Raymond Selokela is Co-Owner of Around About Cars Car Hire since 2006. However, in this interview, he shows us, that his journey first led him in a different direction.
Raymond, please introduce yourself. Tell us where you were born, about your family background and where you grew up.
Raymond: I was born over 40 years ago in Mogwase, North West, which is in the backdrop of the majestic Pilanesberg Mountains, South Africa. A wonderful home to the tourist attractions of Sun City Resort (The Lost City) and Pilanesberg Nature Reserve with its own BIG FIVE animals in the wild.
Raised by my dearest Grandmother, Mokgadi Makgamatha (may her soul rest in eternal peace) and an amazing rural community of both the Batswana and Bapedi. I grew up in a village setting with no electricity or running water, yet loving and disciplined enough to mould a young dreamer, with a vast ambition to do better and realise my potential.
Growing up was fun playing outside freely, herding goats, swimming in the rivers, hunting birds and animals for meat. But also watching the moon and stars around a wood fire, in a Lapa setting whilst listening to old tales from elders.
While growing up, every kid has a dream about what to become later. Did you have one and what was it?
R: I always dreamt of a career in engineering. This was inspired by my visit to my mother´s work in Garankuwa (Pretoria). The exposure to city traffic lights, lifts, electricity and being introduced to her educated co-workers and managers. Before then, just like most rural kids, it was going to be a choice between Medical Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, Policeman etc…
Did you follow your childhood dream when you finished school or did you opt for a different career course?
R: Yes. Fortunately, with good matric grades, I managed to secure a bursary from Anglo American to study towards a degree in BSc. Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. However, later opted for a career in travel and tourism through Around About Cars Car Hire.
How did this career course lead you to Around About Cars and a career in Tourism and Travel?
R: Whilst studying at the University of Cape Town, Around About Cars Car Hire advertised a part-time driver/car washer job on the university notice board. With a valid driver´s licence and fewer study modules during that semester, I decided to try my luck. I had the intention to earn a few Rand and different work experience from the usual Mining and Engineering vacation work.
Through the vision, guidance and wonderful mentoring and inspiration by the owners Geoffrey Higgo, Monika Moser and Johannes Moser, my eyes were opened to an intriguing world of business. Servicing foreign and local tourists by helping them travel and explore our beautiful country with cheap and affordable rental cars became my passion.
It became crystal clear that Engineering and The Anglo American Mines can take a back seat. Geoffrey, Monika and Johannes offered me an opportunity to grow, learn and ultimately allowed me to buy into the business.
So since 2006, you have been co-owner and partner at Around About Cars Car Hire. Can you tell us a bit more about your position and daily work?
R: Without a very strict formal corporate structure, I was fortunately allowed to be an allrounder with a specific focus on the daily operations. This included ensuring efficient delivery of clean, safe and sound rental cars on time to our valued customers. This was achieved through intense daily and long-term planning, installing a culture of selfless customer service and the motivation of my team towards realising the common goal. Moreover, we used constant positive and negative customer feedback to keep improving our product and service.
One of my main tasks is solving customer´s problems beyond car rental and going the extra mile:
- arranging extra maps,
- giving general tourist info,
- advising on the do´s and don´ts to stay safe whilst exploring South Africa,
- organising baby seats and sim cards,
- and many more.
We know that every job has positive and negative sides. What is your favourite part of your job at Around About Cars?
R: Meeting foreign and local tourists from different backgrounds. Learning to greet and communicate in different languages and knowing that I am contributing positively to growing the South African tourist economy. There is nothing that beats a happy customer´s smile. Moreover, receiving positive feedback and seeing returning customers on a constant basis just encourages me to wake up every day and be right there in the thick of things.
I also enjoy teaching and training new staff and interns. Seeing them transform into great, well-rounded beings reminds me of how unselfishly my partners trained me on arrival.
In your journey to success as a Black South African male, what would you say are the important factors that helped you get there?
R: A deep passion and desire to learn and expand your horizons, not being afraid of change and making mistakes. Besides that, keeping an open mind and realising that you have a purpose to make a difference in people´s lives. Having a moral responsibility towards my family, community and the world as a whole.
Furthermore, support and encouragement from experienced business partners willing to share their knowledge and a strong family background structure.
From your experience, what words of wisdom can you share with the upcoming generation of South Africa?
R: The world is your oyster. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. Digital technology has made it slightly easier for you as the upcoming generation and information is at your fingertips. Embrace it and make it work for you.
Stand up, raise your hand and be counted.
As a car rental company, travel is one of the main factors that shape your daily work. What do you like most about travelling?
R: Travel is one of the best ways of educating and expanding one´s mind. Moreover, travel is much more powerful than sitting and learning in a classroom at school.
Do you have a favourite travel destination in South Africa?
R: I have so many. However, if I was to pick one, the Western Cape and the Garden Route will always stand out for me.
Thank you, Raymond, for sharing your personal story with us.
Edited by: Jana Linnemann
In close collaboration with Raymond Selokela,
Co-Owner of Around About Cars Car Hire