THE roots of true achievement lie in one’s will to pursue goals that enable them to become the best that they can be in life.
This is the kind of belief that has driven Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke.
From his early childhood he has been striving to achieve great things and he has managed to achieve a measure of success with courage and determination.
“I have always wanted to be an achiever in my life since I was born and every time I have committed myself to excelling and making a difference in everything I do,” he said.
Born Harare in 1962, Mr Kaseke is the first born in a family of eight. He grew up in Mhondoro where he attended his primary and part of his secondary school before joining the liberation struggle in 1978 at the age of 16.
After independence he was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army and later posted to the Military Intelligence Directory where he rose through the ranks from Sergeant GSO Grade 3 in the counter intelligence department.
He was appointed to his current post in July 2005 on reassignment from the Ministry of Transport and Communications, where he was the permanent secretary.
Prior to that he was with the Civil Aviation Authority where he was the chief executive. Looking at his career and the posts that he has held it is clear that he has been indirectly and directly linked to tourism.
Mr Kaseke was the driving force behind the completion of the Harare International Airport and other national development programmes.
The fact he did not finish secondary education when he joined the liberation war did not stop him from advancing his studies after independence at ZEDCO.
Mr Kaseke is a holder of several qualifications, which include a BSc Honours Degree in Political and Administrative Studies, Masters in Public Administration, Masters Degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management with the University of Zimbabwe.
A Post-Graduate Diploma in Aviation Management, MSc Degree in Transportation Systems and Management (University of Singapore), Graduate Diploma in Aviation Management (Singapore Aviation Academy) and an MBA (Newport University, USA).
He is currently working towards a doctorate of Business Administration with the Newport University, US.
Talking about his achievements, the ZTA boss believes that he was born an achiever and has been committed to serving the country, as achievement is his biggest inspiration in life.
“My achievements are greatly influenced by the fact that I was born an achiever. I don’t believe in failure, this is reflected in the initiatives I introduced at CAAZ, Ministry of Transport and Communication and ZTA,” he said.
Since his arrival at ZTA his preoccupation has been to transform the authority into a strategy-focused organisation and to build a winning team of motivated staff.
At CAAZ the aviation industry witnessed great strides and initiatives fostering the development of tourism in the country.
He pioneered the restructuring of the authority, making it more focused and results oriented.
With his visionary leadership and results-oriented approach, Mr Kaseke also facilitated intensive rebranding exercises dating back to 2005.
Having seen various attempts to rebrand the destination since 1996, Mr Kaseke came up with the new destination brand “A World of Wonders” in October last year.
This was on realisation that despite being an attractive destination, the perception about Zimbabwe in the markets was drawback in marketing Zimbabwe. It was at this point that Mr Kaseke initiated the Perception Management Programme.
“The Perception Management Programme involves the hosting of opinion leaders, media and tour operators and exposing them to the true Zimbabwe and not the told or reported Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mr Kaseke was also involved in the crafting of the tourism policy, Tourism Master Plan, National Master Plan, National 2010 Strategy as well as the National Tourism Development and Marketing Strategy that has since been accepted in all quarters as the rallying point for the industry.
He prides himself with the fact that in all his entire professional life he has never applied for a job as he was either attested, reassigned or seconded.
Looking into the future, Mr Kaseke does not see himself being in the public service for a long time as he is ready to retire and join the business world.
“I think I have been in the public service for a long time and it’s time I now venture into the business world.
“I want to start an airline business as it is profitable as long as you know the strategies involved in the business,” he said.
Mr Kaseke is greatly inspired by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono irregardless of what people say about him. He said that once Dr Gono decides to do something he goes ahead and does it.
Internationally, Mr Kaseke draws inspiration from Virgin Atlantic Airways co-owner Sir Richard Branson.
As an individual Mr Kaseke is a holder of various awards such as the ZCT-Tourism Personality of the Year Award (2006), African Aviation Award (October 2003), Business Tribune First Achiever Award (December 2002), Best Human Resources Training and Development Award (2003) and ZNCC Best HIV/Aids Programme Award (ZNCC, 2003).
All recognising the sterling efforts he puts in the development of tourism, aviation and human resources development respectively.
Through his leadership, ZTA has between 2005 and 2010 made Zimbabwe proud by winning more awards and accolades than were received in almost a decade of the existence of the authority from 1996-2005.
He is also the brains behind the goodwill ambassadorial programme and the Celebrity Host Programme.
Furthermore, he is a board member of the WHO’S WHO Advisory Board, an honour bestowed on only a few elite members of the WHO’S WHO Historical Society.
The WHO’S WHO Historical Society, an international society of professionals, selected Mr Kaseke to its membership as “a testament of his professional, academic and civic achievements”.
He is married to Irene and they have seven children.