With a leadership position at The Coca-Cola Company that takes her travelling across Southern Africa on a regular basis and three children ranging in age from 18 to three years old, Phillipine Mtikitiki says integrating her ‘work’ and ‘life’ calendars is key to integrating between work and family time.

As Region Franchise Manager at The Coca-Cola Company responsible for Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia, Phillipine spends much of her time travelling between these countries from her base in South Africa.

“I’m meticulous about planning ahead and making sure all the important dates – both work and family-related – are in the diary in advance so that I can be home for the important moments,” she says.

Having grown up in a township near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, Phillipine is one of five children. Her mother, a teacher, instilled the importance of education in all her children. After finishing her matric, Phillipine was awarded a bursary and completed her Bachelor of Administration at the University of KwaZulu Natal. She later went on to complete her Honours in Economics, funding her tuition by working part time. After she was recruited for an intensive management programme from University where she joined the The Coca-Cola Company and then moved on to work for different bottling entities in South Africa in different functions and roles of increasing responsibility for 13 years.

She celebrated her 20 years Coca-Cola system anniversary in January this year. During her working career she completed her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) at Henley Business School.

When the opportunity came up for the role of Region Franchise Manager, Phillipine says it was a big decision. “We sat down as a family,” she says. “There was lots of debate – less about the technical capabilities required, and more about how it would impact our family due to the increase in the travel.”

Her husband, Zolani has been a big support: “It’s a real partnership – sharing the lifting the kids to and from school and helping out with homework and other responsibilities.”

Having leaders at work who also understand the pressures of balancing life and work has also helped.

Wherever possible Phillipine’s family joins her on her travels – whether during school holidays or for the odd weekend. She is keen for her children to explore the world in general and African specifically, a young age.

“These are experiences that help broaden children’s world beyond their life in South Africa,” she says. “Not only is it about enjoying the beauty of these different cities and countries but understanding the history and fabric of a place.”

“I take multiplicities of my different roles in life very seriously. I appreciate the gift of a wider family, friends, community and the role they play to support me in life.”

After Phillipine’s older sister passed away, she became the oldest aunt, who performs important traditional responsibilities beyond her own children – whether it’s helping her aging parents or guiding her nephews and nieces on their future career paths.

“We work together as a collective, and as the oldest aunt, I try to teach by example,” she adds. “It’s my way of passing down traditional knowledge to the next generation.”

She is also passionate about advancement of women in South Africa and sits on the board of the Business Women’s Association of South Africa.