Ipeleng Selele : The woman who branded South Africa

Ipeleng Selele

To the ordinary person on the streets of any part of the world outside South Africa, the name Ipeleng Selele might not ring a bell. But this is one distinguished woman who has accomplished so much, yet who prefers to let her works speak for her.

Ms. Selele is noted for her instrumental role in conceptualising, developing and implementing an engagement and training project to empower key stakeholders as part of South Africa’s nation branding effort. Her role focused on getting them aligned to enhance South Africa’s reputation and global competitiveness.

Her contribution to the project, which was a landmark effort on the African continent, was enabled by the fact that she had accumulated diverse strategy experiences at the executive level in telecommunications, banking, media, pharmaceuticals, FMCG, IT, automobiles and construction, among others, which she leveraged for the national branding strategy.

Centered on a general theme ‘Alive with Possibilities,’ the strategy sought to position South Africa as a country full of tourism, business and investment opportunities ready and willing to welcome people of diverse interests from across the world.

Ms. Selele suggested on Leaders’ Digest, a special series on the Springboard, Your Virtual University, on Joy FM that the success of the project was driven by her passion for finding solutions to challenges facing society.

She believes that the national branding project succeeded in shifting people’s opinions away from branding as a preserve of businesses and organisations to a tool that can also be used by nations to promote themselves to the international community.

Ipeleng Selele, whose whole career revolves around strategy and branding was the tenth guest and first foreigner in the engaging series that has so far featured top leaders from various fields in Ghana. She is the founder and CEO of Khumo Group with subsidiaries in Consulting, Investment Holdings, Branding and Marketing. Khumo specialises in foreign market entry strategies especially in Africa and emerging markets.

She was part of the team that developed the Brand Strategy for France Telecom and Telkom Kenya Ltd. She is also currently repositioning the South African Maritime Authority. She has worked on projects in South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria, Angola and the UK.

“Most of the projects I work on are proactive proposals that I conceptualised from scratch and that is because I realised I am good at conceptualising ideas. I observe the gaps and come out with compelling and relevant solutions,” Ms. Selele told the host of the show, Reverend Albert Ocran.

“On nation branding, I actually came up with a proactive proposal and approached Brand SA and they went on tender. I competed on merit and I got,” she added.

Understanding nation branding

The CEO of the Khumo Group explained that nation branding involved getting the various public servants and institutions onboard to collectively project and reflect the ideals of the country, she said, explaining further that nation branding was all about coming out with the DNA or identity of the country.

“Branding SA was about formulating a blue print on what the country is all about and what we did was to come out with the DNA of South Africa and say that that particular thing is encompassing about our country. In our case, that core message was ‘Alive with Possibilities’ and we then developed our communication around that,” she said.

True pan-Africanist

Beyond the national branding initiative, which she holds dear to her heart, Ms. Selele is also passionate about maritime and ports services, an area she says holds the key to the development of intra-African trade.

“I am a true pan-Africanist and I am all about intra-African trade and I clearly understood and did my homework on what is it that will increase intra-African trade and I realised that our economies actually lie in the ports and logistics,” she said.

“You can have the best product ever but how do you move it from A to Z? When you look at the role that ports, rail and road play in our economies, you realise it is crucial and that is why I have so much passion for it,” she added.

Core values

On the three pillars that hold her life, she mentioned excellence, daring to be different and being truthful to herself.

“I simply do not conform. I stick to what I am passionate about and what it is that I would want to achieve. I am one of those people who want to choose the road less travelled and in fact, the more difficult it gets, the more exciting it is for me,” she explained.

Challenges, she said, do not discourage her but test her determination, enthusiasm and the passion that keeps her going.

Childhood upbringing and advice

While paying glowing tribute to her father, who she said gave her a tough upbringing, Ms Selele believes that working parents need to spend quality time with their children.

“If you were to ask me what my treasure is, it will be how I was brought up. I was raised by an amazing father. I always say that mothers are always there for us but once you have a father who will be there for you, who will tell you how beautiful you are and that you are untouchable, that to me it is the most important thing a young girl can have. I was raised by tough love and it has impacted positively on me,” she said, adding that her relationship with men in the corporate world has been influenced by her upbringing.

To fathers raising their daughters, she said “love your daughters. Paying attention, being home and assuring them that they are the best girls on earth will ensure that they do not go out there to seek affirmation. Most of the strong and successful women that I have come across have in one way or the other been raised by very good fathers,” she added.

Having said this, Ms. Selene added, “if you let your business life run your personal life, you will be in trouble.” GB

source : graphic.com.gh