company which offers a suite of benefits for eligible registered members. The benefits include a concessionary 15% corporate tax rate; access to a range of technology transfer and commercialistation services; access to a technology entrepreneurship development programme; eligibility to import skills and personnel under special dispensation and networking, research and technical collaboration opportunities locally and internationally.
Botswana Innovation Hub CEO Alan Boshwaen says, “Networks and collaborations are the DNA of the company. They form the fabric of Botswana Innovation Hub as they help business people connect with other managers and entrepreneurs to further each other’s business interests by forming mutually beneficial business relationships.” Boshwaen goes on to say as a part a pioneering outfit and leader in the economic partnerships that drive development, good client, or customer, service should be the hallmark of Botswana Innovation Hub.
Since joining Botswana Innovation Hub in July 2012, Kago has worked tirelessly setting up processes and procedures that coordinate all registration and Botswana Innovation Hub member support activities. Her duties include developing and implementing best practices for registration and member support in accordance with strategic and operational plans for Botswana Innovation Hub. “I am responsible for processing applications and ensuring effective registration of qualifying entities as well as coordinating, monitoring and evaluating registered entities, including conducting annual site visits and interviews to ensure compliance to registration requirements,” she says.
“Building and managing strategic relationships with internal and external stakeholders to ensure collaborative support in providing an efficient and effective support network for member entities and continuous review and research on services rendered to members as well as identifying areas of improvements to service offering, forms part of my remit,” she states. Kago goes on to say she is a people’s person and derives immense pleasure and pride in her job which entails providing support to members and facilitating communication between members and internal departments and arranging membership network events working with the Cluster Development and Marketing departments.
Over and above all this, Kago liaises with the broad membership of the International Association of Science Parks and Arears of Innovation (IASP) which Botswana Innovation Hub is a member of, and conducts research in order to continuously improve processes and procedures for registration and member support initiatives. She facilitates administration of labour and tax dispensation applications and maintains accurate and current databases and client files.
Among the achievements Kago prides herself with is her facilitation of the growth of Botswana Innovation Hub membership base from 17 fully registered members to a total 82 incubator, network and fully registered members. She has also developed and implemented a Member Performance Monitoring Tool, developed and implemented a Registration Manual including supporting tools and templates and developed and implemented interim Client Relationship Management database.
Kago completed her Cambridge O’ Levels certification at Maru A Pula School in 1998. She went on to pursue an Advanced Certificate in Personal Computer Applications from NIIT in 1999 and the International Baccalaureate Diploma from United World Collage of the America West in 2001. In 2006 Kago graduated with a Bachelor of Economics from Rhodes University in South Africa and went on to acquire a Post Graduate Certificate in Information Systems Management from University of Liverpool in 2011 before crowning it all with an MSc in Information Systems from Kingston University in the UK the same year.
With a quiet, unassuming but sure-footed and foresighted demeanor Kago is alive to the omnipresence of the proverbial glass ceiling women face in the corporate world. “While we all get equal opportunity, it is an undeniable fact that women have to put in twice as much effort to make it in the corporate world,” she says. A doting hands on mother of two, she says mothers face enormous challenges juggling parenting with career development. Conversely she brings her motherly instinct to her role of nurturing relationships at the country’s cradle of scientific, technological and indigenous knowledge-based innovation.
“Women in the workplace face very strong cultural and career stereotypes that stifle their professional and personal growth. It is a hectic balancing game for us but I’m blessed with a strong role model in my mother and the support of my family,” she says. Kago is thankful to her parents for instilling the virtues of hard work ethic and integrity in her and her siblings. “The workplace gives one the sense that you can’t have both family and career and that you have to sacrifice one for the other but with focus, dedication and good support, the delicate work, live balancing act is possible,” she states.
Kago’s support for women empowerment is however qualified, she would rather women earn their place in the sun through merit and not through tokenism. She acknowledges that the empowerment of women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities but cautions against token appointments of women to positions of leadership.
Kago is a consummate result oriented, self-driven, team player who sets high standards and approaches her work with a calm, gracious but palpable gusto, passion and tenacity. She takes pride in her work and goes beyond the call of duty to deliver exceptional client service and offer them value beyond just services, “Because success in this industry is about much more than services — it’s about developing great business relationships. Customer service is the process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a great service that ensures customer retention. Retaining our clients helps expand our formal business networks and gives us a larger and more dynamic pool of members who meet to share information, exchange business leads and make referrals to fellow members,” she declares.
Asked what attributes are required for the pivotal role she plays at Botswana Innovation Hub, she responds, “One has to be accessible, patient, knowledgeable and courteous to do well in this role. Strong peoples skills which help harness interdisciplinary efforts to solve problems is another important attribute of a successful customer service representative.” And what motivates her to get up every morning and give it her all? “This is certainly one of the best jobs ever. It allows me to be part of a dynamic team of enthusiastic professionals who are building the country’s first science and technology park. However, for me, the technology entrepreneurship development programme is the most important aspect of the Botswana Innovation Hub business model because it develops young people. Working with young innovators and entrepreneurs is divine. Who doesn’t want to work with young, animated, forward thinking, game changers? The energy, creativity and zeal of the next generation of innovators, thinkers and entrepreneurs that surrounds me here thoroughly excites me. Surely some of that gets to rub off onto me…..” she quips.
Kago ends the interview by encouraging the girl child and young women who want to enter the corporate world to work hard and stay focused if they want to break through the corporate glass ceiling. With a finger on the pulse of Botswana Innovation Hub’s clients, Kago has intimate knowledge of its client’s welfare and with her formidable networks, smart and hard work ethic, passion and commitment, attitude and aptitude, the young lady has positioned herself well to ascend to the next generation of Botswana Innovation Hub’s executive leadership (Exco). Who knows, we have the future head honcho in the making here!