As of 1 July 2020, the role of Managing Director (MD) of Namibia Dairies, a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group, was officially taken over by Leonie Prinsloo. Prinsloo had formerly held the position of Head of Marketing at Namibia Dairies.
Coming from the world of telecommunications, Prinsloo joined O&L in 2011 as Brand Manager at Namibia Dairies. Thereafter, she became the company’s Head of Marketing and also served as Acting Head of Marketing for Hartlief for three months before her promotion to MD. Prinsloo: “If you really want something and envision it, you can have it. A demotion at one point in my career did not scare me, because I knew what was needed to get where I wanted to be and looking back, I can say it paid off. I believe in the power of attraction and positive thinking. Your thoughts really do become your reality and you need to take responsibility for your state of mind.”
Prinsloo expressed her enthusiasm in taking on the position, but acknowledged that big challenges lie ahead for Namibia Dairies and the dairy industry as a whole. According to Prinsloo, “I am very excited to be starting in this new role, but I know it will not be an easy journey. It was initially hard to avoid feeling overwhelmed as there are so many pressing issues to consider, such as COVID-19, food security and job creation. It is a major responsibility and I feel very humbled and honoured to have been chosen to lead in this role and to be welcomed as a woman in leadership.
“I think women have so much to bring to the world of leadership; one only has to look at the concept of Mother Nature herself. Our caring and attentive dispositions and contemplative natures are aspects of emotional intelligence. They also relate to the O&L values, from fostering open communication to growing people. I believe it is no longer a man’s world, but a leader’s world and I am glad to see it rising in all spheres of society, whether it be in business or government. Empowering others is essential to achieving the end result and with that empowerment, anyone can make a success of themselves.”
Prinsloo is firmly committed to ensuring the presence of a sustainable industry that is able to provide food security, notwithstanding the challenges and uncertainty farmers are currently facing. Prinsloo: “We need to find new opportunities to combat the present risks and that is why, in the case of Namibia Dairies, we will be diversifying our portfolio and business focus. In order to keep offering our products at affordable prices we need to focus on what we can do and find partners for the activities we can no longer optimally perform. The proportion of our dairy product offerings will be less in future, but that opens the door to other possibilities. We can extend our product lines to bring customers new products under the brands they have come to know and love, thereby maximising the potential of our existing brands. That is part of what I am looking forward to the most: turning all opportunities into realities. I firmly believe we have the ability to change anything from the way people think all the way to the bottom line.”
A lesson that Prinsloo will be carrying with her as MD is that perseverance is key to survival. According to Prinsloo, “My past experiences – being a single mother, completing my Master’s degree and the challenges I have faced professionally – have shaped me into an absolute survivor. In what will be ten years with Namibia Dairies next year, we often faced tough times due to factors impacting our industry. However, even during the challenging years, all it took was finding a way and making a plan, and we achieved great things. I do not accept the notion that something cannot be done. The specifications of my job include taking responsibility for and leading an industry, feeding the nation, contributing to job creation and bringing the O&L Purpose to life, which can feel overwhelming at times. However, I have never felt incapable of taking this on, because the support around me has been tremendous, especially from the Namibia Dairies team with whom I can have open discussions at any time. I also have the support of my family and friends, with one of my dearest friends always being there to help during my late nights studying or working. I am truly grateful for the incredible support systems I have both at work and at home.”