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Prof Torto Addresses BITRI Beginning of the Year Staff Meeting

Last week Friday, BITRI A, BITRI B and Kanye staff convened for the Chief Executive Officer Professor Nelson Torto’s beginning of the year address. In setting the tone for the meeting, the CEO said “I called this meeting, to create a platform in which we can have honest discussions, and not just to raise complaints, but also to come up with suggestions that can take BITRI forward.”

“There is a lot of competition out there. For us to be able to create an organization that can withstand competition, we need from time to time, to sit together and have an honest discussion where we can express our views without fear. I have seen it fit that, instead of simply telling you what to do this year, it would be good for us to have an interaction that can allow us to map a way forward for us as an organization. For us to be in the forefront of the technology research arena, we have to make this organization what we want it to be and we all have to be actively involved,” explained the CEO.

The CEO gave a summary of improvements and processes that were put in place for BITRI to be where it is, citing how his concern with equality in the workplace prompted him to ensure that parking bays with shades are constructed and accessible to all regardless of rank. The philosophy is to ensure that the work environment, by virtue of what is made available, it has to speak as well as identify with the needs of the workers, be it their fitness, comfort or contribution to a healthy diet (if we live well, we work well). The other project that the CEO highlighted was the procurement of office furniture for every staff member in cognizance of the ergonomic requirements of the furniture and how it facilitates productivity in the workplace. Some of the other initiatives cited were the gym facility which enhances staff fitness and wellness and the reserve water facilities that ensure continuity in work and sanitation even during periods of water shortage. In citing these examples, the CEO acknowledged staff and teams that were instrumental in the formulation and implementation of the specific projects.

All staff members were accorded an opportunity to make comments and put forward their concerns. Fiona Nermark raised several questions to Management, one of which concerned the implementation of flexi time, putting forth that if the system is properly managed, it can enhance productivity. The other issue, which seemed to be of general concern was the perceived cumbersome procurement processes in the organization, proposing that contracts for consumables would cut down on the time dedicated to procurement-related administrative work, and delivery times. Ms. Nermark also propagated for guidelines that would ensure security of the vehicles and safety of the employees by stipulating times it would be considered safe to drive for staff on official duty.

Dr Aubrey Mokotedi recognized the progress that BITRI has made, but he added that more can still be done, submitting that BITRI could fully utilize systems it has invested in, and improve different work flows, citing instances where under the current setup, staff have to carry documents from one campus to another between BITRI A and BITRI B, whereas an appropriate system could be put in place to address the operational inefficiency.

The CEO and Director- Human Capital, Mr Ntema Kopane took turns to respond to questions and address specific concerns.

In summarizing the purpose of the gathering, the CEO stressed that BITRI has to justify its existence and relevance by reciprocating the level of investment and support from the Government of Botswana and other parties by delivering results to the satisfaction of stakeholders.

“When you are a CEO, you rely very much on your people. You might have initial ideas that are very good for the organisation. Steve Jobs once said ‘Why bring in smart people if you can tell them what to do?’ So now that you are here and part of team BITRI, I have high expectations and am very optimistic about outcomes from your efforts.  When you walk through the BITRI gate, you must do so with a determination that you are going to deliver as per what your performance contract stipulates so that the organization also delivers on its mandate and improve the lives of Batswana and others it serves,” emphasized the CEO.

The CEO also used the occasion to introduce two of some of the key BITRI appointments in the form of Professor James Darkwa, who has assumed the position of Lead Researcher, Specialty Chemicals as well as Dr Kabo Masisi who joined BITRI in the position of Researcher – Diagnostics under the Natural Resources and Materials Department.

In giving a Vote of Thanks, Mr Kopane implored staff to use platforms such as the address to engage the CEO to resolve any issues that are of major concern. Mr Kopane also thanked the outgoing Staff Welfare Committee for their efforts in putting together the event and other initiatives during their tenure.

“I would like to reiterate what the CEO has said in that the terrain is becoming increasingly turbulent and for each one of us, let us introspect on the value we are delivering to our stakeholders and our customers,” echoed Mr Kopane.

Management, led by the CEO, will hold similar gatherings in Kanye and Palapye in the near future so as to engage with the ICT Associates.

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