‘There’s power in fo­cus­ing emo­tions’

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

A sur­vivor. That aptly sums-up the life of Ba­sotho En­ter­prise De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (BEDCO) Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Robert Likhang. An en­tre­pre­neur, a life-coach, mo­ti­va­tional-speaker, leader, and man of the most hum­ble of begin­nings, Mr Likhang has vir­tu­ally seen it all, so to speak, and in this wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with Le­sotho Times (LT) re­porter, Retha­bile Pitso, demon­strates that noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble with re­spect for fel­low hu­man be­ings, hard work and self-belief.

LT: Could you give us a back­ground of who you are and your up­bring­ing?

Likhang: I was born in 1962 in Ha Ny­eye Ma­put­soe — a place very dear to me be­cause of that con­nec­tion. i have seen the vil­lage de­velop from a purely ru­ral area to the metropoli­tan it is to­day. I did my pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion at Moselinyane LEC and then went to Ficks­burg Bridge Pri­mary school, as it was known then, which is to­day called Ma­put­soe ACL. I was the fourthbest stu­dent of the year in the Stan­dard 7 ex­ter­nal ex­am­i­na­tions, then i went to sa­cred Heart High School where I com­pleted Form E in 1981 and was the sec­ond-best stu­dent at the time.

LT: What were your big­gest chal­lenges and achieve­ments as you grew up and how have they con­trib­uted to the per­son you have be­come?

Likhang: I was raised by a sickly, sin­gle mother. So be­cause of that sit­u­a­tion, I had to re­sort to busi­ness to sup­port the fam­ily and put my­self through both pri­mary and high school with the money i gen­er­ated on my own.

i sold ap­ples, panty hoses, dresses and so forth, so i could pay my school fees and also take care of other house­hold ne­ces­si­ties. It was a hard life but I am grate­ful to God and the com­mu­nity i was raised in that my predica­ment pre­sented me with an op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire trad­ing skills at a young age. Whilst my coun­ter­parts herded cat­tle and sheep, i was ‘herd­ing the trade’.

i de­vel­oped trad­ing skills early and they came in handy dur­ing one of the many times I was strug­gling. I re­mem­ber not hav­ing enough money to pay my school fees when i was in Form A.

The mer­chan­dise i had was very lit­tle so i de­cided to change the trade to selling pota­toes in­stead so i could make money quickly and be­cause I could not af­ford to buy those pota­toes, i re­sorted to steal­ing them from some­one’s field dur­ing the night.

I felt bad about the in­ci­dent even though it was a new strat­egy nec­es­sary dur­ing those hard times. in the long run, i re­alised I needed peo­ple to help me run my busi­ness so I found my­self mo­bil­is­ing a football team whose mem­bers I in­vited to help with sales in ex­change for spon­sor­ship.

We started a football team called Moselinyane Young Cal­lies and I promised to buy them soc­cer balls. I would al­lo­cate each player an item to sell with half the prof­its com­ing to me and the rest be­ing used to buy soc­cer balls. I be­came a small en­tre­pre­neur in that sense.

LT: You speak a lot about Ma­put­soe, your home town. What was it like for you at the time, con­sid­er­ing your plight?

Likhang: When i was ad­mit­ted at sa­cred Heart High School, it was for­tu­nate they did not have a uni­form in the strictest sense. i could af­ford to buy cheap clothes that I used both for school and at home. I would also buy cheap clothes from Catholic nuns at St Mon­ica’s Mis­sion who used to get them as do­na­tions from Canada. So I be­lieve the area was con­ducive for my up­bring­ing.

LT: What did you want to be in life as you grew up?

Likhang: My great­est de­sire was to be a Char­tered Ac­coun­tant which how­ever, con- flicted with my other wishh to be­come a priest. And that cre­ated con­fu­sion­sion in my mind be­cause i looked at an ac­coun­tant oun­tant as some­one who de­sired money just like Ju­das is­car­iot and on the other hand, priests pre­sented a life of poverty and this was a real chal­lenge for me. I man­aged to pull throughugh high school but the prob­lem came when I had to at­tend ter­tiary. I was ad­mit­ted at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho (NUL) forr a Bach­e­lor of Arts (Eco­nom­ics) de­gree, butt at the same time, my mother’s ill­ness got worse and i had to drop the ad­mis­sion to at­tend to her. These things hum­ble­dled me and robbed me off my pride be­cause I was un­able to seize op­por­tuni-ppor­tu­ni­ties as they came. i thought­ght that was the end of ev­ery­thingg i had dreamed of.

LT: So how did you move on from this set­back?

Likhang: I went back k to Sa­cred Heart High School hool where i taught for a year and dur­ing this time, i stud­ied book­keep­ing and the­ol­ogy. ol­ogy. A year later, I was re­cruite­dited by Le­sotho Bank (now stan­dard dard Le­sotho Bank) where i worke­drked in the in­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (it) depart­ment.

As a re­sult of my job, I had to aban­don the the­o­log­i­cal course se to study it for a diploma in COBOL pro­gram­ming. Af­ter ob­tain­ing my IT qual­i­fi­ca­tion, I con­tin­ued my the­o­log­i­calal pur­suit and was helped by the Churchh of Christ to com­plete my diploma in bib­li­cal stud­ies to be­come a part-time preacher — a course which sat­is­fied the spir­i­tual side of things for me. How­ever, I con­tin­ued with my ac­count­ing stud­ies un­til i fi­nally qual­i­fied as a Char­tered Man­age­ment Ac­coun­tant and a Char­tered sec­re­tary. Char­tered Sec­re­taries ad­vise com­pany boards on cor­po­rate gov­er­nance.

I be­came a Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the Le­sotho In­sti­tute of Ac­coun­tants (LIA) — an or­gan­i­sa­tion that tremen­dously en­hanced my so­cial and in­ter­per­sonal skills. it was a place that al­lowed me to es­tab­lish net­works with peo­ple who were prac­ti­cal achiev­ers.

i later moved to the Le­sotho Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity (now Le­sotho Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity) where i started as a Fi­nan­cial An­a­lyst and ended up as the Di­rec­tor of Strate­gic Plan­ning.

LCA also ex­posed me to a broader in­ter­na­tional net­work where i de­vel­oped skills in life and busi­ness coach­ing. I also had a chance to work with FSBP Group in South Africa where among other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, I be­came the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Le­sotho sub­sidiary of Paragon Busi­ness Prod­ucts in charge of fi­nance. The chair­per­son of the board, Nor­man Adam, be­came in­volved per­son­ally in de­vel­op­ing me.

LT: You are cur­rently BEDCO’S Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer — a po­si­tion you have held since 2013. How did you end up at the paras­taal whose pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity is the es­tab­lish­ment and de­vel­op­ment of Ba­sotho-owned en­ter­prises?

Likhang: The cor­po­ra­tion, as you have said, is an en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment agency of gov­ern­ment and be­cause I per­ceived my­self as a con­sul­tant who brings so­lu­tions to the ta­ble, i thought i had the nec­es­sary ex­pe­ri­ence i could ap­ply.

At the time, BEDCO was hit­ting rock bot­tom and what i saw was an op­por­tu­nity to turn it around. un­for­tu­nately, there were a num­ber of chal­lenges among them cul­ture, pro­grammes that were not clear and well cut­off, struc­tures that needed to be worked on and con­di­tions around the place which did not por­tray a good im­age and rep­u­ta­tion for BEDCO.

I was not in­tim­i­dated by any of those chal­lenges be­cause they pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity for me to ex­cel at what I do best. Now twoand-a-half years into my con­tract which ends in Jan­uary next year (2016), I am happy with the progress i have made. or­gan­i­sa­tional im­age pro­grammes and sys­tems are in place; the work-cul­ture is in check but we need to work on it along the way in or­der to en­hance pro­duc­tiv­ity.

I also sit on nu­mer­ous boards such as those of the Le­sotho Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LNDC), a South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) or­gan­i­sa­tion called De­vel­op­ment Fi­nance re­source Cen­tre, as well as the south­ern African di­vi­sion of the in­sti­tute of Char­tered sec­re­taries & Ad­min- is­tra­tors (known(kn as Char­tered sec­re­taries south­ern Africa).Afr i have also sat on the Le­sotho Rev­enue Au­thor­ity board, and I am also a speaker h hav­ing par­tic­i­pated in nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tion­al­in­ter­na­tiona con­fer­ences.

LT: You ha have talked ex­ten­sively about the in­terac in­ter­ac­tion you have had with the many peop peo­ple you have met in your life. What is the ad­vice you nor­mally give to peo­ple look look­ing for suc­cess?

Likhang: it it’s strange how we all need as­sis­tance from o other peo­ple to reach our goals. That is whywh it is al­ways im­por­tant to iden­tify where you want to go and the peo­ple that can help you get there.

i al­waysalw say friend­ship is not a per­ma­nent­mane con­tract; friends need to be changed­chan as and when the need arises. if yo you want to de­velop in a par­tic­u­lar area,are be­friend peo­ple in that field whowh would steer you in the right di­rec­tion.d

That is not to say you should d dis­card old friend­ships but you n need to shed those that no longer a add value to your life. I use what I call a ‘Five H’ model in m my life. H stands for ‘head’ ‘heart’ ‘ha ‘hands’ ‘habits’ and ‘hang­outs’. The head means you need to be men­tally fo­cused; vi­su­al­ize where you are go­ing clearly; with with­out a pur­pose or a vi­sion in your head, you ar are not go­ing to get any­where. The heart stands for love, pas­sion, emo­tions.

What­ever your head is di­rected to­wards, what­ever yo your vi­sion, put your love, pas­sion and emo­tion emo­tions on it. some­times we are not able to succe suc­ceed be­cause we put our emo­tions in the wrong place rather than on our vi­sion so when the they are scat­tered around they do not have an im­pact.

Look at the sun­rays; you can place a piece of pa­per in the sun for ten months with­out the sun­rays burn­ing it. But if you take a mag­ni­fy­ing glass and con­verge those rays to one point, in ten sec­onds, the pa­per will burn. So there is power in fo­cus­ing emo­tions and vi­sions. The hands al­low you to ex­e­cute your vi­sion; with­out them the plan would not go any­where.

Habits for­mu­late what you are; if your habits are wrong, they would not ful­fill your pur­pose. The hang­outs are peo­ple you spend time with. You are a prod­uct of the peo­ple you hang out with. Choose peers that, if they beat you, that pres­sure di­rects you in the right di­rec­tion.

LT: What would you like to do af­ter your con­tract with BEDCO ends in Jan­uary next year?

Likhang: I have been run­ning a pro­fes­sional ser­vices firm be­fore, and I will turn to it. The firm, RL As­so­ci­ates, was in­volved in char­tered ac­coun­tancy, coach­ing, and con­sul­tancy. Coach­ing cov­ered life-coach­ing, busi­ness and ex­ec­u­tive coach­ing & men­tor­ship. i con­sulted in lead­er­ship, strat­egy, fi­nan­cials and gov­er­nance.

My cur­rent job at BEDCO has added en­ter­prise-de­vel­op­ment into my kit of skills. i am an ex­cel­lent ad­vi­sor and trainer with rare ca­pa­bil­i­ties which are dif­fi­cult to copy. I will re­sus­ci­tate that firm, and I can­not wait.

BEDCO CEO Robert Likhang.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.