Bongi Mbanjwa was happy in her work.
Two years into the tyre game and she felt she was getting a good handle on what the sector was all about. Her knack for sales and stock improved by the day.
What the branch administrator at BestDrive William Moffett in Gqeberha did not realise was that her progress was being monitored from higher places with some interest.
The Kelston Motor Group, which took over the branch in 2022, offers sales and management trainee programmes to suitable job and staff candidates, and her impact in a short space of time had put her on the Board’s radar.
She had earned a reputation of efficiency among her colleagues and her superiors were quick to recognise the same values. She was just the model the Group had been looking for.
Earlier this year, the 32-year-old was called in by human resources for a “quick chat”, but this would be no run-of-the-mill exchange of pleasantries.
To her amazement, she was informed that her name had come up among the company’s directors and that they wanted her to be part of the Group’s high-octane management training programme.
Mbanjwa had no idea that she would be eligible, believing it was only for those who were in managerial positions. Furthermore, the Morningside High School alumnus had no degree nor diploma to underpin her undoubted skills.
However, what she lacked in tertiary qualifications she more than made up for in drive and elbow grease.
“I don’t want to lie – I was super, super, super surprised,” the engaging mother-of-two said.
“The Group has so many branches [around the province] and to be chosen was a huge opportunity.”
Once an opportunity lands in her lap, she dons all-terrain tyres and engages four-wheel drive.
“I go the extra mile. I am not picky – I do any task that I’m given.”
She had no hesitation in accepting the invitation to join the programme and, several months in, is glad that she did.
“It entails a lot and teaches you about management skills. There are a lot of levels in dealing with others that many people don’t know about,” she explained.
The intensive programme gave her a fundamental understanding of what was expected of a manager. She described it as an “eye-opener”.
“But I also feel comfortable,” Mbanjwa said.
The group of trainee managers meets at operations director Peter McNaughton’s offices twice a month. Each session is between five and eight hours, depending on course material and number of presentations on the day.
Senior managers within the Group contribute to the curriculum by giving insight into how the business conducts its operations and what is expected of those in leadership positions.
Trainees are also given assignments.
Mbanjwa is currently working on a task which requires her to look critically at her workplace, come up with an innovation to improve it and analyse its positives and negatives.
“All of this is helping shape me for the future,” the Gqeberha mom said.
She has learnt a lot about tyres in a relatively short space of time, fuelling her belief that she can successfully navigate other areas of the auto industry too.
Her ideal is to work at one of Kelston’s vehicle dealerships on successful completion of the course. In addition, she will love to study further if the opportunity presents itself.
Now it is just a case of managing her own expectations.