Jen Mieze moves to skills provision

By By Francis Mukuzunga
May 2010
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MANY people often find themselves in quandary when they decide to move from a well established organization and start their own small firms. It only takes someone with guts to brush aside the fear of the unknown and plunge into a new environment.

This is what happened to Jennifer Alma Mieze, an organisational development specialist, based in Windhoek. She has set up her own company, Kairos Training and Development Consult cc that she runs on a fulltime basis. After having worked for almost 10 years as the Organisational Development Specialist at the Bank of Namibia’s human resources department, as well as being a part-time lecturer at the Polytechnic of Namibia, Jennifer decided to take a “leap of faith” as she refers to her move.

Jennifer is a trainer, facilitator, professional speaker and life coach.

She says her organisation is founded on the premise that people are central to both an organization’s ability to produce products and services, and a country’s ability to improve productivity and economic growth. Her clientele ranges from small organisations to large corporations and, at times, individuals who need motivational skills to perform better.

“At Kairos, we believe that Namibian businesses need to perform competitively in a global environment rather than just focussing on their internal needs. This is when we come in as consultants as we give training and advice on how employees should change their mindset in gearing their organisations to offer quality and internationally accepted service,”

Jennifer adds that the company is guided by the philosophy of “Global Alignment for Competitive Advantage” and believes that every organisation that wishes to succeed should live by this principle.

She is a qualified social worker and holds a Masters degree in Economic and Social Development specializing in Social Policy and Social Development from the University of Manchester in the UK. She also has a BA in Social Science from the University of Namibia along with her vast experience in capacity building with various organizations, including NGOs, human resources management and organizational training and development related issues.

Courses offered at Kairos include professional skills development, leadership, management, human resources management, change management, capacity development, performance management, employee wellness, policy framework development and strategic management.

“Our Vision is: Aligning people and organizations to the intent and strategic purpose and in turn empower and enable them to deal with global demands.”

“Kairos Training and Development Consult’s mission is to offer and implement structured and quality assured approaches to issues that compromise human development capacity that will support change management and organizational capacity and strategic development solutions. This is done through a variety of current models to find a truly unique African organizational solution whilst making the organizations globally relevant,”

In terms of training, Kairos offers courses that are geared towards human capacity building, talent management, customer service, personal grooming and other related skills that help people to offer their full potential at the workplace.

“Training and skills development are therefore essential, especially in a country like Namibia where human resources are underdeveloped with a prevailing skills gap. It is in this milieu that we need people to make complex decisions in our personal and work-life. To do this they need a variety of complex skills because they have to continuously use changing information to solve a non-stop mix of well and ill-defined problems,” she adds.

As professional speaker, Jennifer is often invited to give motivational speeches at events. Her subject matters are on a number of issues, including the family, youth, workplace relations, work-life balance and others as they affect the functionality of an organization. Apart from this, she often finds herself also offering free service as her own social responsibility programme.

Jennifer also is an experienced life-coach which means that she is involved in supporting and encouraging people to help them fulfill their potential and make the most of their lives. Jennifer sees herself in the line of a new breed of people with a mandate to think and manipulate issues in organizations.

“There are a number of problems that affect the performance culture at the workplace. These include personality differences, family background, alcohol and drug abuse, HIV/Aids as it affects the employees to maintain their work-life balance. Especially with HIV/Aids, many employers have to deal with absenteeism as their employees are either sick or have to attend to their affected relatives and even funerals,” she adds.

In this respect, Kairos engages employers and employees in finding the best solutions in tackling their personal commitments.

Jennifer is aware that the process of building a corporate culture in Namibia requires openness and commitment from both the employer and the employee. It borrows heavily from the concept of organizational culture that many businesses seem to ignore.

Organizations can be complex structures. How an organisation is perceived from outside and how it has evolved in relation to its current form is determined by the employee/employer relations and how the systems interact with each other, argues Jennifer.

Edgar Schein, one of the most prominent theorists of organizational culture, says the culture of a group or organisation evolves over a period of time. However, during process the organization faces two basic challenges: integrating individuals into an effective whole, and adapting effectively to the external environment in order to survive. As groups find solutions to these problems over time, they engage in a kind of collective learning that creates the set of shared assumptions and beliefs generally referred to as “culture.”

Jennifer is, however, wary of the fact that some companies hire consultants from other countries to guide them on some pertinent employee related issues when there are local experts who can do the same.

“It’s about time we as Namibians put our trust and confidence in our own people. It is still surprising that more than 20 years after independence, some companies still rely on expatriates on jobs that can be carried out by local expertise.“

She reminded those organizations that if they engaged local support, they were likely to get more continuous back-up from those people as they offered technical know-how from a Namibian point of view. It is in this regard that she describes the “proudly Namibian” concept as a shining beacon that must be inculcated into the hearts and minds of all.

“I aim to empower my clients to take control of their situation in areas such as relationships, careers, stress management hence bring work-life balance,” she says.

A normal day for her involves taking care of her two teenage children, as well as running the consultancy, that she currently operates from her Hochland Park dwelling. Most of the time is spent either writing proposals to different organizations or doing the actual training. Every day is a new experience for her as the issues that are encountered vary from place to place.

Jennifer is adamant that five years from now Kairos Training and Development Consult will become one of Namibia’s foremost workplace training and development consultants. She believes business is good and Namibia offers a good chance for growth, especially for small companies such as Kaisos.PF