My career

Gebhard Ilunga

Walter Kariko (WK) talks to Bank Windhoek web content developer and administrator Gebhard Ilunga (GI) about combining his passion for technology and marketing.

WK: Who is Gebhard Ilunga beyond the professional?
GI: I was born at Oshakati to Sion Sheehama and Hulda Ilunga. I come from a big family, so my childhood has been an exciting and nurturing roller coaster ride. I was raised in Windhoek and attended St Paul’s College before moving to Windhoek International School (WIS), where I graduated with an international baccalaureate diploma. WIS was quite an extraordinary school because it helped shape me by exposing me to many different people, cultures and ways of doing things. Attending WIS allowed me to travel abroad at the tender age of 12, which sparked my wanderlust and desire to always learn and experience new things. I have obtained a bachelor’s degree in commerce, specialising in marketing and management, from Monash University.

Surprisingly, I started my career in banking instead of marketing as a customer care officer. This experience gave me invaluable insights into the intricacies of financial operations and customer service. For some reason, it is as if destiny was trying to tell me something from the onset. After working at the bank, I had the opportunity to briefly work in Nigeria. At that point, I had never seen a group of more driven and positive people in my life, even when faced with so much adversity, which was inspiring. Nigeria sparked my entrepreneurial spirit, so when I returned home, I ventured into business, writing various bankable business plans for many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Namibia. Economic challenges eventually guided me back into the formal job market again. This time, I chose to pursue a career I had studied for, which is advertising and marketing, and the rest is history.

WK: What is your role as a web content developer and administrator in the marketing and corporate communication services department?
My role is quite broad, but I am responsible for the performance and overall management of the Bank Windhoek and Capricorn Private Wealth websites and the bank’s intranet to ensure optimal performance and user experience. I work closely with various teams, including web developers, designers and content creators, to ensure the website meets Bank Windhoek and Capricorn Private Wealth’s business objectives.

WK: Walk us through your career journey.
My advertising/marketing journey started at an ad agency called Adforce. I fondly recall audaciously applying for a huge account director position, propelled by my inspiration from Nigeria. During my interview, my boss then, Femi Kayode, labelled me as having “illusions of grandeur” but he loved my tenacity, so he gave me a chance as his “shadow”. Since then, I have never seen a position like that again in my professional career. I was basically his phantom assistant. It was a humbling experience that allowed me to start from the bottom and experience all the divisions of an advertising company. I learnt a lot and grew from pillar to pillar until I was an account manager, taking care of some of the biggest banking brands in Namibia.

I moved to top advertising agencies, namely Weathermen & Co (Brand X) and Advantage, where I had the opportunity to manage other banking brands and expand my portfolio. These agencies shaped my character and sharpened my love for people. They taught me endurance and the ability to work with various people with varying influences.

I moved to my first “corporate” entity, as we advertisers call it, four years ago, which is a notable powerhouse in the insurance industry. This experience taught me to be meticulous, precise and purposeful. It stimulated my love for project management and subsequently, my desire to study the theory behind the practical work.

Technology has intrigued me since I was a kid, so I studied agile project management at the University of Cape Town. I played a pivotal role in developing some innovative solutions, to the extent that I won an award for innovation in 2022. I guess the culmination of these experiences brought me here today, working for the ‘Red Bank’, our Namibian gem.

WK: When did you join Bank Windhoek? Was it always your dream to be a web content developer?
I joined Bank Windhoek on 15 March, so I am just under two months into the job and loving it. I never thought I would become a web content developer specifically. Still, I have always yearned for a job that could combine my passion for technology and marketing into one perfect blend, so I am delighted to have found it here at Bank Windhoek.

WK: What is it like being a web content developer and administrator at one of Namibia’s prominent banks?
It is a daunting task but I am up for the challenge. Because it is a bank, one must ensure adherence to web security protocols and procedures while providing customers with a seamless and aesthetically pleasing experience.

WK: Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I love creating and finding new, innovative ways to do things. I love that it is not monotonous and that there is something new to experience daily, a sentiment that aligns well with my childhood ambitions.

WK: What are the three top skills one needs for the future, especially in your industry?
You need to be empathetic, understand what your customers are going through and utilise data to make informed decisions.
You need to be able to be a unifier, coordinating various stakeholders towards one unified goal. A mentor once said to me, “Alone, you can go fast, but together, you can go further”, and that has always resonated with me, especially when it comes to teamwork and collaboration.

And lastly, being malleable to tech is very important. Tech will make the lives of our customers more accessible in the future and we must embrace it.

WK: What advice would you give a young Gebhard who just graduated?
My advice, not just to myself but to young graduates, is to take more chances while you are young, be audacious and daring, fail and get up again. You do not want to run around like a headless chicken in your late 30s and 40s.

WK: Who are your mentors?
I have many people who inspire me, and having many in different spheres of your life is essential so that you do not breed complacency. They would be too many to mention on this platform, but they know who they are.

WK: Recommend a few good reads.
‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe, ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu, ‘Writing Without Bull***t’ by Josh Bernoff and ‘Lightseekers’ by Femi Kayode.

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