What industry do you work in and what exactly are your skills?
I work within the commercial sector in the mining industry in the area of Supply Chain Management, but focusing on global shipping and logistics. I am a skilled supply chain, logistics and demand planning practitioner.
What inspired you to get into this sort of industry?
Originally from Southern Africa, the demand for these type of skills/capability set was not representative enough in major industries apart from mining, so it was a natural progression that I would end up in the mining sector having come from telecommunications. Second, the mining sector has a broad mix of the type of organizations I would like to offer my skills/capabilities set to, from multinationals to top tier-blue chip companies.
What qualifications and experience did you have to gain in order to establish yourself and therefore become a professional within your industry?
I have to offer a different paradigm here: a lot of potential candidates are awash with certificates, diplomas, degrees et al, but very few have industry certification and content experience in global trade. There is a vast difference between a certificate and certification. Typically you would need a good dose of undergraduate tertiary education in commerce, business or or a specialization in supply chain, purchasing or logistics but equally important is the role of capability and experience within a professional or corporate environment. There is no substitute for experience. Supply chain need people with fire in the belly, because it is a dynamic field within the global economy, where you need to understand the impact of international trade instruments, global world trade organizations, customs nomenclature and shipping. You need to have the length and breadth of all these avenues in order to be successful, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
What is the most challenging aspect within your field of work?
I think the greatest challenge I have come across is to get all the different instruments of trade enacted by governments in regional trading blocs to talk to customs and excise so that they can understand these too as well. These mechanisms of trade are put in place to facilitate trade, but often, customs and excise seems to undermine the very principles thereof by insisting on individual interpretation of the act based on the person in front of you.
How do you manage and overcome these challenges?
Communication is key with all stakeholders within the pipeline especially understanding the needs of the other party. What I found to work is to have a robust communication plan with all the instruments of trade and stakeholders from shipping lines to customs authorities and logistics. Second is the ability to gauge and understand the laws and regulations related to international trade and the application thereof in different countries and to appeal to common sense.
What has been the highlight of your career?
Being given an assignment, running with it successfully and achieving the stated objectives on time, within budget and to a quality that is unassailable in a remote mining operation of West Africa.
What could somebody expect to earn within your field at starting level or at trainee level?
There is a plethora of wage surveys covering the vast span of the mining industry and these are generally a good indication but I have found that it depends on your geographical region, experience and qualifications. The blueprint is not what am I prepared to earn as an employee, but rather, for the type or set of skills I am offering, what would be a fair compensation in lieu thereof? This type of skills/capability set has been bench-marked anywhere between USD120k to USD165k.
What could somebody expect to earn after working within your field after 10 years?
The sky is the limit. Natural progression will determine at what level you will bottom out after 10 years, on the proviso this would not be in the same role of responsibility.
Who is your role model and why?
My brother, Dr Vetja Haakuria. He taught me even before I went to primary school and then went back to university in his 30’s and took a rigorous 12 year stint to move from undergraduate to honors, masters and PhD from UCL, London and currently reading for his second masters in veterinary science. The sheer grit, determination and will to succeed made my efforts pale into sheer insignificance and I have been forever humbled.
What motivates you to work this hard?
I have to live up to my own high expectations (walk the talk) and ethos and secondly the pursuit of bankable experience. Every assignment or project succesfuly completed adds to my repertoire of skills/experience. I want to leave behind an indelible footmark that is unmistakenbly me, unlike the footprint in the Namib desert that disappears the moment you take the next step. Lastly, due recognition in the form of equitable compensation.
What is your outlook within your industry over the next 5 years?
Double digit growth in Africa will continue unabated for the next decade and resource rich countries especially in the mining sector will continue to register significant growth. The challenge is for the human capital to keep pace and abreast: new technologies and new avenues of achieving the same result but equitably with the least carbon footprint. That is where the most significant challenge is going to be. We can pluck and dug up as much as we can, but are we going to do this sustainably?
As you know, numerous African countries are being invested in due to their rich minerals. Which country within Africa do you think will be the next hot spot and why?
I think a lot of countries in the ECOWAS region plus sub-Saharan countries in the eastern belt such as Ethiopia and Malawi. Ethiopia has the 2nd largest population grid in Africa and will most probably accede to the WTO (World Trade Organization) in the near future and that will open up a host number of industries poised for significant growth and investment. Those that are caught napping will be left behind.