Mothers Make Life Work

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Balancing Work and Home Life during the Pandemic is an Art for Working Mothers

South Africa, 13 May 2021Videos and audio clips have been making the rounds with mothers having to run or participate in a meeting while fending off their inquisitive bundles of joy. The Covid-19 pandemic has tested every facet of South Africa’s economy and society, and nowhere is this more felt than in the home, particularly with mother’s juggling the challenging task of working from home and caring for their children.

As workers celebrate National Workers’ Month in May, working mothers at Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) reflect on how they needed to dig deep for the inner resources to perform at their peak and still support the healthy development of the next generation, their kids.

Through its corporate wellness programme Phofula, CCBSA provided various forms of support to workers, including financial management tips, mental health, self-care, dealing with domestic violence, addiction and many more. The journey has been quite unique for working mothers.

CCBSA’s Mintirho Foundation Office Manager, Rachelle De Beer says boundaries and clear expectations were vital to ensuring productivity throughout the lockdown and beyond. However, she grappled with her fair share of challenges.

“Initially, my computer was never off, as the team all worked different hours and it didn’t matter what time of the day it was, there was just never any silence,” she says. “So, we all adopted a more structured daily routine that determines when it would be time to work, and when it is time to attend to children or just relax, and even what time to go to sleep.

“As there was no formal schooling for our children, it was a struggle for me to focus on work and kids that needed help with school assignments. Eventually, I just let the kids do their schoolwork and I focused on work, as that remained my priority as co-breadwinner. Thankfully, both my kids passed in the 2020 academic year,” she adds.

Rachelle handed over the cooking responsibilities to her husband, who took over many of the home chores and all the shopping, as he had become bored. This caused her to withdraw from her household activity and social activity, hardly leaving her bedroom, which had become her working space.

“My marriage definitely had its challenges and my youngest son had to get counselling for a genuine fear of the pandemic,” she says. “Dealing with those issues created anxiety, sadness and even guilt for me. But being at home allowed me to deal with these issues directly and be more hands-on. I was there for my kids and I grew closer to my husband. 

There were perks to working from home. “I was also able to help my brother and his wife move to Pretoria from Harrismith. During that time, he had a medical procedure, and his wife attended daily treatment sessions for a condition she has.  If I was in the office, it would have been impossible to juggle all these balls of working fulltime, supporting them emotionally and driving them around,” she says.

Constant communication with the CCBSA team and set times for family time have come in handy for maintaining emotional stability, something that CCBSA Primary Packaging (Preform, Closures and Resin) Category Specialist, Thandi Silinda agrees with.

“The challenges we had to grapple with would have been so much worse if it wasn’t for regular engagement sessions and our human resources representative supporting our work-life balance,” Thandi says. “As women, we have unique challenges, such as our male counterparts in the manufacturing environment sometimes overlooking us in meetings. We have had to support each other, focus on our responsibilities, and make sure that our male teammates understand our duties and responsibilities. I make sure that I share my experiences with other women and assist them in finding simpler ways of resolving their issues.”

While remote work has delivered valuable travel time savings, the lack of social interaction has been a struggle for Thandi, and even setting up time to speak to colleagues has become a formal process, when she previously would have just walked up to their desks.

“There is less disturbance, I can focus more, and my children see me all the time,” she says. “However, I often have long working hours and some stakeholders expect us to respond to requests immediately because we are at home. I am fortunate that my team supports me and while I am happy to work from home, I look forward to returning to the office, just for the social interaction.”

CCBSA Learning and Development, Commercial and Finance Lead, Michelle Armugam says servant leadership is more vital now than ever as the pressure to deliver is higher.

“It was quite an adjustment learning to work completely remotely as I miss the people element, bumping into colleagues in the corridors,” she says. “However, while it can be exhausting moving from one teleconference call to another, I can truly say I have never engaged more with my stakeholders or been this productive in all of my career.”

She says she has found new value in the people that she works with and is now even more invested in their growth and development in the organisation. The distance has meant a stronger focus on having a shared vision and building trust with colleagues and stakeholders.

As a mother of two children, Michelle had to juggle her time carefully, with hilarious results at time.

“Managing meetings while your kids are blasting the TV is not always fun,” she says. “In one director meeting I needed to tell my kids to lower their voices in the background. I couldn’t mute my MS Teams, as I was sharing my screen in presentation mode, so I muted my laptop. Unbeknown to me, my audience could still hear me as I yelled for my kids to tone it down.”

Michelle says her team was very supportive in such moments, with an understanding that the challenges they face are the same.

Continuous engagement with colleagues to monitor the how the business is adapting, as well as training on working remotely and ensuring access to the right tools has been vital in supporting employees to sustain productivity.

Similarly, she adds that being deliberate about spending quality time with her loved ones on the weekends, where they have my undivided attention, is just as vital for her overall health.

“Despite my own hectic work schedule, I ensure I make time to be present in school activities and celebrate their victories too,” she adds. “I have a very supportive husband who has always supported my career. He was very hands on with our boys when I used to travel a lot for work pre-Covid. Most importantly the grace of God over my life has always kept me centred and sane.”



Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is a proudly South African company which began operating as a legal entity in July 2016, after the merger of six non-alcoholic ready to drink bottling operations. We employ over 7000 people at 13 manufacturing facilities across the country. As a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) and a bottler for The Coca-Cola Company, our vision is to refresh Africa every day and make our continent a better place for all. We manufacture and distribute Coca-Cola beverages that make life’s everyday moments more enjoyable, while doing business the right way. The result is shared opportunity for our customers, our employees, our communities, and our shareholders. We conduct our business ethically, transparently and conscientiously. We espouse an inclusive business culture to reflect our African identity. We accelerate sustainable, profitable revenue growth across all categories and offer an innovative portfolio of products that respond to customer needs and consumer preferences. Profitability is important, but not at any cost. People matter. Our planet matters. We do business the right way by following our values and partnering for solutions that benefit us all.

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Rakesh Rajbally

Managing Director: South Africa

Rakesh is C-Suite leader with 26 years of experience in General Management, Sales, Marketing, Logistics and Finance within the FMCG space. He currently leads the South African business for Coca-Cola Beverages Africa. He has a strong growth mindset and has successfully led CCBSA’s Commercial business unit. He is a sought after thought leader in developing & implementing revenue growth and route to market strategies in both modern and emerging markets. Under his leadership CCBSA recently completed a R6bn/ $400m investment in an Affordability growth strategy. He has also led CCBSA’s strategic and operational Customer management and recently achieved the #1 ranking across FMCG in the Advantage survey for 2 consecutive years.

Rakesh leads the CCBSA executive team that has been instrumental in successfully leading a large organization across major transformation changes including the merger of six entities to form CCBSA, the Sugar Tax introduction, Talent diversity strategy and other major productivity initiatives. He is a trusted partner and builds trust-based relations with business partners, stakeholders, and authorities.

His purpose statement “We have 2 hands, one to help yourself, one to help others” reflects in the many young leaders he has successfully coached and mentored.

Janett Forbes

Commercial Excellence Director

Janett is a seasoned financial, logistics, and commercial executive who joins us from Vector Logistics previously a division of RCL Foods where she held position of Finance Director.

Prior to this, Janett was part of the Coca-Cola family, having occupied various senior roles of Finance Manager, Category Manager, Revenue Growth Manager and Channel Development Manager within ABI in 2002 and 2016.

Janett is a qualified Chartered Accountant (CA(SA), has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Rhodes University in Grahamstown and a higher diploma in Accounting from University of Natal in Durban.

Desilan Pillay

Logistics Director

He joined the Coke system as a Unit Manager Designate at ABI Midrand in 2008. Desilan encompasses 20 years of management experience from companies including Afrox (Linde Group), the South African Breweries (ABI soft drinks and SABMiller – now ABInbev), and Unilever.  

He has a wealth of experience and a vast skillset within South Africa and across the African continent – all at executive levels. This includes, but is not limited to, project management, engineering, production (gases), packaging (FMCG), as well as operations management, financial management, sales and distribution, procurement, and planning (demand, supply, and production). Desilan has managed portfolios across end-to-end Supply Chain (Sourcing, Demand, and Supply Planning), Warehouse Management, Production, and Distribution, including Customer Care, After-sales and reverse logistics. He was also accountable for the delivery of service excellence in order fulfilment, cost of goods sold enhancement via strategic sourcing, and the overall cash optimisation (inventory) across the business. His most recent role before re-joining the CCBSA family is as the Chief Operations Officer at Anchor Holdings, one of the largest privately-owned warehousing companies in South Africa.

Desilan is a qualified Mechanical Engineer and has completed a Management Development Programme from UCT. His areas of expertise include building high performance teams and E2E supply chain and commercial acumen.

Desilan has been happily married for the past 16 years and has a 12-year-old daughter and 18-month-old twins – a boy and a girl. In his spare time, he enjoys seeing new sights locally and abroad. He is always planning his next trip to an exciting destination together with his family.

Nozicelo Ngcobo

Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Director

Nozicelo started her corporate career in 1994 when she was recruited by Sasol into their Management Trainee Programme of the top 16 academic graduates in South Africa – class of 1993. In addition to Sasol, Nozicelo has since worked for listed companies such as Telkom SA, South African Breweries (SAB) as well as multi-national organisations such as Philip Morris International (PMI). In 2020, Nozicelo joined Coca Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) as Director for PACS.

Nozicelo has a demonstrable track record in successfully developing and managing corporate affairs and regulatory strategies for complex industries such as alcohol, tobacco and recently the beverages industry. Nozicelo has strong professional networks spanning more than 25 years in both public and private sectors. Her strategic insights, value creation, solutions orientation, strong business/political acumen, solid networks and ability to mobilise teams to successfully execute towards a common vision are just some of the many attributes she brings into any organisation.

Nozicelo is an advocate of human rights, animal rights and has a passion for youth/women empowerment.

Michael John Wilson

Finance Director

Michael started his working career at KPMG as a Manager and Trainee Accountant from 2002 until 2006. After completing his articles, his highest position held at KPMG was Audit Manager and Office Administration Manager. In 2006 to 2009, he worked at BASF South Africa (previously known as Engelhard South Africa), where he was appointed as Site Controller – Mobile Emissions Catalysts Division. He also served as a Team Leader for Finance when the company changed its ERP from JD Edwards to SAP. In 2009, Michael joined Coca-Cola Fortune (CCF) as Finance Manager – Business Support.

In 2015, he was assigned to the CCBA integration team as a Finance work stream member and later that year, Michael was appointed Finance Manager for Marketing, Sales and Distribution. Michael relocated to Windhoek, Namibia in January 2016 as Financial Director for Coca-Cola Beverages Namibia. In October 2017, Michael returned to Port Elizabeth as Group Financial Controller for CCBA, a position he currently holds. He serves on a number of boards and audit committees within the CCBA Group.

In 2000, Michael graduated with a B.Com (Accountancy) Degree from the University of Port Elizabeth and a year later, he completed his B. Com Honours (Accountancy) at the same university. He was admitted as a Chartered Accountant (CA) in 2005. In 2010, he completed his Executive Development Programme at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

Moses Lubisi

Manufacturing & Technical Director

Moses has over 20 years of extensive experience spanning various industries such as Sugar, Food and Beverages, and Mineral processing, including 15 years within the Coca-Cola system, Moses brings a wealth of knowledge to this role.

His journey within CCBSA has seen him excel in positions ranging from Plant Manager, Regional Manufacturing Manager (Coastal) in CCBSA to Executive Director for Appletiser (Pty) Ltd. Before returning to CCBA within Group Office, Moses served as an Operations Director at Illovo Sugar (Pty) Ltd. His expertise lies in strategy formulation, governance and execution, with a focus on end-to-end value chain orchestration across manufacturing, warehousing, logistics and supply chain management.

Moses has held senior and executive management roles for over six years, overseeing regional and enterprise-level strategies, assets and resource allocation.

Agatha Masemola

Strategy and Performance Director

Agatha joined CCBSA in April 2020 from Absa Corporate and Investment Bank Africa, where she held various roles in the past nine years, including as Managing Principal for Strategy & Business Transformation and Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Corporate Bank. She was a key figure in the build-out and integration of the Corporate Bank across 13 African markets.

Prior to joining Absa, Agatha was a Senior Management Consultant in Strategy and Innovation at Deloitte Consulting, South Africa. At Deloitte, Agatha worked on several executive-sponsored strategy and innovation projects across various sectors, as well as driving new business development. Prior to Deloitte, she worked in Life Sciences R&D for over ten years, both as a full-time researcher with publications in peer reviewed journals, and as a Portfolio Manager & COO for a biotechnology fund management, focusing on investment in early-stage biotech ventures and commercialisation.

Agatha holds a PhD in Medical Biochemistry from the University of Cape Town and has completed post-Doctoral research in South Africa and the USA. She obtained her BSc (Biochemistry and Physiology) and MSc (Biochemistry) from the University of the North. She completed a Management Advancement Programme at Wits Business School to help her transition from laboratory to business.

Agatha loves to travel and enjoys experiencing different cultures and sampling local cuisine.

Hannes Prinsloo

Country Sales Director

Hannes comes with a wealth of experience and strong commercial operations expertise stretching over 30 years within the Bottling system; truly an example of “home grown timber”.

In his most recent role, of General Manager Commercial, he managed the Revenue Growth, Route to Market, Category management, Channel Development and Knowledge and Insights. His previous experiences include that of General Manager Operations, District Manager and National Account Manager.

Among his career achievements, he counts being inducted as a Grand Master in 2021, which is a true testament to his passion for people, strong work ethic, and unwavering commitment to performance. The Masters are seasoned professionals in our core functions (Commercial, Logistics & Manufacturing) who have consistently delivered exceptional results in their 20-plus years of service in the organisation. CCBSA bestows its highest honour these professionals who have shown exemplary commitment, fortitude, passion, loyalty and most importantly, value-adding leadership.

In May 2023, at the annual Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) General Management Meeting (GMM) Awards, he was honoured to receive the CEO Award, which honours exceptional leadership that sets a clear example of consistently living our values. In his leisure time, Hannes follows a wide variety of debate platforms and sports.

Mkuseli Dlikilili

Human Resources Director

Prior to Mkuseli’s appointment to CCBSA, Mkuseli was Group Executive: Human Resources at Pioneer Foods, he  worked for leading South African organisations, including Eskom, SAB, Dulux and Portnet.

Mkuseli’s extensive experience in the FMCG environment includes playing a leading role in Pioneer Foods’ successful listing on the JSE and the integration of SA Dried Fruit and Ceres Fruit Juices. Mkuseli is passionate about empowering and developing people to realise their full potential, as well as contributing positively to all the spheres of their lives, and the accentuation of human dignity. He describes himself as an authentic, resilient, reliable, courageous, humble, principled and value-based person, and a committed Human Resources professional.