Felicia Mokoena was completely new to the tourism industry when she started working as a tour guide at the SAB World of Beer in 1999. Now, 18 years, six job titles, three children and a lot of perseverance later, she has been appointed as the tourist attraction's new manager.
Knowing the ins and outs of the SAB World of Beer, she's the ideal candidate for the position. After three years as a tour guide, Felicia was appointed as an events coordinator in 2002, a position she held until 2013 when she became operations supervisor. From April to November 2014 she was acting general manager, whereafter she was appointed as operations team leader, a position she kept until becoming SAB World of Beer manager on 1 August 2017.
She believes the right attitude, embracing challenges as opportunities, loving what she does and always doing it to the best of her ability, have contributed significantly to her career success.
"There were times in my career when I was thrown in at the deep end. At one stage I was doing everything from capturing bookings and taking care of invoicing and purchase orders to appointing staff, chasing payments, assisting with technical help, doing marketing and looking after delegates taking part in our tours or attending conferences," says Felicia.
Felicia's not only the manager of the SAB World of Beer and the mother of two daughters, Katleho (15) and Paballo (12), and an eight-month-old baby boy, Esami; she's also a student at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). She still has to complete three more subjects in the GIBS Programme for Management Development before writing her last exam in November.
The programme is designed to enhance leadership skills and business acumen in the constantly changing world of business. "We are expected to integrate what we learn in the programme in our workplace. My syndicate group's Action Learning Project, which has to be based on a real challenge faced in the business of one of the delegates, is called 'SAB World of Beer’s road to sustainability'," she explains.
When asked how she's able to fill the shoes of manager, student and mother at the same time, she almost makes it sound easy: "I know where to draw the line when it comes to work and private life, even though studying wasn’t easy throughout pregnancy. I had a supportive boss [former SAB World of Beer general manager Tony Rubin], who helped me sail through. I also have a supportive companion, my life partner Bathandwa Mabedla, and we motivate each other."
It's clear that she's a great fan of Tony and that she values his mentorship. "He took me under his wing the first time he had a meeting with me and he saw potential in me. I would not be where I am today without his mentorship.
"Tony consistently maintained strong business ethics in a humorous way keeping a smile on his face and on the faces of those around him. He taught me how to stand my ground and have the kind of career that I can be proud of."
What she enjoys most about her job is interacting with customers, sharing ideas and learning more about the tourism industry every day.
Felicia's advice for young people in the workforce is: have the right attitude, treat your work as if it's your own business, always think out of the box and never, ever underestimate yourself. "You should also use your time constructively. I always make sure that I achieve something weekly, even if it is something small."