Meet Victor Mpofu, Joburg warehouse manager, better known as Vic – masterful logistics mind, passionate people-feeder, team leader extraordinaire, and all-round great guy.
Q: Tell us about your journey.
A: I left school in Grade 7 and started out in life as a taxi driver. After three years, when one of my best friends died in 1994, I decided the taxi industry wasn’t for me. My break into the hospitality industry happened by chance when I went door-to-door looking for employment in Savoy, and I accepted the only vacancy available at Longhorn Steakhouse, which was for a dishwasher. About a month in to the job, one of the chefs called in sick and the owner asked if anyone knew how to make oxtail – but it came with the warning that if it didn’t turn out well you would be fired. I decided to take a chance, and that day turned out to be my first as a chef.
After five years with Longhorn I moved to Pretoria to open O Gallito in Hatfield. I had no formal training but I watched the other chefs, learned, and as soon as I could master something I was promoted into a new position. After a few years I needed a new challenge and decided I wanted to become a waiter, so in 2004 I joined a restaurant in Brooklyn where Roberto Rosa gave me a job as a runner. After a week I was promoted to a waiter. Mr Rosa saw that I had potential and advanced me to weekend supervisor and then manager, sending me on food & beverage courses. When he moved to Centurion Lake Hotel, he asked me to join him, which I did reluctantly because my heart wasn’t in hotels. An Assistant F&B Manager position became available and after three months’ probation I was hired. I knew hardly anything, so they sent me on many courses and workshops, and I had the opportunity to work in Ghana and Namibia. In 2011, I met Ozzy Nel, who was working at the Davinci, and the rest is history! We worked together for many years for Legacy, and just as I had decided to open up a business in the community where I grew up in Alex, Ozzy asked him to join him in an exciting new opportunity at Jamie’s Italian at Melrose Arch. I worked there from the first of January 2017 until the restaurant was closed due to COVID-19.
As I was sitting at home during lockdown, not knowing what to do, Ozzy called me again. He told me he had met an amazing guy called Alan Browde, and offered me the opportunity to volunteer to do something for the nation, feeding people. After meeting Alan and Suzy, I was in! I’ve worked in many places in my life and I’ve never felt the way I feel now. When I have contact with the beneficiaries, I feel so touched. And I know that I’m leaving a legacy. One day I’ll be able to tell my kids that no matter how difficult life gets, you can make it through by God’s grace. This is just the beginning for SA Harvest, because we are working on creating a platform for people not just to be fed, but to learn skills that will allow them to feed themselves in the future. That’s a true legacy.
Q: What do you love about what you do?
A: The smile on the faces of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from when you give them a meal. I’ve also had the chance to tour the country, learning about new places and meeting different characters.
Q: What has lockdown taught you?
A: Never take things for granted. Make room for change. And learn to adapt to change, both professionally and personally.
Q: What would you wish for if you were granted one wish?
A: I would wish for the whole world to be a better place for everyone, regardless of where you live or what your skin colour is.
In the words of our team, when describing Vic…
Ozzy Nel, operations manager: “A natural leader and great motivator. Amazing with teams”
Shelly Abbey, admin manager: “Dedicated, passionate, persistent, generous and hardworking”