Having started from humble beginnings as a waiter, going up the ladder to management positions, Lempheditse Odumetse is one of the first few locals to break the notion that management positions within the tourism industry were only a preserved for expatriates.
The Ngami Times this week caught with the Maun native, who is popularly known as ‘MC’ and was in April appointed to the position of Group Managing Director for Chobe Holdings, one of the country’s leading tourism companies.
MC has worked for the group under various companies for 23 years, having started as a waiter, greeting and serving guests. From 1999 Odumetse rose up the ranks from the initial position to the commanding positioning he was appointed to in April this year.
Through hard work and dedication, MC remains grateful to have been one of the first locals to benefit from the deliberate effort by the company to develop and empower locals into positions of management. At the time he was promoted to become the Assistant Camp Manager and later Manager of the Xugana Island Lodge in 2005, Odumetse was reportedly the second citizen manager within the group.
“I am grateful for working for a company that has a philosophy and a vision from 40 years ago that is going to localise the positions they have. This is what they believe in, to give everyone an opportunity for them to grow themselves, work hard and grab more opportunities” Odumetse said.
He acknowledged that the local tourism industry had shortage of skills and there was need for some expert skills hence the recruitment of expatriates. But he notes for their company the idea was for them to transfer such skills to the locals.
“The company set up a policy from way back that we bring in expatriates for positions for two to three years but we need to make sure that there is a Motswana underneath for transfer of skills,” he explained, noting that has been achieved. He highlighted that from the current 865 employees of the companies, 98 % of these positions have been localised.
After joining Desert & Delta Safari as a waiter at Camp Moremi in Xakanaxa (Moremi Game Reserve), Odumetse went on to become a barman. After he studied to become a professional guide he was later transferred to Xugana Island Lodge for the position until 2005 when promoted to the assistant manager position of the same came before becoming its manager. He has also managed Camp Okavango and Savute Safari Lodge following his return from United States of America where underwent on a cultural exchange programme at Disney World Florida.
It was in 2013 was promoted to become Assistant General Manager for both Ker & Downey Botswana and Desert & Delta Safaris at the group’s head office in Maun before ascending to the General Manager for Ker & Downey. Before becoming Managing Director of Chobe Holdings Group, Odumetse also held positions of Operations Director for Ker & Downey Botswana and Group Operations Director for Chobe Holdings.
Because of his childhood upbringing and inspiration by one of his uncles who worked in the safari industry, his love for nature was borne.
“My kindergarten has always been different from others who would get a pack of sandwich, mine was go out with nothing climb the tree, eat the wild fruits make a little trap, this then got me hooked up to nature,” he said.
He added, “I learned a lot of the skills in my early child hood and I wanted to share my skills to different people coming from the rest of the world. That was why I wanted to get involved in working in the bush.”
Odumetse has since advised youngsters looking up to him to work hard, not to be selective of jobs even when they are degree holders assuring them that opportunities will present themselves as time goes on.