Onnie Mokenti


Wilderness Safaris Botswana Service and Hospitality Trainer

Rise and Shine

I am sharing this inspirational story in order to motivate my friends and colleagues.

I started with Wilderness Safaris in August 2014 as an intern. Generally, it has been a beautiful journey along with a few ups and downs to strengthen me. The duration of my internship was two years, but two months down the line, I was given an opportunity to head the Housekeeping Department at Vumbura South.

I was a bit nervous because I was still new to the system. I had to wear big pants. But I never had second thoughts. I had to prove to my superiors that I am capable of doing the job.  My training was different from others, where I was given full responsibility while still in training. I had to compile my training weekly reports and prepare for assessments at the same time as acting as a fully qualified Manager on the ground. With dedication and hard work, I managed all.

For my Level 2 training, I was sent to Banoka (a former OWS camp in the Delta) to continue my training. When I got there I continued to shine, for I believe in hard work. Back then, the camp was not resourceful, but I didn’t allow that to be an obstacle to my career growth. I believe in creativity, and I focused much on WOW set-ups. I was only there for two months, but we broke a record in 2015, when Banoka appeared in our Wilderness monthly news as the Number 1 camp across Botswana’s Wilderness operation.

I was sent back to Vumbura Plains after I applied to head the Housekeeping Department there. And that’s where I finished my Level 3 training. Upon completion, I was given the post of Housekeeping Manager, and I managed the department for three years. Working with the Vumbura South team has been a fantastic journey. I built amazing rapport with my team, and we were family.  My team’s performance in Housekeeping was amazing – we were always at the top.

In 2018 I changed from Housekeeping to Guest Relations. I believe creativity is one of my best skills, and I became famous for doing beautiful setups, which were posted on Wilderness’ social media, (run by Jo Bestic back then). She called them ‘jaw-dropping WOWs’ she was so impressed.

Above all, I love working with people, I believe in teamwork and good staff relations. I worked hard in developing my team through the Lobster Ink programme. It was a challenge because of different learning styles; however, I enjoyed gathering around our Lobster ink television, and explaining and interpreting the videos for my team. Something that touched me most was when one of the team told me that she had never received a single certificate in her entire life. For her it was a huge achievement. I gave myself a pat on the back, because self-motivation is as important as team motivation!

While on Guest Relations, I temporarily relieved the General Managers, and offered training and induction to our new Managers, including General Managers. That’s when I realised my strength is in training. I was now working towards my goal, which was to be a Wilderness Trainer. Meanwhile, I continued with staff development and mentorship while in camp. In August 2018, I successfully applied for a post as a Service and Hospitality Trainer.

I have been in this role since then. Holding Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism Management and the experience I gained from managing Vumbura stood me in good stead to be offered the post. Coming out of the bush was a bit like war, as ‘nobody wanted to lose a gem’. And I continued to empower myself with short courses. What I enjoy most about my job is staff motivation, development, and mentorship. I do a lot of counselling, which I believe is a hidden talent that I have to explore. I touch people’s souls and connect with their spirits. I believe people come first as they are the greatest assets of the business.

I have inspired many people through my leadership skills – I lead by example and I am a game changer, a role model to many. I like reading leadership books. My favourite is ‘Leaders Eat Last’ by Simon Sinek.

This story is my inspiration for our rising stars. I believe it is a true example of having passion and knowing your purpose as an individual. I would like to say to those who want to grow within the business, that Wilderness Safaris offers lots of opportunities for growth, with support from the Training Department and Human Resources. There are many opportunities within the business to tap into. You just have to know your purpose, and choose the right company so you will reach your goals.

I am forever grateful. Looking back from where I started, I feel proud of myself working for this company. I have learned a lot. My final words to those who may have lost hope and are struggling are, ‘Stand up for your destiny. The key is in your hand to unlock every single opportunity you want to grab. It is time to be the best. The Number 1 champion. And nothing less. Rise and shine!’