Being professional, assertive, striving for high levels of excellence as well as upholding ethical standards are qualities that one has to possess to become the Head of Legal Services and Company Secretary, advises NamPost’s Eldorette Harmse.
Harmse, who has been in the legal field for the past 17 years notes that there is a high expectation attached to this position in any company, therefore one is expected to have a vast understanding of commercial legal issues and be able to advice from a legal risk perspective on pertinent issues impacting the business; “this presupposes that you keep abreast of developments in particular fields impacting your areas of operation in order to be responsive to the needs of the company.”
Harmse, who holds a B. Proc LLB since 1998, was admitted as a legal practitioner in 2003 and is also an Accredited Mediator of the High Court.
Prior to her employment to NamPost, Harmse occupied various legal positions including the Office of the Prosecutor General as a Public Prosecutor.
“I started out as a Prosecutor in Walvis Bay and in the course of 1999 was transferred to the High Court in Windhoek where I held the post of Chief Legal Officer until I resigned in 2003. Key day to day duties entailed prosecuting offences in the High Court, arguing appeal matters in the High and Supreme Courts and writing legal opinions.”
She then took up the position of Deputy Director: Transportation Legislation within the Ministry of Works and Transport which she held until in 2005; “This position spanned across all modes of transport and one of my primary functions was to review transport legislation and to provide advice on legislation impacting the functions of the Department of Transport. During this period, I developed a keen interest in the aviation sector and to that end I am currently the Chairperson of the Transportation Commission of Namibia and whilst the Commission is vested with functions spanning across modes, we primarily deal with aviation matters,” she notes.
Thereafter, she took up in her current job at NamPost in 2005 as the Head of Legal Services and Company Secretary and an Executive Committee Member.
“Key performance areas include legal advice and legal services, reviewing and drafting of agreements, company secretarial functions, compliance oversight, implementation of corporate governance principles throughout the company and ensuring that the company complies with the applicable laws and regulations,” she explained.
She notes that her prior work experience has helped her develop skills that has shaped and equipped her for her current position.
“The corporate legal environment, especially at NamPost requires substantial adherence to legislative and regulatory compliance and thus my past experiences assisted me to navigate these aspects. NamPost itself has contributed to further shape my understanding of the legal environment and has exposed me to commercial business practices.”
As in any high demanding position such as hers, it is always accompanied by challenges, especially in the context of NamPost that encroach on various industries (being financial services, courier and postal) and presupposes a level of responsiveness to meet the ever changing business needs.
In order to respond to those challenges, she keeps abreast of relevant legal developments by, “reading relevant Law Journals, cases, articles, attending seminars and more. I believe being an in-house legal advisor having an avid interest in the business operations adds significant value to providing quality legal services to the various departments you serve.”
NamPost is the national Postal Operator in Namibia providing service solutions through its postal, banking, courier philately, agency and money transfer services. Started as a government department before Independence and a commercialized entity after 1992, NamPost has served the people of Namibia for 119 years. It has since extended its reach throughout the country and today provides a comprehensive service to customers from more than 130 post offices countrywide.
On the legislative point of view, she explains that NamPost is a creature of statute, established by virtue of the Post and Telecommunications Establishment Act, Act 17 of 1992. Its functions are set out in the Post & Telecommunications Act, Act 19 of 1992. NamPost is 100% owned by the Government via Namibia Post & Telecom Holdings (PTY) Ltd and as such is also impacted by the State Owned-Entreprises Governance Act, Act 2 of 2006. NamPost is also a public company, incorporated under the Companies Act, Act 28 of 2004.
Harmse informed me that she is excited to be part of NamPost which is a growing business, ever evolving to better serve the needs of its customers as this in itself offers her unique growth opportunities.
Following all her years in the legal world, Harmse noted that she has learned, as read elsewhere years ago, that that very few things in life are black or white and although some shades of gray are maybe darker than others, they are still gray.