BACKSTORY: KFC’s Nolo Thobejane
The FM spoke to Nolo Thobejane, head of KFC: rest of Sub-Saharan Africa
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Listening to the other party’s motivation and needs. This really beats having to drive a hard sell.
What was your first job?
I was a part-time team member at a quick-service restaurant brand. It’s the job that introduced me to the industry, and I never looked back.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I earned R700 a month as a part-timer. I was in varsity, so I immediately stopped asking my parents for money and covered my own expenses.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Choose a career that aligns to your passion and strengths, you will tap dance your way to work every day.
If you could fix one thing in SA, what would it be?
What is the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
My introverted side tends to be dominant at times — believe it or not.
What is the one investment you wish you had made or made earlier?
I started working at an early age and wish I’d learnt the importance of investment and saving earlier.
What is the best investment you have ever made and how much of it was luck?
Investment in myself. I had to be intentional about studying further since I took a different path from my initial degree. I was very lucky to have supportive employers, my journey was hugely supported by KFC’s internal leadership development programme. But it takes hard work, time and energy for results to show.
What is the hardest life lesson you have learnt so far?
To be more gracious to myself and others. That everyone is going through their own journey.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Success. This is often defined based on the principles of others — not our own. I’ve seen people, including myself, achieve defined life goals while still feeling hollow.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I would introduce policies and an environment that will enable the government and corporates to tackle youth unemployment. Vocational training and learnerships can lead to permanent employment or entrepreneurship opportunities. The power of collaboration can drastically move the dial.
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