Gert may be a recent addition to the Lithon team, but already the effect of his creativity, innovative thinking and complex problem-solving skills are being felt by the business. An actuary with a strong financial and business acumen, Gert is energised by those around him and committed to positively impacting the lives of others in both his professional capacity as an Executive Director at Lithon and in his personal capacity – he’s a member of the board of his local church and enjoys mentoring young people in his community. We recently sat down with Gert to talk about his new role, his vision for Lithon and how he spends his time outside of office hours.
When and how did you join Lithon?
I officially joined the company on 1 October last year. As for the how, it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to make a difference in the world. And, after 13 years in the corporate world, I had one of those lightbulb moments where I realised that I was simply a cog in a machine building someone else’s dream and that it was time I started focusing on and building my own dreams. Around the same time – I put it down to divine intervention – I met Adriaan, whose vision of making a significant and positive impact in the lives of people dovetailed perfectly with my own and we were inspired to bridge the gap between the worlds of finance and engineering in order to make a difference not only in Namibia, but across the African continent.
What excites you most about the company?
Without doubt, the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Having started my career in the corporate world, I’m incredibly excited to have the opportunity to connect with communities and, through the work done at Lithon and via the Lithon Foundation, witness tangible change taking place.
What are some of the key aspects of your job?
Right now, there’s a strong focus on strategy within the business and, with my mandate for 2021 being to expand the holding company, my first priority is to identify and tap into new opportunities. Our corporate directive for 2021 is CREATE, an objective born from each member of our team asking, ‘How do we change the future?’ The answer we arrived at was, ‘By creating it.’ In line with this objective, we’ll be launching a new division within Lithon next year – watch this space for details! I’ll also be tackling the challenge of taking a pure engineering brand like Lithon and changing the way it’s perceived in the market so that it’s recognised as a consulting engineering firm.
Can you tell us about your experience before Lithon?
After graduating from the University of Pretoria with a degree in Financial and Actuarial Mathematics, I gained experience in the healthcare, employee benefits and life insurance and pensions sectors at some of Namibia’s most established financial services organisations. In 2015, I joined NMG Benefits (Namibia) where I moved from a technical role into a leadership role. This gave me the ability to translate the theory into action and confirmed that what I really wanted to do was drive positive change. From here, I moved to Liberty Africa Insurance where I continued to grow in a leadership role before moving to Lithon in 2020.
Who has been your greatest business inspiration?
For me, that title is shared by two giants of business. Steve Jobs for the way he thought about business and built his team – “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
And Richard Branson for his entrepreneurial spirit and his insights about the importance of keeping your employees happy – “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
How do you spend your time when you’re not at the office?
Family is incredibly important to me and I love nothing more than to start each day by enjoying breakfast with my wife and our three-year-old daughter. The weekends also include plenty of family time – we especially enjoy being out in nature and exploring our beautiful country. When we’re not away, a braai on a Saturday with a good sports match playing in the background does the trick. I also take my fitness very seriously and make sure I get a run in before heading to the office.
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