Celebrating 25 years with Gondwana – Good Governance: To be or not to be…
Engaging conversation (ltr): Gys Joubert (Gondwana’s Managing Director), Ndinelao Shikemeni (Media Coordinator) and Manni Goldbeck (Brand & Marketing Director). Photos: Gondwana Collection
Manni Goldbeck discusses Gondwana’s ten most important achievements
During the Gondwana Collection Namibia’s 25th anniversary year we celebrate the rich history of the company. We recall the inspiring, interesting, humorous and heart-warming stories that have shaped the company. While we are sharing these fascinating stories, Gondwana’s CEO Gys Joubert and Media Coordinator Ndinelao Shikemeni sit down with founder Manni Goldbeck to take a walk down memory lane and find out what he sees as the company’s ten most important achievements.
Manni begins the conversation today discussing Good Governance:
“Right from the start, and especially under the chairmanship of lawyer Chris Gouws who was the chairman for twenty years, we wanted to create a company where the compliance or structure of the company would be solid and of a kind that would thrive long into the future, beyond our lifetimes.
“To this effect we ensured that we complied with all the necessary regulations. For a company to exist long-term we knew that we had to be well-structured and compliant with whatever was expected from the authorities. And this we did joyfully. For example, the affirmative action plan, which was an opportunity to be part of building a new and better Namibia, became a guideline and working document which we embraced wholeheartedly.
“With Gys – and our chairman Steve Galloway – at the helm, we adopted an even more comprehensive type of leadership.”
“Can you elaborate on Good Governance, Gys?”
“Certainly. I am extremely proud and grateful for the governance framework and impact of Gondwana. Under the chairmanship of Steve Galloway, we have embraced the King IV principles of ethical leadership, the organisation in society, corporate citizenship, sustainable development, stakeholder inclusivity, integrated thinking and integrated reporting. We live these principles. To us it is not about ticking boxes, it is about the impact we have. We also do not believe in control and command. Our Windhoek office is about support and never about an ivory tower telling our people around the country what to do and how to think. We are here to serve, not to be served. We trust and empower our team.”
“Would you like to continue, Manni?”
“Yes, Nela. Good governance also, and importantly, includes foresight.”
“Can you tell us what you mean by foresight?”
“On a regular basis we did what we called in-depth SWOT analyses. This means that you continually analyse your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to ensure that you are as strong and secure as you can possibly be as a business.
“We used our knowledge and experience gleaned over twenty-five years of being successful in the hospitality industry. We ensured that we were covered for every eventuality should any harm come to any of our guests. And then we looked at events that had affected tourism over the years and ascertained how best we could avoid an impact if anything catastrophic should ever occur.
“These included events that rocked the world, especially the tourism sector, like the 9-11 attack on the twin towers in 2001, the outbreak of the SARS virus in 2003, Hurricane Katrina and the London attacks in 2005, in 2008 and 2009 the H1N1 influenza outbreak – which was a double whammy because of the recession that impacted tourism worldwide – and then the Iceland volcanic ash cloud in 2010, which brought tourism from Europe to a standstill for two months. And then in 2014 we had the Ebola virus . . .
“We realised that every few years, some cataclysmic event impacts tourism, and could potentially endanger our company. So, we investigated insurance companies that could cover Gondwana if such large-scale events occurred to safeguard the company and the jobs of our 1100 employees. Insurance companies were happy to have the lucrative Gondwana account. We found an insurance company that would cover the company for Business Interruption – BI – and which was encouraging businesses to take out this cover. We made sure that this included both infectious disease and the business interruption caused by an act of authority, and felt secure in the knowledge that we had covered each and every base.
“It didn’t take long for the next global event to rock the world, this time Covid-19, which disrupted business worldwide, and especially tourism, on a vast scale. Unfortunately, in the wake of the havoc caused by the virus, our insurance company is now stalling on honouring its Business Interruption cover that we had so neatly and carefully put in place, and we have to turn to the high court to determine if we have a case. We are now at the point, exactly a year after Covid-19 initially affected Namibia, where we have to fight for our right to be, and our right to BI – Business Interruption – and hence the title for today’s interview: ‘To be or not to be’.
“What an important time in the company’s long history, and after a year that has put everything on its head.”
“Yes. Gondwana has ensured that there has not been a single retrenchment on our team and, although we had to reduce salaries, that every one of our team members still receives a monthly salary. We have also ensured that the communities and conservancies, with whom we operate, still receive the basic agreed income. Team training has continued and continues on a regular basis, and as we have kept our renovations up to date in recent years our lodges are in top condition, which will be important when tourism picks up again. We continue functioning to our best ability, upholding the Gondwana quality and keeping the Gondwana spirit intact and alive.
“Is there anything you would like to add here, Manni or Gys, to conclude this interview series on Gondwana’s achievements over the last 25 years?”
“We are positive for the future. As always, we are grateful for the support of our loyal Gondwana friends, and we look forward to welcoming our international guests once again to our beautiful country, Namibia.
Ndinelao closes off:
“Thank you, Manni and Gys, for your time and input. It has been an enlightening experience. And thank you to all for sharing this space with us. Take care and keep well.”