SHE recently stepped into the role of Company Secretary for the Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR), a situation Charmaine Gaingos describes as remarkable.
Gaingos has extensive administration experience and a comprehensive understanding of the law having obtained a B Juris and an LLB from the University of Namibia. She is an admitted legal practitioner in the Windhoek High Court, and prior to joining NWR also served as a Risk, Governance and Company Secretary Specialist at Old Mutual Namibia.
Gaingos said that her objectives amongst others include promoting good corporate governance, implementing sound governance frameworks as well as ensuring compliance with the local corporate law.
In an interview with Confidente recently, Gaingos talked about her career, her views on more women joining the bench as judges as well as her plans to visit all NWR resorts countrywide.
Give us a snapshot of who you are?
I am a woman, a dreamer, a feminist, a realist, a proud Namibian and a loving child. I am a student of life and a well-balanced individual. I believe in God, honesty, integrity, fairness, hard work and justice. And I am all those things every hour of every day.
Briefly tell us about your upbringing?
I was raised by a very loving and supportive mother and father who encouraged education, independence and discipline. I am most definitely a product of that. My father is very practical in his approach to things. He shows you this action can have these consequences then you are left to make your choice equipped with that knowledge. Because of him I am very rational in my approach to life, I weigh all my options before making any decision. My mother had a softer approach to life, she is the reason I always dream big and have faith that things will always work out for the best.
Congratulations on your new appointment, how did that come about?
I saw an advert in a newspaper and I applied. I then went for the interview and did some assessments and here I am.
From practicing law to being a company secretary, why did you decide on the change?
I always planned to go corporate after five years in practice and that is what I did. I believe that as people we always need to strive to improve ourselves and to learn more. It does not help anyone to remain in a position where you are not challenged anymore and where it feels like you can perform your tasks with your eyes closed. That is what practice started to feel like. It was time for a change, a new challenge.
How does it feel to step into the former shoes of your boss?
It is awesome to still have the previous company secretary within reach, she is a wealth of wisdom and always there to assist and give guidance. She is also an inspiration for me, proof that hard work can get you places. And it helps to have a mentor who encourages growth and openly speaks of succession planning.
What experience or training has prepared you for this position?
There is nothing to prepare you for change, you either learn to swim or you drown. That said, I must add that it does help that I joined a team of people who want to see the business succeed, and with that common goal keeping us together, I received all the support that I needed to settle in. If there is however one thing that I can say about private practice, you learn long hours and endless reading, that is coming in very handy right now.
Describe your proudest accomplishments in your legal career?
I do not think anything comes close to the moment I was admitted as a legal practitioner in the High Court. After the motion was passed, all I had to do was read out the oath but the moment was just so much for me, took me a couple of minutes to read those few lines. I think growing up we all have those dream careers, and at that moment I had reached mine, it was a little overwhelming.
Don’t you think it’s time for more women to be appointed to the bench?
This is actually an issue which is raised at many platforms within the legal fraternity, and women are constantly encouraged to apply for such positions. When the Judicial Service Commission has a vacancy, they write to the Law Society for nominees. Then the Law Society sends out an email to its members with all the requirements and forms to be completed. From there they can only choose from the people who actually apply, people who want to become judges. I think there is a lack of interest from us women. And it is sad, I am not saying women make better judges but I am also not saying that they don’t.
What will you do to ensure women especially the previously disadvantaged flourish at NWR?
NWR prioritises good governance in all its employee relations, Affirmative Action is adhered to in all recruitment selections. NWR also encourages a high performance culture. This means that even though we may be given opportunities, we as women will need to perform to flourish, there is nothing that can replace hard work. And hard work is rewarded with career progression. A casual stroll through NWR corridors will show you that there is female representation at all levels.
Just what do you do for a little fun?
My downtime is literally downtime. Catching up on sleep is fun time for me. I am not an adventurous person; I would rather lay on a beach than go climb a mountain. I love to travel and next on my list is to visit each and every NWR resort and thereafter make my whole family do the same.
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