Leading from the front

Kaputu is the epitome of executive competence

04 October 2019 | Mense
Elizabeth Joseph

The National Art Gallery of Namibia's chief executive officer Snobia Kaputu has been with the institution for 14 years, and stepped into the hot seat in October 2017, where she is to date.

While at high school, Kaputu had a strong passion for writing poems, acting and dancing, therefore, after completing matric at Immanuel Shifidi High School, although she received several job offers, she opted for a humble beginning, by joining the Namibia National Cultural Troupe.

The troupe was established by the late Andre Strauss, the then deputy director in the education ministry.

“Due to my family background, I could not afford to study full-time; I therefore decided to work and study part-time. I completed all my qualifications through part-time studying,” she says.

Being a CEO of such an established company, she to prove that women are able to lead in top executive positions.

Kaputu said her contribution is humbly giving her best, with a caring and passionate heart.

“I want to be counted among the list of the leaders who bring positive change in the lives of the needy, especially our visual artists; and secondly, to implement projects and activities in our institution, which will give a positive outlook to the current negative picture being painted about public enterprises,” she says.

She is convinced that when a leader has passion, humility and a belief in servant leadership, nothing will hinder achieving the mandate of an entity.

Being the boss

As the CEO, her duties include taking responsibility for the development of the NAGN’s vision, strategy, business plans and budgets, which she recommends to the board of trustees.

It also comprises planning, directing and controlling the operations of the gallery. She has to lead staff and provide direction for content, programmes and strategic goals.

Kaputu ensures that the institution has a positive and ethical work environment, which is conducive to attract and retain staff members. She is the main instigator of a performance-based culture at all levels of the institution.

Although this sounds exhausting and too much, she conquers each day with resilience and poise.

“In short, I act as the primary interface between the board and management, while being the public face of the NAGN in dealing with our major stakeholders,” she says.


Kaputu says that one needs creativity and innovation, although honesty and integrity, coupled with accountability and the ability to influence others, are also critical character traits in her industry.

Greatest inspiration

Kaputu says she has been inspired by many people along her journey, but no one more than Inge Zaamwani Kamwi. “I have always been inspired by her leadership style and dreamed that one day she could become my mentor.”

Advice to the youth

“Never use your past as an excuse not to achieve your destiny. Listen to elders’ advice. Wisdom comes with age. Also, never believe that it is impossible to do what you want to do, and always surround yourself with positive energy and innovative thinkers,” she advised youth.

Fact box

· She is firm and humble.

· She doesn’t believe anything is impossible.

· She enjoys the company of children and youth.

· She appreciates elders’ advice and likes to be around them.

· She’s a jokester and loves making jokes, but says she knows when not to make them.

· She has a diploma in personnel management and a degree in business administration from Nust. Kaputu has completed her coursework towards a masters in leadership and change management, and is still to conclude thesis paper to obtain her master’s.



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