How long have you been at Namdeb and in what roles?
I have been with De Beers Group now for 28 years, the last 27 at Namdeb. I started at Koffiefontein Mine in 1989 to 1991 as Engineering Foreman and also completed my Government Certificate of Competency for Mechanical and Electrical Engineers towards the end of my time there.
Since then, I have held various engineering and management positions, including the role of Head of Safety and Sustainability, and my current job is Mine Manager for our Orange River Mines.
What exactly does your current role involve?
I take full responsibility for all the active mines and people we have along the Orange River in Namibia. I have production targets and have to ensure we meet them in a
What do you like most about your job?
What I love most is the motivating of people to become better in their jobs and to show them that no individual is better than the team. Happy and contented people perform better. I take great satisfaction from helping to make people successful.
What are the main challenges?
Our main challenge is the current economic stagnation, which has an impact on the mines as well. Also, Orange River Mines work around the clock, 365 days a year. This system poses communication challenges as you have weekly new shifts.
What changes have you introduced?
I am a believer in honest communication with all my team. One change I made is that, once a week, all available members get together in the hostel, where the team members stay when on duty, for a safety and general communication meeting. Members are encouraged to ask questions and we sometimes have robust conversations.
We also run successful Action Centres. An Action Centre is a room where key team members get together for a few minutes before their shift starts to discuss the previous shift and the next one. It is important that members feel their contribution is valued. My door is always open for the individual with a personal problem and, even if I cannot assist, I still take the time to listen. I have introduced several small things to make life more comfortable for the people staying in the hostel – proper wifi, new sewage treatment and water purification plants and the revamping of the rooms and ablution blocks, which were not in a good state. I have also arranged for the fixing and replacing of the air conditioners in the rooms. It gets up to 50 degrees Celsius in summer here.
You have been given an award by the Mineworkers Union of Namibia on behalf of the mine employees for being an exemplary leader: what do you think is the key to your successful leadership?
I believe that life is about relationships. How do you build relationships? One at a time. People want to be listened to and they don’t always want you to come up with a solution. Just by listening, people sometimes come up with their own solutions. The key lies in listening and showing genuine interest. Sometimes, addressing small issues for people delivers great results. You build trust and integrity by doing what you say you will do. It is very important that you make time for individuals. I will always try to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. In the end, this brings success to all of us, including the company. I am also not shy to apologise to people when I make a mistake. Nobody wants perfect leaders; we are all just human beings. People must not even have the perception that you are arrogant.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?
I am a part-time farmer currently and will retire in 2018 to become a full-time farmer. My farm is located in the eastern Kalahari part of southern Namibia and is 3,300 hectares. I farm with sheep, cattle and goats. I will also try my hand at small-scale vegetable and crop farming.