Big things often have small beginnings

01 October 2021 | People

Going from being a teacher in exile to becoming the CEO of a cutting-edge diamond sales and marketing company.

Desiree Gases

Kennedy Hamutenya started school at Mandume Primary School. He went to exile in Zambia when he was nine years old. He continued primary school in the refugee camp. He then went to Baptist High School in Cameroon. Upon graduation he went to Angola and was a teacher in the refugee camp; he was about 17 years old at the time. It was while he was a teacher that he got a scholarship from the United Nations to go to university in the USA. Hamutenya started tertiary education at the University of Wisconsin, doing pre-engineering for two years. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a BsC in Metallurgical and materials engineering and a minor in international political economy. Twenty years later, when he came back from exile, he joined the ministry of mines and energy as a mine inspector and became the secretary to the Diamond Board and then director of mines and later diamond commissioner. During that period, he was also chairperson of Debmarine Namibia, director of Namdeb, chairman of the Namgem factory in Okahandja, and chairman of the Mineral Development Fund of Namibia until August 2016 when he was given the mandate by the government to establish Namdia.

Hamutenya worked in the government for most of his life and finds working in corporate very different, because his job as the Namdia CEO is business oriented as opposed to being a technocrat in government. Being the CEO keeps him quite busy and being in this position requires him to be on top of his game at all times, energy levels have to be high, he’s required to manage himself and not only to manage other people in the organisation. Hamutenya tries to lead the organisation in the direction that they have agreed through an integrated strategic business plan and an agreed to performance framework.

Careers asked Hamutenya about some of his accomplishments as well as challenges he has faced in his career thus far. One of the biggest was the fact that Namdia started from nothing; five years ago, the Namdia building was essentially an old house. “It looked like a haunted house,” adds Hamutenya.

Another one of the company’s accomplishments is that they managed to build a powerful, successful company that pays taxes and dividends and contributes through CSI by investing in communities. Namdia’s contributions are immense. Namdia has also managed to build a powerful, robust brand that is respected in the international market. Over the past five years the company has been successful and profitable every year since inception. Namdia also plays a big role in supporting the community in sports, health, education and many more.

When it comes to challenges, Covid-19 has definitely been one of the challenges faced by Hamutenya and the organisation as a whole but they have managed to navigate around it.

Namdia continues to do business in a very precarious and risky environment, where their clients are not able to travel all the way to Namibia. When asked what advice he would give to young aspiring CEOs, Hamutenya said: “Be disciplined, and manage your life and your time responsibly because time lost cannot be regained. Spend time improving yourself and keep learning new things and list five things that are important to you, and make sure whatever you do, every day of your life goes towards achieving those objectives.”

Some of Hamutenya’s hobbies include the fact that he is a huge Manchester United fan. “I live for Manchester,” says Hamutenya. He is also a big fan of Formula One, especially Team AMG and Lewis Hamilton. He likes exercising, jogging, and watching movies and documentaries. He also enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Career motivation

“List five things that are important to you, and make sure whatever you do every day of your life goes towards achieving those objectives.” - Kennedy Hamutenya.

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