Every once in a while we are lucky enough to be granted access to have easy chats with various individuals behind some of the biggest brands locally. Case in point comes in the shape of Ford South Africa’s Brand Manager, Mr Atloli Lesela, who was kind enough to indulge us. Great insights he shared with us not only on his personal life but also Ford’s exciting upcoming plans from a local point of view:
- Could you please tell us a bit about yourself? Who is Atloli Lesela?
I’m the Brand Manager for Passenger Cars at Ford South Africa, looking after iconic nameplates like the Ford Mustang, Focus, Fiesta, Figo, Kuga, and Ecosport.
Working for a company like Ford, with its rich heritage, has turned me into an avid motoring enthusiast. But to my wife and two daughters I’m just Atloli Lesela.
- Prior to joining Ford Motor Company South Africa, can you please let us know about your previous roles?
I deem it as a privilege that I was able to join Ford straight from varsity upon completing my studies at Vista University, which is now the University of Johannesburg, where I obtained my BCom, majoring in Accounting and Business Management.
Most of my 22 years at the Blue Oval were spent at Ford Credit, the financial services arm of Ford Motor Company, were I started as a Credit Analyst in 1996.
I progressed up the ranks over the years from my initial position, to Financial Analyst, Dealer Account Manager and Credit & Risk Manager.
While I was still with Ford Credit, I took somewhat of an “off-ramp” in 2016 by accepting a position as Marketing Manager.
That decision proved to be a catalyst that completely changed my career at Ford because just a year later I was appointed as Brand Manager within the bigger Ford Motor Company of South Africa.
It was a great career growth opportunity that I was offered by the company. It took me out of my comfort zone and literally opened up new possibilities for me.
As a result, I now probably have one of the best jobs in the world that puts me at the pulse of what’s happening in the world of motoring, and of cause grants me the opportunity to experience some of the best cars on offer.
- What attracted you to FMCSA?
With my education background in finance, I could have ended up anywhere but as luck would have it, I saw an advertisement for a position at Ford, applied and got the job.
And if I had to do it all over, I would choose the very same path.
- With so many great vehicles Ford currently has in its stable, which one would you say is your favourite and why?
The Ford Focus ST remains my all-time favourite car. It’s exhilarating performance, precise handling and every day practicality make it a very difficult option to beat for someone looking for an all-round great vehicle. In fact, over the years, I’ve driven six Focus ST’s in various colours.
I currently drive the similarly iconic Ford Ranger that is built right here in South Africa. It’s consistently one of the best-selling vehicles in the country, which speaks volumes about its reputation as a reliable, go-anywhere bakkie that also offers the comfort one would typically only expect in a passenger car.
If I’m lucky enough, though, I might even get to sample the new Ford Ranger Raptor, which has really raised the bar in terms of off-road capability, handling and ruggedness. It is for me the ultimate bakkie.
- We were lucky enough to form part of the fantastic EcoSport #GoWander experience, does Ford plan on doing more of such experiences going forward?
Indeed. We always aim to be innovative not only in our vehicle design, build and use of new technology, but also in how we market our various products. So you can always be assured of amazing marketing concepts from Ford in South Africa and around the world.
- If possible, could you please let us know what your plans are for Ford SA both in the immediate and distant future?
There are several big reveals that are coming down the line in the next few months. We are looking forward to the local launch of the next generation Mustang that is due to land on our shores in 2019, and the Ford Kuga ST-line that is sure shake up things in the SUV market with its striking looks. Then there’s the new Everest, Ranger and Ranger Raptor that will all debut in South Africa next year.
Special thanks to Mr Lesela as well as Ford SA for the great and rare interview.