Jovan Bowles: The career turnover

“A system that looks easy in my eyes is a system that has had a lot of hard hours behind it to achieve that simplicity. For me simplicity means perfection.”-Jovan Bowles
 
The former professional rugby player, talks about his change of career paths from the physicality’s of rugby to the business of coffee.
 
Where are you currently located on the planet? Cape Town, South Africa, "The Mother City."

You currently work at a coffee company that is providing coffee on the go, tell us more? Vida e Cafèzinho is the name and mobile coffee is the game. We are the mobile coffee activation franchise of the South African coffee empire known as Vida e Caffè.Vida e Cafèzinho provides premium mobile coffee services to all corporate and private hospitality events. Cafèzinho takes Estrela (Vida's 100% arabica coffee beans) premium coffee directly to loyal Vida e Caffè customers, wherever they are. Delivering 'great coffee wherever you go' is the Vida e Cafèzinho motto. Cafèzinho operates from a completely self sufficient mobile coffee bar unit, which only requires power to operate from any location. So clients only need to supply power and voila....Your own private Vida e Caffè experience at your event. My position at Vida e Cafèzinho is National Operations Manager. I'm literally the man on the ground, so I oversee all the day-to-day operations of the business and need to be present at every event to ensure Vida e Caffè's high service levels and product quality standards are maintained and adhered to. (FirstStep.me say's nice one!)
 
Where did you kick-start your career and how did you progress to get to where you are now? My first career  started when I was seventeen years old. Straight out of school I was contracted to the Natal Rugby Union as a junior player. I applied my rugby talent there for four years before moving to the Valke Rugby Union (Northern Gauteng Rugby Union), where I had my first senior provincial rugby game against the Natal Rugby Union. I attained my highest achievement in rugby the following year when I was part of the Springbok Sevens setup. During my Springbok Sevens career we visited amazing places around the world like Dubai (where we won that IRB Sevens Tournament), Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Edinburgh! After Seven's was complete I had to find my way back into the fifteen man rugby scene, which began in beautiful East London where I played for the Border Bulldogs Rugby Union for a year. I eventually found a home in Potchefstroom (a small town in the North West Province) where I played for three years as a professional rugby player for the Platinum Leopards Rugby Union. I had a memorable three years at the Platinum Leopards and I was offered an extension to my contract by the Platinum Leopard Union to continue my professional career with the Leopards. However, I received a call from my old school friends of more than twenty years offering me an option to be National Operations Manager for this wonderful company known as Vida e Cafèzinho. I thought to myself that living in Cape Town and working for a premium mobile coffee company would be a new and exciting journey. So, I packed up my life into my car and I headed downhill from Potchefstroom to the 021 (Cape Town's dialling code). I haven't looked back since. (FirstStep.me takes notes for career changes!)
 
In terms of the global economic climate, what are the concerns and opportunities that you see in a market that is lifestyle orientated like Vida e Cafèzinho? My concern is that consumer consumption habits will change as a result of the current global economic climate. Everyone's feeling the pinch, so I'm concerned loyal Vida e Caffè customers might start lowering their high standards of consuming quality freshly ground Vida coffee everyday and resort to drinking cheeper alternatives like instant coffee for the sake of saving a buck. Especially in the corporate conferencing sector where there are a lot of conference delegates who seek premium quality coffee, but can't have it due to conference event organisers only budgeting for inferior quality and cheap instant coffee. The market opportunity I see Cafèzinho exploring during the current global economic climate is setting up more fixed long-term installations within corporate office parks that cater for internal staff and visitor coffee requirements, important corporate meetings, product launches, and internal events. Vida e Cafèzinho will be exploring this long-term corporate rental model during the course of 2012.
 
Do you believe that your daily working career should be ignited with a cup of coffee in the morning?...(FirstStep.me is inspired by coffee!!) Of course, without a doubt! The Vida way of starting a day is by having a double/single Meia De Leite (Estrela premium espresso shot with steamed milk) in a solo cup with an array of sweet or savoury food items that hit the sensors just right. That leaves a smile on your face for the rest of the day and makes you want to experience that feeling again every morning.
 
Any career is a challenging one, is there one challenge that is tougher than the rest in your field? Managing all the operational components of the business to achieve outstanding performance at every event from my barista staff and infrastructural equipment. As in any business there are always operational glitches, so having the right operational systems and infrastructure in place can help you find solutions to issues sooner.
 
What do you see your career in next 5 to 10 years developing into? I see Vida e Cafèzinho providing its premium mobile coffee service internationally. I see Cafèzinho becoming the mobile coffee provider of choice for all corporate events, product launches, seminars, exhibitions, or conferences. My ultimate vision would be to have Cafèzinho providing its mobile coffee services to a large multinational company executing a big international product launch across London, Nairobi, Johannesburg, and New York all in three weeks and Cafèzinho would be there every step of the way. (FirstStep.me gives a thumbs up!)
 
In terms of the working world do you feel that innovation is the key to sustainability or is it the good old “work hard and sleep when you dead” ideology that is better? A mixture of both I think is not a bad thing. If you have an idea, press on through until you feel you've pursued it hard enough to be proud of what you have achieved. Don't sit up till 3:00am with an idea bubble that's achieving nothing. Always keep striving to make your systems better and simplier. A system that looks easy in my eyes is a system that has had a lot of hard hours behind it to achieve that simplicity. For me simplicity means perfection.
 
What has been the most insane experience that has happened in your career both in rugby and at Vida e Cafèzinho? My most insane rugby moment was winning the 2006 IRB Air Emirates Dubai Sevens Tournament with the Springbok Sevens side I was involved in. We played infront of a packed  stadium of 40 000 people, of which 15 000 were SA expats. We were losing to New Zealand 12 - 0 at half time. We eventually turned it around and won that game 33 - 12. I felt humbled and very blessed to be involved in that moment. My most insane Vida e Cafèzinho moment to date was overseeing Cafèzinho's mobile coffee presence at the recent COP 17 Conference (Congress of the People Climate Change Conference) that was held in Durban. I felt very proud to be involved in a company that was just starting out, but was getting such massive international exposure. The COP 17 international delegates that sampled Cafèzinho's premium mobile coffee during the conference all enjoyed the taste and quality of the premium Vida coffee we were providing. This reassured me that Vida e Cafèzinho is ready and capable of providing its premium mobile coffee offering on an international stage.
 
Are there any people in business that inspire you? My new Vida e Cafèzinho team mates of course are a massive inspiration to me in the business world. Many people have inspired my life, too many to mention. Those who have inspired my life outside of business have also supported me inside business by what they've taught me. They've given me the opportunity to implenment those lessons into my business practices and for that I'm thankful.
 
What words of advice do you have for the youth of the world who want to take on a career with the sort of ambition that you have shown? Never be afraid to ask for advice from those who have been there before!
 
Finally if you could name your own planet what would you call it? JKL! It's a saying I've always had and always think of it when times are challenging. JKL is an acronym for JUST KEEP ON LIVING (JK Livin).  It's one of the ways I get through a tough situation and it puts a good smile on my face and makes me remember that I'm always supported. JK Livin is all I need to do. So, that's what I would call my planet.