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Mentorship - moving millennials in Africa forward

By 2020, millennials will make up 50% of the global workforce and 75% by 2030.

Currently, businesses are competing fiercely to attract and retain the best available talent from this pool to replace the retiring boomer generation.

However, according PWC’s ‘Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace’ report, “The particular characteristics of millennials, such as their ambition and desire to keep learning and move quickly upwards through an organisation, as well as their willingness to move on quickly if their expectations are not being met, requires a focused response from employers.”

To address this, GVK-Siya Zama, specialists in large-scale construction and refurbishment, have embraced mentorships.

“One of the things that I am most passionate about is giving youth the opportunity to grow and to achieve. Mentorships facilitate the transfer of experiential knowledge accumulated at the coalface by veteran employees to younger staff members – equipping them with invaluable skills that are unobtainable from any tertiary institution. As a result, they are able to learn and progress faster, take on more responsibility, gain exposure to different aspects of the business and, in turn, become more valuable to the company,” says Eben Meyburgh, GVK-Siya Zama Group Chief Executive Officer.

GVK-Siya Zama employee, Jabu Serithi, is a testament to the effectiveness of the company’s mentorship approach.

Due to being mentored by Meyburgh and Group MD Dumisani Madi, she progressed from Quantity Surveyor to become the Group’s first female director.

“On your own you can only do so much, but with guidance you can reach far greater heights. Mentorship is about providing an extra set of eyes to help you pick up on weaknesses and strengths that you may not necessarily be aware of. In addition, mentors can assist in identifying potential opportunities for growth. Mentorship involves the passing down of lessons learnt through making mistakes, without you having to go through the pain yourself,” says Serithi.

Serithi is herself a mentor to others in the organisation. She says: “For me it is a moral obligation. To paraphrase actor Kevin Spacey, it’s no use getting to the top floor and not bothering to send the lift down for others to get on. It’s not fun being on the top floor all on your own. When you witness junior employees growing, it is like seeing a flower blooming. Mentorship is a very rewarding and humbling experience.”

She acknowledges that mentorship is time consuming, but says its reward lies in having an inspired mentee who is prepared to go out and apply their best self to attain greater successes. This can only benefit both the mentor and mentee, and ultimately, the company.

“To succeed, businesses need to constantly adapt. The future of our company and our sustainability are being moulded by appealing and catering to a modern workforce, engaging millennials as well as by developing and retaining top, young talent. With this in mind, our aim is to be the employer of choice in the construction industry,” concludes Meyburgh.

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