Celebrating 25 years with Gondwana – Building a better Namibia
Engaging conversations (ltr): Gys Joubert (Gondwana’s Managing Director), Ndinelao Shikemeni (Media Coordinator) and Manni Goldbeck (Brand & Marketing Director). Photo: 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.
Gys begins the discussion:
“Thank you for sitting down with us today, Manni. Twenty-five years is almost half of your lifetime. Did you ever think that Gondwana would become what it is today, one of the leading hospitality companies in Namibia?”
Manni replies (with a smile):
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think so, Gys. We started with a conservation ethos in mind and the first lodges were built to fund the conservation area. Although we would become trailblazers and pioneers in Namibian tourism in years to come, at the time we were just putting one foot in front of the other, but we took each step with care and with, what has become a buzz word today, mindfulness. Right from our humble beginnings in 1996, our ethics were sound and respect for nature and people was paramount. I can say that our heart was in the right place – and still is. This is probably why we built such strong foundations.”
“The company has had so many success stories, Manni, and you have been instrumental in many of them as a founder. If you had to choose ten, which would you consider Gondwana’s most important achievements to date?”
“Yes, there are many achievements that I am very proud of, Gys. From the start the aim was to be a purpose-led company, which we have achieved. One of those purposes was helping to build a New Namibia.
“We established Gondwana six years after independence and have always been a proudly Namibian (born-free) company. The spirit of the nation after independence was tremendous and we were happy to be part of it, to grow a strong and unified New Namibia. The aim was to create a company to share with as many Namibians as possible.
“We were always ‘on-purpose’ and like the strong three-legged potjie we so enjoy in Africa, we established a solid tripod base. We realised that the company would need to stand on three sturdy legs: financial – this wasn’t always easy (he laughs), environmental and social – and to find the balance between those three. It is the social leg that I am so proud of today. We are a diverse team and our team complement represents every ethnic group in the country. We are also proud of our gender equality and presently employ 51% women. There are 1100 employees, who are all shareholders, thanks to your initiative, Gys, of course with the support of the board and the shareholders.”
Yes, 1100 is a large workforce and it is a huge achievement to create so many jobs in a country where the unemployment is so high.
A question from Ndinelao:
“What is the next achievement that comes to mind, Manni?
“There has always been training at the lodges right from the start of the company, but it was only formalised into the Gondwana Leadership Academy six years ago. The academy teaches skills and empowers people to achieve their full potential.
“Can you elaborate, Manni?”
“Certainly, Nela. The Gondwana Leadership Academy has had an enormous impact on the employees who haven’t been able to receive formal tertiary or secondary education. All team members have the opportunity to further themselves and to move into management positions if they would like to, although the aim of the academy is for each person to become their natural best in their position, a leader in their own right, and in that way to contribute to building a better Namibia. It has brought a lot of dignity to many people. At the academy we don’t only impart hospitality training, we take a good look at ourselves as people and Namibians, and delve into our value systems and explore the qualities that are important for us to carry with us in our lives. Besides focusing on growing the company and offering Gondwana’s exceptional service, we look deeper as to how we can be the best people we can be. The sixteen values that are part of the Gondwana DNA include: if you make others successful then you will be successful, diversity makes you stronger, honouring people, honouring nature, integrity and empathy. It is hugely empowering and I am honoured to be able to be a part of it.”
Ndinelao ends off the discussion for the day:
“Thank you for your time, Manni and Gys. I look forward to continuing sharing the ten most important achievements with all our Gondwana friends on Sunday. Until then, take care and keep well.”