NamPost weathers the digital storm
NamPost CEO, Festus Hangula is a happy man. He leads one of the most successful state-owned-enterprises that have not asked for a bail-out despite the digital age that has seen emails, short message service and Facebook taking centre stage ahead of surface mail.
In the interview below, Hangula explains how NamPost is weathering the digital storms and opening new horizons in the banking sector.
PF: From the Social Security Commission to NamPost. Sounds like quite a shift. What prompted your move? Was Khomasdal too quiet for you?
FH: (Laughs.) You see, I spent a lot of my time around town. When you go to Khomasdal, you say ‘maybe I will still go to centre of the town’.
On a serious note, it was more of a career-shift issue looking at what could provide me with a business and professional challenge I need. An entity like NamPost, given its nature, gives you a bit more in terms of running a business from a commercial perspective. SSC, on the other hand, is a big entity but is obviously more on the regulatory and service provision side as dictated by law. But here, even if it is dictated by law, it undertakes commercial services. In fact, it is three or four businesses in one. Therefore, that challenge gives you a different perspective as an individual and provides a better avenue of growth and stimulation compared to SSC.
PF: What has been your experience since then?
FH: It has been a fairly good experience. I found a good team of focused people. We have a vibrant and diverse business environment. We have all aspects financial, the logistical side, of course, the traditional mail service and then you have the agencies.
What that gives you is a very wide framework of businesses and skills which requires different sets of skills to consider in order to ensure that all these business units are able to work together and realise the synergies envisioned of them.
So this is what I found and it is all very exciting in terms of how all these business units function and how to make them work better. For instance, if we work better, we will be able to realise the profits and so on. It is exciting and also very challenging but what I found on the ground is more or less what I had expected. As such, it makes me happy that I made this decision.
PF: Could you share with us the structure of NamPost. Who owns what?
FH: As a business, we were established by an Act of Parliament. The Act established a company called the Namibia Post and Telecommunication Holding Company (NPTH) which is our parent company that also owns Telecom and MTC. So the Government owns NamPost through its holding company, NPTH.
NamPost, as a company, owns two other companies: NamPost Financial Brokers (PTY) Ltd (PostFin) and Smart Switch Namibia. PostFin is a micro-lender.
Smart Switch Namibia, on the other hand, is 50%-owned by NamPost. Its primary role is to provide us with the technology used on smart cards. The smart cards are essentially issued or printed by Smart Switch Namibia.
Although that is its primary role, it can also expand in terms of the utilisation of technology for identification. You could use the card to verify that indeed this is Festus (for instance). It is in that context that we have GIPF pensioners using the smart cards. We use biometric technology so that should they still want to receive their pension through a post office, we would be able to correctly verify that indeed this pensioner is still alive and hence can continue receiving their pension.
PF: Would you, therefore, say this technology is a first for Namibia? Do you know of any other African country using this technology?
FH: I have not yet researched to find out whether or not there are banking cards based on the same technology elsewhere in Africa apart from Ghana which was introduced after Namibia. However, I am sure we are among the first countries to utilise it. The smart card is not a very popular technology, especially in the banking circles. I don’t know what the basic reasons are but the truth is that in terms of security, it is far more secure a product than the normal (ATM) cards we have.
PF: What is your mainstay-service - your banking or postal?
FH: Let me expand a bit more on the structure. Under NamPost, I always like to say we have four business units (even in terms of arrangement, there are three). We have the postal operations, which deal with your normal postal activities and parcels that are not urgent. There is also a component of philately for stamp collectors.
We have the mail services under the postal services. Under the same business unit, we have the agency services. I like to separate them in terms of identification but agencies are managed under postal services. The agency services are where we allow other organisations or companies to use the postal infrastructure to reach out to customers. These are things, we believe, can go along with our normal activities within the post office.
Then we have the courier. This is really just ‘courier’ (laughs). There is no add-on here. It is purely a courier business.
We have financial services, which are essentially the NamPost Savings Bank. Within the savings bank, we have three primary activities: savings, which is the Smart Card; normal investments that every ordinary individual can make use of and treasury products that essentially target businesses, mostly corporate and insurance clients linked to Smart Card.
While the insurance is part of the agency component, we actually operate it under the savings bank rather than putting it straight into the postal services because it is more closely related to other financial services.
PF: Looking at the technological evolution currently going on, are postal services still relevant?
FH: I believe that the postal services we have today are still relevant as they have ever been. What has changed is the emphasis. Certain things may be done slightly differently than before. But the essence of it is, we connect individuals by delivering messages from an individual to another; from a business to an individual or from a business to another business.
If we look at that as a service, that service will remain relevant. It is true, the mode of communication in terms of electronic formatting is significantly impacting on the postal services but that does not mean paper communication is dead. Paper communication will remain in the near future. But it is a given that it will reduce as time goes by. Digitalisation has impacted on us but at the same time, it gives us big opportunities that actually make some of our services even more relevant.
The question is how is that possible? If you went onto the internet, for instance and saw a few good things, it would be easy to order from the UK, the USA or elsewhere in the world. However, you would not receive your goods online. They would need to be physically delivered to you. That being the case, we have seen that in many markets, the parcel business is shooting up while the mail service is going down.
So we say, well, if that is the case, then let’s have the parcels moved to the courier business. It is true, in some instances; you order a commodity from say, the USA and want it to be delivered to you here within a week through the courier service. But in most instances, it’s never an urgently needed item, thus you would be able to wait for say, two weeks. So why not use the postal service, which is much cheaper and still be able to get your items within, say, a month and still be happy?
Therefore, this development provides another way of sustaining the postal business. All we need is to position ourselves in such a way that we are able to benefit from the activities generated by digitalisation. In as much as it hurts us, it also brings us great opportunities with regard to remaining relevant.
PF: Speaking of positioning yourselves, a look at the current courier business makes you realise it is being dominated by international players such as DHL and other upcoming courier companies. How will you achieve this?
FH: We have a product and a service valued by our customers. I believe that it is structured and priced in such a way that people are able to afford it. Indeed, we have international courier companies playing in this market too. But we believe that given our standing, our infrastructure and our proximity to our customers, we are stronger than anybody in the courier business in this country. We can always leverage off our other activities and this is why we have other business units.
As a matter of emphasising on the issue of the quality of our services, I am not saying that it is clean but evidence shows that we are doing something better than anyone else in the market. This is substantiated by our winning of the Golden PMR award for four consecutive years in the courier service category.
PF: As an SoE, we have hardly heard your company ask for Government bail-out. Your latest annual report indicates that you posted impressive financial results. Could you share with us your secret behind this?
FH: We are very happy about the status of the company. Since it was established, we are proud that we have not gone back to the shareholders to ask for additional funds. I must hasten to mention that there were years we did not make a profit but still managed to stay afloat. This rests on the commercial orientation and the way the business has been developed to make sure that it is able to sustain itself as much as possible.
In terms of the results, it is the direct consequence of diversifying the business to sustain it. We operate in a market that is impacted by what happens domestically and internationally. Part of it is often felt very quickly. Take the 2008 economics crisis for instance, all of a sudden, the mail volumes from Europe or outside Namibia just dropped.
The revenue of the postal services is intertwined. In other words, when you buy a stamp and send that letter to Germany, part of the cost is to actually deliver it to its final destination in Germany. Conversely, when people from Germany send mail here, part of the cost is for us to deliver that mail to the destination. Therefore, there is money exchanged between countries. So when there is a sudden drop, it impacts on the revenue.
We go through that but what has been done in between is to diversify the business. I am sure if you went (probably) 10 or 15 years back you would find that we might have been 70 or 80% dependant on the mail services but as time went by, other streams were introduced. In between, the courier service was added. The savings component was refurbished to introduce more products. We brought in the agency side of the business. And that has actually helped us to cushion the impact brought about on the mail services by evolving technological services.
PF: Obviously, this does not come cheap. How much are we talking?
FH: This is something we spend considerable time and resources at Board level on an annual basis. We look at our environment and how we are doing as a business. Then we craft a strategy as to what we are going to be doing for the next five years and the resources that will be involved.
On an annual basis, we meet and say, okay, given what we wanted to achieve this year, how did we do? Is there anything we need to change in our strategy or are we will still on course? So there is a lot of thinking that goes into it. Thereafter, we go to each individual business unit and make sure it is clear on what its targets are for the year and how it is going to go about it. And if it does not work, how will we act quickly enough to be able to achieve what we want to achieve? So, strategy is key.
PF: Looking at your annual report, there are some post offices and agencies, which made losses. Are there pertinent issues affecting them?
FH: That is one area where business hurts. We ensure that if we are not making profit, we know why. We do not just sit and do nothing. We have categorised post offices. Naturally, there are those that will never make a profit. Tsumkwe, for example. I know that we can do our best as a business to stimulate that post office but it will never reach profitability.
For those post offices, as long as we have gone through the details of establishing that the business activities within these communities are such that they will never be profitable, that’s fine. It’s our social responsibility to stick around. So we still give the best service possible.
Then we turn around and for argument’s sake pick on Ondangwa Post Office. We look at it and say, it is not making profit and it is because it’s unable to. Then we look around and say, well, we are actually in the midst of good business development. This is when we expect the head of department to be able to go there and strategise together with the regional managers and see how to bring it to profitability.
I know we will never eliminate unprofitable post offices. But those that sit in economically active areas must be at the level where they are profitable and most of them are.
PF: Do South African companies do business with you with regard to your mail hybrid initiative since they have more customers especially in the retail industry?
FH: The hybrid mail centre is an initiative that has been taken to encourage businesses to continue using postal services and it is doing fairly well. Essentially, what it does is take the burden off a company. As such, the company does not have to print all the statements, put them in an envelope, buy a franking machine and have stamps fixed on envelopes for tens of thousands of customers.
What we are saying is that within this centre, you send us your mail electronically and we print it out for you, insert it into envelops and frank the envelopes. In fact, we pre-sort them so that when they come out of the machine, Windhoek is on one side while Swakopmund and Lüderitz are on the other side. This makes it easier and quicker to send mails.
We have machinery. A quick glance at it all and you would think it is a factory. The printing and sorting are all done mechanically and you can do tens of thousands within just an hour. So that is the real idea we facilitate for big companies such as banks and telecommunication companies to send their statements quickly.
For the external entities, yes, you are right. If you went to the mail centre and saw the bags there, you would notice a substantial number of them come from some of the big South African companies that have retail businesses here. You may hold your account here. Unfortunately, the historical legacy is such that the computer server that has the accounts and information sits somewhere in South Africa and the printing of statements is thus done from that side.
In terms of trust to give us their business, the ability is here; we can do it. The question is whether or not it matters for that entity in South Africa to give that information to us. At this stage, it seems like it doesn’t really matter to them as they may be having two or three million accounts and to them it does not make sense to separate 10 000 of those that belong to Namibia . One can easily say it is not worth the effort.
They would rather do it the way they do it; that the mail goes through the post office in South Africa and then comes to Namibia. It’s not a complete loss to us. Like I said earlier, when you ship your envelope from your country to another country for delivery, we get paid for it. So, they pay for it.
PF: What is the formula for sharing this revenue?
FH: The postal business, being one of the oldest, is governed by international conventions of the Universal Postal Union, which regulates how we do postal businesses in the world. The formula on how you charge others is actually determined at that level. This then eliminates all sorts of complications.
PF: Let’s look at the financial services. Since we are all familiar with the smart cards, could you elaborate on the function of the treasury and how individuals and companies can or are benefiting from this?
FH: For individuals, we have the smart card that provides for two related services. One, it can be purely be for savings where one puts money in and earn interest. Then the second component is transactional. Here, one uses their smart card to buy something at a shop that has a NamPost card machine (point of sale). It can also be used to transfer money to a smart card holder in real time. It is also possible to deposit money on a smart card. So a smart card is one way of meet the savings and transaction needs of the people.
We also have pure investments like the call account. These investments allow one to have a fixed deposit account or a a 32-day notice account. It is highly beneficial because when you save your money with NamPost as an individual, you do not pay tax on interests earned.
But for corporates, it’s slightly different. Putting money here is just as good as saving it with commercial banks. The question is will you be able to get better service or better rates from NamPost or commercial banks? Evidence shows that the bulk of corporates actually feel that they get a better deal from NamPost and therefore we have a fairly big corporate portfolio. You will find that most corporate companies in this country have accounts with NamPost for investment purposes.
PF: How do you clinch such big and lucrative business deals where there is cut-throat competition with commercial banks?
FH: There are three important elements for a corporate customer. One, of course, is the service. The second would be the rates and the third, the security of the funds. Will I be able to get my money back from NamPost? What’s the risk of trusting my money with NamPost as compared to a commercial bank?
Simply put, the good thing is that we are owned by Government. Therefore, our deposits are guaranteed by Government. That helps in terms of security that, indeed, the customer’s money is secure. What is left, therefore, is to bargain for a good rate and good service.
Given that corporates decide to keep their money with us, it shows they have high expectations with regard to receiving the best services.
PF: With all that’s happening, should we therefore expect to see an exodus of corporate clients from commercial banks to NamPost in the future?
FH: It would have been great if we reached that level but one should realise that in the corporate world, the bigger the corporate the higher the skills in terms of understanding how financial markets work. Working in financial markets actually lets you understand that it is not advisable to have all your money saved with one financial institution. That being the case, there will always be a share for everybody.
PF: How do you manage the fleet issue given the long distances involved?
FH: When it comes to courier services, the biggest single cost of running a courier company is transportation. It’s very easy to put up a courier company overnight. All one needs is a bakkie. But that’s where the customers sometimes make a mistake. I come up to you in my bakkie; you give me your business item. I do a great job for two or three months but due to the intense activities on the road, the bakkie breaks down and that’s the end of business for the next two to three weeks. That is when you realise you didn’t get a good person to do business with.
But we have been in the business for some time now. Our structure is set up in such a way that we will be able, one way or the other, to replace that broken down vehicle with another as soon as possible and be able to deliver the item to you.
With that said, you not only need to have a very good structure but also a very trustworthy supplier. That’s when one would say, ‘I want my truck to be serviced to leave this morning so I can be at the loading depot by 4pm’ and that person should be able to do that. Obviously, we are very strict in making sure that the vehicles are serviced and have replacements should there be a problem. That’s why when a truck leaves Windhoek for Oshakati; it will be back without much fuss because we have the resources and infrastructure.
PF: How do you manage your commercial negotiations because it seems you have drawn big players in the industry?
FH: The key component for this kind of service is to make it convenient for the customers. If you go to a post office and spend, say 10 minutes, you will be able to achieve much more than if you choose to go to a bank. If you go to a bank, all you would achieve will be dealing with your account. But if you go to a post office, you will probably buy yourself stamps; do your banking; pay your municipality bills and telephone account as well as buy your airtime. It may be 10 minutes there but it will have saved you a lot of time. You will not have to run from one place to another. That’s very important - convenience for our customers.
That being the case, we target and interact with other companies to assist them in providing their services in areas where they are are not represented. Then we look at the formula; how can we do it to the extent that it is cost-effective yet profitable for the business? Therefore, if it makes financial sense, we do it.
It is, of course, not always easy. In some instances, we are required to modify our systems to be able to interact with other companies’ systems. We have been doing it for some time now and have gained experience as to what can and cannot be done as well as what we can bring in the post office and what we cannot. As much as we want to make sure that the postal infrastructure is optimally utilised, we also don’t want to congest it to the extent that all of a sudden, our normal services can no longer be delivered effectively.
PF: We find the philately services you mentioned earlier very unique. What are the brains behind it?
FH: Our stamps are amongst the best in the world. They are sought after by collectors worldwide. We have a set up where it’s not just a question of me waking up and saying ‘let’s issue this stamp’. We go through a process where we have a committee made up of people from NamPost as well as those in the market; those who have a keen interest in stamps and stamp-collection and so on.
We bring these people together on an annual basis and then look at what themes to issue categorically. We broadly agree on the general themes first. Then we run through the specifics, we can actually say well, the theme should be based on small animals. Later, we could meet and say, what animals would look better? Which ones would people and collectors prefer? Then we go through those details and choose which ones to use.
So it is a well-organised and managed process that ultimately gives you the result that makes you say ‘yes, this is the stamp!’ We have people who have the technical know-how of stamps. You will notice that our stamps are not just pictures; they are actually drawn by artists. Remember, stamps are small, yet artists normally work on large surfaces. Thus, this cannot be achieved by your ordinary artist. We have some special artists in the country who are specialised in stamp design. They are the ones who do those fine and small portraits. They are so good you would think they are pictures.
PF: How do you retain these special skills and are they being passed on to the next generation?
FH: Unfortunately, we have a bit of a challenge on that. We currently have only two very good artists. It is an issue we have shared at some of our fora; how to ensure that we have a new generation of special artists who will be able to do this. Our philately department is working on seeing whether or not we can get, particularly, young people interested in this kind of art.
It is not, necessarily, the kind of art that will earn you big money but you have to love stamps to be able to dedicate your time to such tiny details. But yes, it is a challenge to get those special artists who are interested in expanding their skills so that we make sure that going into the future, we will continue to have the kind of stamps that are acclaimed worldwide as we have today.
PF: Taking a hard look at the role of ICTs through the GMS, how has it enabled you in expediting your services as well as reducing parcel theft?
FH: IT is very critical to the business. We use the GMS technology component to facilitate the physical mail. What this helps us do is for, when I say that a letter from Frankfurt must reach Windhoek within a specified period, I need to be able to verify that. Thus, these types of machines have been installed at strategic entry points so that the moment a mail gets from the plane into the warehouse at the Namibian international airport, the GMS machine will be able to report that this mail is at this point.
This is not done with every single mail but there are people strategically positioned to actively pump in specially tagged envelopes that have the IT chip that sends signals from wherever it is so that the moment a letter passes through the airport, it notifies the information collectors who are part of the Universal Postal Union who regulate mail worldwide.
We have one set up at the southern Industrial Area mail centre. For instance, when it reaches there, it will automatically report that the mail reached the airport two days ago but only reached the mail centre two days later. Begs the question; what could have happened? The order of things is that if it comes in the morning, by mid-day, it should be at the mail centre.
There’s another one here (referring to the NamPost main station) which will tell exactly how long it took to get mail from a certain point to the next.
The whole idea behind this is to determine what is called ‘quality service’. How long does it take for a mail to move from a certain point to the other? European countries and even the USA will raise penalties if we do not deliver mail within the stipulated standards. It helps us to make sure the mail is delivered on time and that we are not guessing.
Let me tie this in with the issue of parcels where we say, we really do not want to have cases of parcel theft. If one puts it in context, they understand we handle large volumes of mail - over a hundred million pieces per year. At this stage now and again a parcel goes missing or it is tampered with. But again, within the context of things, it is a very tiny percentage but that said, it doesn’t take away the fact that every single parcel is very important to the person who sent it. And we want to make sure that the parcel really reaches is destination. GMS is not helping us much on that but we have put up other mechanisms that will make sure it is very difficult to tamper with the parcels and when it’s done, it’s easy to detect and bring the culprits to task.
So our services are relatively good but there is still a lot to be improved on. We have a certificate from the Universal Postal Union (UPU) issued in 2008; Silver award. This year, we have already been informed that we will be receiving a silver award. So, somewhere, there are things that we are doing well as a postal operator but there are still a lot of areas we can improve on.
PF: Having mentioned the UPU, there are a number of bodies such as SAPOA (Southern Africa Postal Operators Association), PAPU (Pan-African Postal Union), how are some of these institutions helping NamPost fulfill its mandate? What are some of the best practices you are learning and applying in the Namibian space?
FH: The UPU is the ultimate body that looks at all the regulations and conventions for postal services in the world. We are talking about the issuing of the stamps and delivery of mail. Again a stamp is not something you do your own way. There are regulations around what you can put on a stamp and what you cannot. A stamp must meet the criteria set by the UPU before you sign it off. That’s how strict the process is.
The UPU is the key body which covers all postal operators in the world. Then we have regional bodies. In the African region we have PAPU (Pan-African Postal Union). Below PAPU, we have SAPOA (Southern Africa Postal Operators Association). What happens then is that we look at what is going on on the ground. After evaluating all issues, we are in a position to say what works for us as a region. We push this through SAPOA and then SAPOA pushes it to PAPU and then it goes to the UPU.
By so doing, it gives us the conduit to influence what is happening in the postal world at an upper level. Besides it helps in bringing us together as regional operators. We share experiences and ideas on how best we can perform our postal services.
PF: All this can, obviously, happen without looking at the issue of human resources. How then do you make sure you have a shared vision with your entire organisation in order for you to move in the same direction?
FH: It is, particularly, important within the institution where we are looking at transforming the way we do business. This means we need to diversify since we are getting into areas of business our people may not be familiar with.
Starting with the strategic plan, we make sure that it is not only the CEO and executive management sitting in the meeting as we set the strategy. We bring in people who are responsible for the business within the regions. Our regional managers are part of the team mapping the strategic plan. When we agree that we are going to introduce a new way of doing things, instead of their heads of department telling them that they go and do that, they already have an inside knowledge of why we are going that way. I think that helps in the filtering of information.
I also encourage business heads to have mini-strategic meetings within their departments prior to the main strategic meetings. That helps in soliciting ideas from everybody within the department so that when the head of department and management comes to the strategic meeting, they have some input coming from the ground.
It is one thing to set up a big vision to say this is where we are going and it’s another thing implementing it. If the people down there don’t see the essence of the idea, it’s very easy to see problems rather than solutions. So they will probably see all kinds of problems and in the end they will feel discouraged.
It’s much better if people are closer to the business units in their region. A person in Katima is much closer to the regional manager who is responsible for that region than they will be to the head of the business unit who is sitting in Windhoek. That’s why we need people in the regions to be equally comfortable with the vision. It’s still not perfect and that’s why we are still coming up with newer initiatives. We hope that during the course of the next financial year, we will be able to come up with a better format of getting the ideas all the way to the ground so that it doesn’t matter who you, you should actually see yourself as part of the bigger picture. We are still working on that.
PF: Whilst we are there, how do you service your clients?
FH: We want to give our clients that feeling where they look forward to going to the post office, instead of dreading going back. We need to cultivate that kind of skill of making the customer feel like that. It doesn’t come overnight. We are coming from an environment where, originally, you must come to the post office. If you want to send your message you must come to the post office.
But we are now moving away from that. Customers can send an email instead of sending an envelope. They can use a courier company other than NamPost. We are working hard on training our staff in skills of interacting with customers. Ultimately, customers should feel more welcome to the post office and when they leave they are happy.
There is still a lot to be done. There are a few things we have implemented and are having an impact on the ground. Now and then we carry out a survey just to check how customers feel about us. Our customer satisfaction rating is well above 80%, which is commendable but again that remaining 20% is very important. Sometimes, it can be one percent but those customers can be vocal if the services are not delivered the preferred way.
There is still room for improvement but when I look at the first survey we did, I think we had 80% and the last one was 84%. It’s actually indicating that we are getting somewhere with what we are doing.
PF: What are some of the latest products you are offering and how is the market taking them?
FH: We haven’t launched many products recently but there has been refurbishment of a few products. I am sure one of them is the hybrid you just mentioned earlier. We also have the kiosk where customers are able to buy air-time and deposit their parcels instead of coming to the post office. The reception is relatively slow but it’s expected with items like that because you are not just dealing with something new but you are also dealing with normal thing of being afraid of technology. I am sure, once we go beyond that, the response and utilisation will increase.
We are all looking forward to the digital post boxes and that again, we believe, will be a unique offering in the sense that it is something that can only be done by a post office. Because it is going to be done within the regulations and requirements of the UPU which has already put up the infrastructure and launching in October 2012. Through this all, postal operators using the digital boxes will have to plug in. So it is an exciting development. It’s called the. Post.
PF: What happened to Western Union?
FH: There was no formal business with Western Union but, as a company, we continuously interact with companies in the market. Our approach is such that if we can work together and we can achieve what we cannot on our own we cooperate. It is in that context that there might have been talks with Western Union in exploring opportunities of working together. If there are still opportunities, we will pursue them but for now there is nothing.
PF: How is the initiative of sending money within the Sadc region through Post Offices progressing?
FH: The initiative is still alive. This is one of the items being co-ordinated by SAPOA. It’s possibly not moving at the pace which it ought to because if you look at the system of putting money in this post office and then someone receives it in Botswana, the question is how much volume is there between Namibia and Botswana and alternatively how much volume is there between Namibia and South Africa?
But the initiative is still on the ground. Some regional countries have completed and put the system in place. In fact, there are two systems. There is one developed by South Africa and they make it readily available to other postal operators.
The other one is developed by the UPU and they make it available to everybody. It is more of a business case; does it make business sense for me to have the system or not? Ultimately, communicating is one idea but it must make business sense. You cannot tell me that putting up a system that costs one million but makes a profit of N$10 000 - you are making a good business decision (laughs).
PF: In closing, let’s look at your Corporate Social Investment. You focus mostly on cancer and so forth which are important in any case but given the high HIV prevalent rate in this country, how does your policy take care of this issue?
FH: We do have activities that touch a bit on HIV but we probably haven’t been as vocal on the outside. But internally, we do encourage our staff, in terms of interaction within individual communities, to make sure that contributions are made toward those efforts.
It is an item we have championed. It’s not that we don’t believe it is not important but we may not be best positioned to contribute to that cause as we do to others. For example, you mentioned cancer and our contribution, which is fairly big, is actually done knowing that we are giving what we have as an advantage for Bank Windhoek. When they collect the apples, we actually transport them country-wide. We are using our business strategic advantage to deliver the social aspect.
PF: Thank you, Mr Festus PF
He has it all - an impressive CV, a sound career path backed-up with solid results... NamPost current CEO, Festus Francisco Hangula, is destined for greatness, we say.
Hangula epitomises the life of a typical village boy who lands in the board-room not by default but by sheer hard work and determination.
From a humble beginning in Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region, Hangula has never allowed his circumstances to weigh him down.
In 1985, the former Oshigambo High School learner matriculated with an exemption thus paving way for his impeccable career path. As they say, the rest is history.
After a stint in the teaching field, Hangula went to the USA where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, which he obtained with a cum laude from Concordia College in Minnesota.
While in the USA, he claimed his worth after being listed in “Who is Who Amongst International Students in the USA” as one of the most outstanding students.
From there, there was no looking back.
In 1999, he obtained his MBA in Finance jointly awarded by the Manchester Business School and the University of Wales in the UK.
His thesis on “Interest Rate Risk Management” would earn him a distinction.
In 1998, Hangula graduated with a distinction as a Fellow of the Macro Economic and Financial Institute of East and Southern Africa (MEFMI). He attributes his expertise in investment, particularly, treasury to this qualification.
“That primarily further developed my skills in investment, which is my area. I spent a lot of time in it,” he says.
As an MEFMI Fellow, Hangula regularly conducts investment courses in Namibia and in regional countries such as Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania.
Besides his formal qualification, Hangula has also attended numerous top notch short courses and conferences regionally and overseas.
These have helped him develop the depth he now falls on in executing his duties in a trying business environment.
Hangula does not subscribe to one form of leadership. For him, the situation at hand determines what can be done.
His foundation in management skills were dug deep from the Bank of Namibia where he spent close to 13 years.
True ingenuity saw him playing a pivotal role in both strategic and special achievements including assisting in establishing the Treasury Department and drafting the Investment Policy for Bank of Namibia (BoN).
He would later be distinguished by BoN as the most disciplined manager in meeting deadlines while producing quality output.
In terms of business skills and developing the clout to run a business, Hangula is proud to say he gained these at the First National Bank of Namibia (FNB) while working as the head of Treasury and Specialised Banking Services from 2003 until 2006 when he left for Social Security Commission (SSC).
While at FNB, he made very special contributions, such as upgrading the Treasury, cutting expenditure as well as stimulating revenue growth with some sources showing consecutive doubled revenue, thus recording the best year ever.
When he left the SSC, he was satisfied that he had created the stability the Commission needed by crafting some policy frameworks that have taken the commission forward to date.
One of the notable achievements is that he established and implemented a debt collection plan, which saw nearly N$30m collected.
The similar trend followed him at NamPost as per the annual report 2011 where the parastatal achieved the best financial results ever since its commercialisation.
The NamPost Group recorded an operating profit of N$30.4m from N$ 2.5m when he joined. These astounding results came against the background of a company that provides some of the core services as its social responsibility to the nation.
Hangula holds several directorships and memberships and currently serves as the commissioner of the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC), the deputy chairperson of the management board of the Southern Africa Postal Operators Association, a non-executive director of Retirement Fund Solutions and as a non-executive director of PhinCon Enterprises, to name but a few. PF