Namdeb beyond Oranjemund
It is a little over 100 days that new Namdeb General Manager Riaan Burger (RB) has assumed the reigns of the diamond mining giant. Already he has a lot of things he must get right.
First, Namdeb needs to be cost-effective and productive after a sloppy 2011 to create profits to build on its new 2012 and 2014 projects.
Secondly, the long term dream of Namdeb needs investment—increase in knowledge of our in-shore and mid-water areas while finding technical solutions to mine in these challenging environments.
Finally, Oranjemund - there has to be a winning formula for everyone after the town’s proclamation. In this interview, he gets to the bottom of matters.
PF: How did you find yourself in the mining industry?
RB: After completing my mechanical engineering degree in 1990, I worked in the aviation industry for a few years but by 1994, I saw no further career growth. I then decided to apply to Namdeb, and joined the company in January 1995 as an assistant engineer. I have never looked back.
PF: What are your key responsibilities in Namdeb today? How far and how huge is the level of your responsibility?
RB: I have the overall responsibility for Namdeb’s operations, inclusive of our three mining areas, our future projects and the communities in which we operate. In this regard, my number one priority is the safety of our people followed by the responsibility to look after Namdeb’s current and future profitability. At the same time, I am also very conscious of our accountability for ensuring that we are a good corporate citizen that makes a lasting contribution to Namibia.
PF: Of course, 17 years at an organisation like Namdeb is no fluke. What are the lessons learnt which has enabled you to reach this far?
RB: I must admit that I have learnt a lot in my 17 years at Namdeb! Most of what I have learnt has come the hard way – by making a number of mistakes first. I think, first and foremost, it has been the realisation that everything that a business achieves comes from talented people and that the number one role of any leader is to select, coach, mentor and create the right environment for talented people to flourish. I have also learnt that strong teams must have diverse people who are able to bring different perspectives to a problem. The only things that they need to have in common are a positive attitude and a common set of values.
Refer to the Prime Focus Magazine for remainder of article