The vision and future
An exclusive interview with NIP CEO- Augustinus Katiti
There has been many merits to learn from the NIP for other state owned enterprises which range from good governance to effective delivery of goal. Behind all this is Augustinus Katiti who is at the helm of the institution and driving the its vision. Confidente interviewed Katiti on the present and future of the NIP
How does it feel to be at the helm of NIP and how can you describe the journey so far?
I feel rather privileged to be part of the NIP Family. NIP is a great company with equally outstanding employees, and provides essential life-saving medical diagnostic services. Research has shown that 70% – 80% of all healthcare decisions affecting diagnosis or treatment involve a pathology investigation through medical laboratory service providers such as NIP. Pathology is therefore central to the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular conditions, tuberculosis (TB) and diabetes.
My journey thus far has been quite exciting, very instructive and rather revealing. Yes, it has not always been a pleasant journey, nor was the road travelled always straight and without obstacles; but as the saying goes: “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere”.
Strategically, how do you motivate your employees and drive the mandate of the NIP forward?
It is worth to note that no matter how hard you drive people to achieve a common goal, if they are not happy then they will be indifferent regarding the achievement of the intended outcome. Happiness at workplace is therefore a key ingredient commonly found in any motivated workforce. Treat colleagues with respect and like adults, act in a fair but firm manner, be kind, trust, tolerate mistakes but hold each individual accountable for his/her actions. Allow colleagues to think independently, embrace diversity, reward well, communicate openly and set high standards at all times.
Experience has also taught me a valuable lesson….not only creating or encouraging but instilling a sense of belonging and ownership of the corporate mandate and strategic vision of the organisation will certainly ensure that everybody will keep the organisational torch burning. Everybody is important, no one can do without the other – no matter how diminutive someone’s role in the organisation might be perceived to be. It is not just my responsibility but our collective responsibilities that will guarantee the success of any organisation. Further hereto, accessibility and availability to all and for all through an open door policy prevails. Continuous personal learning and development is a vehicle that fundamentally promotes a sense of camaraderie and commitment to our respective duties. This in turn has birthed the spirit of the “NIP Family” as commonly known here.
What do you consider to be the challenges of your role as CEO?
Managing a diverse group of people, providing effective leadership and balancing sometimes divergent objectives and expectations of different stakeholders. Challenges are what makes any job exciting, thought-provoking and stimulating.
As someone who has been leading NIP for a while, can we look forward to some new innovations in the pipeline? What could these be?
We will be introducing improved systems and new technologies to serve our customers in a more efficient and cost effective manner. This will also assist in reducing our turn-around-times, and improving accessibility of our services to our customers.
We will also be introducing more point-of-care equipment and devices for frequent testing of communicable and non-communicable diseases, as well as life-style diseases. Te s t – and – t re at will invariably improve the health outcomes in patients where it most matters.
How have you managed to be effective with little government aid as a SOE?
NIP has managed to remain a self- sustaining business since its inception, thanks to the hard work and prudent management of scarce resources by my predecessors. NIP has hitherto not received a single dime from Government in terms of a subsidy, bailout or any form of Government aid. Rigid financial management, continuous monitoring of our spending, strict cost control measures, performance measurement and innovative revenue enhancement initiatives are some of the measures that we have implemented to ensure that NIP remains financially independent from Government. It is also important to mention that all these measures will be in vain in the absence of a skilled and competent workforce. NIP is indeed well endowed with a very dynamic, well experienced and highly educated young workforce. Their dedication and hard work made NIP what it is today; a financially independent company with turnover of almost N$500 million.
What are you really into outside of work?
A commercial farmer, hard at work to become self-sufficient through sustainable agriculture practices. My primary objective is to contribute toward the food security agenda of our country, as well as to be in the position to export surplus produce to neighbouring countries and beyond.
When it’s all over, how do you want to be remembered, and would you consider a career in politics?
I would simply want to be remembered as someone who left a pleasant and positive impression in the minds of my colleagues; someone who was kind, fair and reasonable; both in deeds and words.
On the question of whether I would like to consider a career in politics: Yes, I will most certainly consider and definitely pursue a career in politics. In fact my close friends and family, including almost all my colleagues at NIP are well aware of my ambitions to enter the world of politics in the near future. Politics has an impact on our daily lives, so much so that it defines the quality of the air that we breathe. Thriving economies and better standards of living are invariably a direct result of good governance and judicious political oversight. The quality of healthcare and societal wellbeing, as well as the standard of education in a country are all dependent on the essence of the political narrative. Every responsible citizen should therefore embrace, and have the dynamics of politics at heart.
It is the manner in which we assume and nurture politics that will ultimately safeguard sustained peace, broad-based prosperity and unremitting political stability in our country. One of the hallmarks of political maturity in any country is the seamless and predictive transition of power from the incumbent President to his/her successor.
Namibia is undeniably blessed in this regard, a blessing that makes us an envy of so many countries and political regimes across the globe.
Politics in my opinion is not a popularity contest. It is a selfless offering where you get criticised so often by some folks for their own selfish reasons. It is an overrated job with underpaid benefits. It can hastily depreciate your life span, with little or no appreciation for deeds well done. It is certainly not glamorous but can indeed be very clamorous.
It is therefore important for me to know what politics is not, as opposed to what I want politics to be. It is a calling with too many sacrifices but with an equal sense of humility and inner contentment. It is of critical importance to be patient and to have a burning desire to want to learn from our elders who have devoted their entire lives to the political struggle that eventually led to the independence of Namibia.
For today belongs to the people who prepared for it yesterday; as for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. Today therefore belongs to our
yesterday, and tomorrow will belong to us as we will prepare for it today with the guidance of our elders. We must remember that our childhood is inherently embedded in the parenthood of our elders, for we can only be called a family when we are together pursuing a common purpose in harmony. elders as they prepared for it
Let us therefore respect our elders unconditionally, and let us be patient for our turn to come as the future leaders of Namibia, as we are informed by an African saying that: “The worlds of the elders do not lock all the doors; they leave the right door open”.
In two words, describe yourself.
Vision in light of Harambee? Kindly share
The spirit of Harambee is found in its literal meaning, “pulling or working together”. The execution of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) is therefore the responsibility of each and every, proud, loyal and patriotic Namibian. The ultimate success will thus depend on the passion with which we pull in the same direction, and the compassion with which we work together to achieve the goals that are set out in the HPP for the common good of all Namibians. I therefore see the successful execution of the HPP as not optional, but rather obligatory; that is, if you are a proud, loyal and patriotic Namibian.
I am sometimes amazed at the laissez-faire work attitude which is so common in Namibia, both in the public sector as well as the private sector. We seem to have the luxury of time and a talent for procrastination, as we do not display a sense of urgency in our approach to work. This primarily stems from absentee leadership, a sense of entitlement and oftentimes sheer incompetence, aggravated by acute laziness.
This ‘pathogen’ called ‘laziness’ needs to be injected with a strong dose of intolerance and treated with extreme discipline if we are to achieve the objectives that are set out in the HPP within the stipulated timeframes. Laziness is a fever of the mind that needs to be mended as a matter of urgency.
We at NIP have proudly embraced the HPP as proud, loyal and patriotic Namibians. We work diligently together to remain part of the successes of the HPP. It will be a long and winding road, but the final destination will certainly be worth the efforts.
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