It’s more than just taking phone calls

A world of opportunities on a secretary’s desk

31 January 2020 | People

Ester Kamati

With his degree in office management and technology secured, Panduleni Kashipulwa is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in communication and is in his third year of studies. Simultaneously, he serves as a full-time employee at the institution, playing the role of secretary to the institutional planner in the institutional planning department. These are shoes that he has been filling since being permanently appointed in 2018.

The institution was transitioning to a university when Kashipulwa joined as a student in 2012. That was after he had matriculated at Uukule Secondary School in the Oshikoto Region, where he was born. He graduated in 2016, attaining a bachelor’s degree in office management and technology. He joined the institutional planning department in 2015 as an intern, while still studying, and was appointed as the leader of the student brand ambassadors in 2016 on a part-time contract.

Currently a full-time employee, Kashipulwa’s job includes office administration and management, updating the department’s website, handling requisitions and drafting the department’s budget. He also has media responsibilities which require him to create photographic and video content for all department events and creating a photo archive, managing the planner’s diary and assisting the planner with any other duties.

Kashipulwa says he was mainly keen to take on a career as a secretary because of the gender stereotype. “People believe that being a secretary is a female job. I went for it to prove a point to everybody out there that you cannot be limited by gender to do what you want to do.”

It is rare for men to be asked how they survive in a “female-dominated industry” but Kashipulwa believes that the value of work is not linked to gender and gender should not be a factor in determining people’s careers.

“Most people think that being a secretary is about sitting and answering calls or typing,” he says, but there is much more to it. He says the department he works in is versatile and has four units, namely strategic planning, statistics, branding and radio.

“Working with a diverse group of people is another factor that I love about my job as it grows my talent pool, experience and it creates innovation.”

Kashipulwa has served on several committees, including the National Students Research Symposium, National Clean-up Campaign and currently the Nust Secretaries’ Forum Committee. He describes this as “a whole package of benefits that come with my job and I love it very much.”

Having been a student at the institution himself, Kashipulwa sometimes finds himself in a position to advise students on a variety of issues. One such instance was when a student was not sure whether the course he was studying was “the one for him.” Kashipulwa advised the student to simply continue with the programme.

“To me, it does not matter what course you are doing. Just study, you will certainly fall in love with what you do,” he says.

“I believe education is the key that can open many doors in life.” He adds that it is better for individuals to study the courses at their disposal rather than “sitting at home doing nothing.”

“Nust is a reputable institution that values its employees and motivates them to grow professionally. I am also proud to be contributing to the only university of science and technology in Namibia.”

He values the mentorship that he constantly receives in his department, as well as contributing to strategic decision-making, which he says motivates him to drive to work with a smile.

“My supervisor, Ms Neavera Tjivikua, a selfless leader, motivates me to reach greater heights. She gives everyone in the department an opportunity to grow professionally.”

He says her leadership has taught him to replace “I don’t know” with “I will find a way to do it”.