Dr Elsabe Botes

Dr Elsabe Botes


Owner/Director at Test It LAB

Academic Background

BSc (Botany and Genetics) UFS 1997
BSc Hons (Genetics) UFS 1998
MSc (Genetics) UFS 2001
PhD (Biotechology) UFS 2008


How did your university experience prepare you for your current career?

Growing up in a small eastern Free State town, the biggest change coming to the UFS was exposure to people who were very different from me. The mid-1990s was simultaneously a tumultuous but exciting time in our country. At that time we were just starting to figure out how to overcome the distance between abstract concepts and day-to-day practicalities; the difference between negotiating and having a conversation; and integration and getting along. I’ve taken that principle with me, and what makes me excited now is to take the book of knowledge I have acquired during my time at UFS and turn that into practical day-to-day positive impacts.

Which characteristics or skills are essential for the workplace?

Such a cliché, but people skills are invaluable. Having insight into how a person thinks and functions puts you in a different league than your competitors. Having a personal relationship with a customer is often the difference between getting invoices settled this week rather than next week! Getting along with a colleague can be the difference between having support for eight hours per day (33%!) versus being isolated.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Getting a degree or two or three or even four (!) may provide you with the critical thinking skills to analyse and solve a problem or the physical skill set to operate delicate laboratory equipment. This is the easy part. What we tend to forget is that whatever job you have, our jobs are geared towards, or are dependent on, or in some way connected to, people. This is the challenging part. Understanding something as fundamental as the basic personality types will give you the tools to approach different people – do I need to wow this person with knowledge and facts, or will they respond to feeling excited about a new project? It is important to know that these “soft skills” are not an elusive, ethereal “talent”, it is something that can be taught and learned – and achieving success is highly dependent on learning and honing these skills.

What drives you to excel in your career?

My aim is to be exceptional in all things that I have committed to – I simply do not have a “medium” or “mediocre” setting. In is IN!

Our motto at Test It LAB is “Obsessively accurate” and this focused-bordering-on-obsessive way of thinking is what drives me to be and do and mean more.

What are the best opportunities for someone entering your career?

“Yesterday, nations went to war for land. Today, conflict is around energy. Tomorrow, battles will be fought for water.” We are already aware that the quantity of water available to us is limited – Cape Town is an excellent case in point. The next focus will be around the QUALITY of our water supply. The statistics speak for themselves: In developing countries, as much as 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation, exposure to unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene, which are leading causes of cholera and a variety of infectious and tropical diseases in Africa. Water touches every aspect of our lives, which means that there are no limits to potential opportunities in the water sector.

Name three things you wish you had been told as a university student.

  • If you hire an employee, a person will show up.
  • Budgets are more important than you think.
  • You can only control what you do.

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