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Millicent Maroga: Making Beer Corporate

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Musa “Samurai” Mbambo

Member of the company’s management team, responsible for driving Heinkeken South Africa’s sustainability programme, Brewing A Better World, Millicent Maroga ensures that South Africa’s fastest growing beer producer contributes to transformation, reduces its environmental impact, engages and grows with communities, while prioritising responsible consumption.

Corporate Affairs Manager, Millicent Maroga started her journey immediately after selecting B.A Humanities- Cum Laude, Psychology and Sociology in 1999 at the University Of Johannesburg. After Milly’s graduation at UJ she then stretched her career string longer as she was awarded a Nelson Mandela Scholarship at the University Of Manchester, an institution that harnessed her intense passion for Globalisation and Development. In 2012 she crossed the academic finish line at The GIBS Business School.

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As a Corporate Affairs Manager at South African Breweries, Millicent was successful with her responsibilities for the public policy and regulatory affairs agenda in the Gauteng province. In 2015 she fulfilled her role as Head Of Old Mutual Foundation, South African HQ. “I headed up the old mutual foundation and led a team ohard working and passionate development practitioners,” she boasts.

2018 had been a breakthrough for Lady Maroga when she was appointed Corporate Affairs Director for Heineken SA where she proudly leads the Corporate Affairs agenda.

For those who do not know much about your hardwork and inspiring superwoman powers, how do you go about describing yourself?

“I am a proud South African born in Limpopo and spent my childhood and teens years in the township of Daveyton on the East Rand. I call both places home as they have equally shaped who I am and my outlook on life.

Like many South African’s I grew up in a home were there was not much but the little we had was enough. As a young girl, I had big dreams for myself and worked hard at school as I wanted to go to university.

“I continue to have big dreams for myself, so I am always learning something new, trying something new, adding and ticking things off my bucket list. I love reading – about our continent, history, culture, business affairs and philosophy”, she explains.

What motivates your never-dying drive to stand at an achievement position?

“I am inspired by the opportunities around me and my inner desire to do my best in everything I do. I love my country (with all its flaws) I am inspired by the ordinary people who call this country home despite their circumstances have defied the odds and have made something from nothing”.

Being a Corporate Affairs Director at your  age, one believes that you perform phenomenal duties such as leading the corporate affairs agenda. Please take us through the core functions and purpose of your duty?

“As Corporate Affairs Director at HEINEKEN South Africa, I am entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding our company’s license to trade by ensuring that we comply with relevant legislation and we our conditions of doing business as listed in our trading licensed.  Secondly, I am responsible for ensuring that as business we deliver on our sustainability agenda themed – ‘Brewing a Better World’ and that contributes towards the development of this country through our corporate social development initiatives, Enterprise and supplier development and through our investments we continue to make in the country.

“My day to day involves engaging with stakeholders and telling the Heineken In South Africa story – which is a story of company that is fast growing, that is bringing enjoyment to life and a company that recognises that its growth cannot be isolated from the growth of the country”, she says.

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How do you normally apply your obtained academic skills in your current area of expertise?

“In business your academic skills/qualifications enable you to understand content of your work and ultimately master it but those skills alone are not enough.

You need to have skills to work with people, be open to feedback no matter how brutal it may be, you need to have EQ to work with people and be able authentic in who you are”.

What is your personal take on alcohol abuse, and the impact it has on the social state of our country- South Africa. What do you believe must be done to minimize, if not to end such conduct completely?

“South Africa has one of the highest levels of alcohol abuse and this is concerning to me as more and more young people are reporting to be drinking and an early age.  There is no single solution to the problem as it is multifaceted.  I however believe that young people are influenced by what they see in their environment and therefore a solution to underage age drinking should encompass education and awareness, limited access to alcohol through age verification in bars/ restaurants and taverns.

“In addition, we as liquor industry must continue to work with their partners and stakeholders to raise awareness not by shocking people with alarming stats but by getting people to reflect on their own drinking behaviour. Hence as HEINEKEN our key message for our drinking and driving campaign “When you drive, just one beer is too many.” When you drive, never drink.

As you are already at a director role, do you feel you still need to extend the ladder and climb further? If so, which heights are you reaching for?

“It’s not always about extending the ladder but doing the best in whichever position you are in. For me, the focus at the moment is upskill myself further to do well in my current role and build expertise in other areas related to my role”, she believes.

I personally believe that behind every successful person there’s a role model. Who inspires you?

“I am inspired by so many people- My mother for her ability to see opportunities in everything and her work ethic. My father for his humility and optimistic outlook on life.  I also look up to Sarah Mthintso and Boniwe Njobe- two amazing women I have had the pleasure working with and to be mentored by. I look up to them for their assertiveness, ability to influence and more importantly their authentic leadership style”, she brags.

I would like to touch back  on your background. Who would you reward the prize of being a major contributor towards your progress since the year 1999, back in your varsity days at UJ?

 “Professor Alexandra, she instilled in me love for current affairs and always challenged me to do my level best in my studies and was the reason I made a decision to do my master soon after I completed my honors”.

Which geographical pit stop do you regard as your favorite place, from the list you have visited so far, and which country do you still dream to visit.

  • SA and in particular, The Garden Route and Mpumalanga (beautiful landscapes with so much to do and see)
  • Overseas – I love big cities- certainly Amsterdam and Paris
  • Places to still visit – New York and Japan

What are the future plans for HEINEKEN South Africa in 2020?

“Build the Corporate Affairs function as a centre of excellence within the business and create opportunities for our employees to be part of the Brewing a Better World journey”, she says.

How would you advise young women who aspire to climb such heights? Because I personally favour such gender phenomena!

  • Invest in yourself – education remains key – be it in corporate or entrepreneurial paths,
  • empower yourself with a mentor,
  • harness your relationship building skills,
  • stay away from corporate politics – they will deter you from your vision.

To celebrate your feature with Blazon Magazine LOL! What drink are we having, or rather which bottle are we popping tonight?

“The choice is always between a Heineken 0.0 and Sol”, she concludes.

 

We are incredibly pleased to welcome Millicent to the Heineken family. She has a wealth of experience in strategic communications and corporate affairs management,” Says Gerrit Van Loo, Managing Director of Heineken SA, in the BIZCOMMUNITY.

 

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