WINDHOEK – Selma Ambunda is a goal-driven mid-career woman with a passion for driving change.
A devoted hardworking Christian and believer she grew up in rural Namibia in the small village of Ouma, in the Omusati Region. Walking long distances from home to school and back, covering ten kilometres a day, did not put her off school but instead motivated her to one day change her circumstances. “Without the perseverance to succeed, I would not be where I am today. I continued to study hard, although being duty-bound as a child, working in the fields as expected from society, at the time I had only one thing in mind … that was to do well enough in school, pass Grade 12 and go to university,” she says.
Her foremost challenge was her parents’ inability to pay for her tertiary education having to fend for five siblings with only one breadwinner. “I was the last born and I had an older sister that was in education as a teacher, and she offered to pay for my first year, while I tried to secure a government loan,” explains Ambunda.
“A teacher, a nurse or police officer. Knowing that many of my friends and family expected me to become a nurse, probably due to my caring nature and love of working with people, I then had my mind made up and decided I too shall become a nurse,” says Ambunda, adding that she was admitted to the then Polytechnic of Namibia, and because it did not offer nursing she opted for human resource management. “This is a field I have grown to love and have not looked back a day ever since,” she says.
“Besides being hardworking, I was an extremely competitive scholar, which meant that I always strived to achieve better grades compared to my classmates.”
Ambunda is currently acting CEO at the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA). The challenging aspect for her as head of BIPA is financial sustainability. “As leadership we have to ensure that the entity becomes and remains financially sustainable, while at the same time focused on providing effective and efficient service delivery. However, I have no doubt that as a team we are dedicated and able to turn around the situation,” she says.
Acting in this position for the last four months now, Ambunda says readiness and eagerness to adjust as well as perseverance helped her to settle in the position. And of course surrounded by a capable team with the requisite passion and skills have made it easy for her. “It calls for new ways of doing things and different expectations, however it’s an experience that I embrace as it’s an opportunity to learn, grow and provide leadership to the team.”
Her qualifications include a Master Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Australia Institute of Business, Master Degree in Human Resources Development from the University of South Africa (UNISA), a Bachelor Degree in Human Resources Development from UNISA and a Diploma in Human Resources Management from the Namibia University of Science and Technology. The past 19 years of her life have taught her to work much harder. Her desirable goal in life is becoming more actively involved in philanthropic work, especially involving previously disadvantaged children.
“Making a difference, even just to one Namibian child, should not be a goal, but rather a calling for each privileged Namibian.” Ambunda advises all those aiming to be in a leadership position to always do for others what they expect from others. “If you want your team to work hard and be honest, then make sure that you work the hardest and that you are always honest to yourself. As a leader, your success is no longer about your own output, it’s about other people and what they do too. The most important part of your job is enabling your team to do their jobs.”