AS a child, growing up in the diamond town of Oranjemund, Pauline Thomas (PT) never thought that she would one day work for one of the country’s biggest diamond companies, Namdeb.
But after completing her studies, she was employed as a freshly-produced graduate, and has been at the company for 16 years. Thomas has been a Namdeb stalwart, having served as its Brand Manager. Her title was, however, adjusted to Manager of Corporate Affairs, after a recent restructuring process. She is tasked with managing the corporate affairs functions of the miner, which include external and internal communication, social performance, stakeholder relations and branding.
Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN) recently caught up with the soft-spoken mother of two daughters, who talked about her career, her passion for writing poetry and spending quality time with loved ones.
MN: Give us a snapshot of who you are.
PT: I was born in northern Namibia, the firstborn of five siblings. At the age of three months, my parents relocated, and my early years are blessed with memories of growing up in Oranjemund. I attended my high school and completed my tertiary education in Windhoek. So I am a true Namibian at heart. I am also a mother to two beautiful daughters and I am currently employed at Namdeb Diamond Corporation. I am an individual with high ideals and goals and my determination and drive have created opportunities throughout my career.
MN: Briefly tell us about your upbringing. Would you say that it played a role in who you are today?
PT: I am who I am today because of the sacrifices of my elders and in particular my parents. They raised me to be humble, yet urged me to be courageous enough to take on challenges, despite the unknown. They embedded a strong value system in me, and most importantly they taught and reminded me that respect can never be compromised.
As stated before, I am fortunate to have grown up in Oranjemund. In a pre-independent Namibia, Namdeb’s predecessor Consolidated Diamond Mines (CDM) paved the way for a non-segregated education system, and this foundation has influenced me throughout life, to see past differences and to value diversity.
Given the above, today I am an individual with determination and drive.
MN: As Corporate Affairs Manager for Namdeb, what does your job entail?
PT: I report to the Office of the Chief Executive Officer and I’m responsible for managing the corporate affairs functions, which include external and internal communications, social performance, stakeholder relations and branding.
MN: You have been with Namdeb for 16 years. What contributions, achievements and memories do you cherish most?
PT: Destiny brought me back to the diamond town I grew up in, when I was successfully interviewed by Namdeb and employed as a graduate.
Just like the facets of a diamond, when I reflect back, there are so many memory facets that shine or standout, but I will always cherish the countless development opportunities, which are too many to mention, afforded to me by the likes of Me Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi, Melissa Shanjengange, Liesel Dentlinger, Ophelia Netta, Percy McCallum, Riaan Burger and Markus Lubbe. Furthermore, my contribution ranges across key roles, such as being the HR business partner, responsible for recruiting all shifts for pocket beaches and redeploying employees, post a fire incident at the Floating Treatment Plant. I also do organisational development campaigns, aimed at teambuilding and other internal employee morale-building initiatives, high-profile events, such as the Sendelingsdrif and the Red Area Complex inauguration and leading teams representing Namdeb at various platforms. Of course, the role I played in the company, both internally and externally, during emotional and unfortunate events, such as industrial action, fatalities and other operational catastrophes, also stands out. Finally, over the years, one builds up relationships, not only within Namdeb, but because of Namdeb, and some of these are friendships I will treasure for years to come.
MN: How has working for the organisation shaped you as a woman and professional?
PT: There is never a dull moment when working for Namdeb Diamond Corporation. It is truly a dynamic diamond company, which has pushed the boundaries over the years, and continues to do so. I have been fortunate to rub shoulders with some of the greatest professionals, and furthermore, I have had mentors, who have helped live out my passion. Namdeb has also been a trendsetter, in purposefully driving the agenda of appreciating gender diversity in a traditionally male-dominated environment (mining). This agenda has helped people like myself to grow, as an empowered professional Namibian woman, who can give back to her country, as well as to society as a whole.
MN: As an influential woman, what will you do to ensure that other women at Namdeb succeed?
PT: It is not about what will I do, it is about what I do. I have a passion for people, which is cultured by my HR and communication discipline backgrounds. This is the epitome of my purpose in life, which is to ‘mine the diamond within people’, so that they can deliver to the best of their ability. I have a particular soft spot for young women, because I was in their shoes not so long ago, and had it not been for leading female personalities at Namdeb, who took me under their wing or who created opportunities, I would not have been able to tell my story today. This year, in particular, I have three young women, Charne, Meriam and Emaigne, who I am very proud of.
MN: What advice do you have for fellow women, in terms of becoming independent forces, to better Namibia?
PT: As women, we need to value the fact that we are different from our male counterparts, and therefore we bring something new and fresh to technical fields and leadership roles. We should not be afraid to challenge the status quo, and most importantly, we need to support each other, by standing up for that which contributes to empowerment and rebuking that which is not right. Those of us, who are mothers, should also instil these values in our children. In Namibia, we have the best leading example in our First Lady, Madame Monica Geingos, and I commend her for her efforts.
MN: What don’t people know about you?
PT: People don’t know that I write poetry
MN: What makes you tick?
PT: Any situation that gets my adrenaline going.
MN: Just what do you do for a little fun?
PT: Spending time with loved ones, engaging in activities such as travelling, sightseeing, and of course quality time where there is lots of laughter!
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015