Victor Nghifindaka, who hails from the Ondobe-yeno village in the Ohangwena Region, has been appointed as a member of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) Digital Transformation Advisory Council (DTAC) for a period of three years.
Air Namibia, like many world-class airlines, is already using digitisation aligned to market demands. Most of the airline’s commercial activities and transactions have migrated to online platforms to ensure a sustainable flow of income from all parts of the world.
“When I attended Polytechnic in 2002, I actually enrolled for civil engineering because this has been my dream as a boy. I loved fixing things, playing with electronics and creative work such as drawing and DIY projects. However, during my first year my friend Phillip Ngeno told me about this information technology course which he thought would suit me more. Upon researching the course, I fell in love and as fate would have it the rest is history,” Nghifindaka says.
After he graduated at Polytechnic, his first job was at the Office of the Prime Minister. He recalls that former prime minister Nahas Angula nicknamed him “Mr Computer” as he would always go to his office to assist with technical issues.
Nghifindaka later moved on to the private sector, and coming from a relaxed government environment, he learnt about the urgency of getting things done and managing multiple deliverables in the private sector. After his stint in the private sector, he then joined MTC, an organisation he had always dreamt to work for.
“I learnt so much at MTC and grew as a person and in my career,” Nghifindaka says.
Thereafter, he joined the aviation industry at Air Namibia. “In between the transitions in my career I have continued with post-graduation education through the University of Namibia’s (Unam) Business School and the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business,” he adds.
Nghifindaka is the head of information technology (IT) at Air Namibia, responsible for IT strategy, planning and operations, which includes business applications, software development, infrastructure, security, innovation, and digital transformation with the daily execution of the entire technology ecosystem within the airline.
“There’s nothing that happens at the airline that doesn’t include technology, from online sales, to flight plans, electronic flight bag with an iPad in the cockpit and departure control systems at the airports,” he says.
His job is to ensure the core business operations are enabled through innovative and efficient modern technologies.
Nghifindaka spends a lot of his time understanding and reviewing operations, the environment dynamics and their marketplace.
“I focus on how we can create business value through technology, strategic planning of the business growth objectives, determining how we can use innovations to understand our customer behaviour, and embracing emerging new technologies,” he says.
Nghifindaka is currently in the fourth year of his five-year contract as head of IT. “I have to say that time runs very fast and this job has given me an opportunity to grow because it has presented continuous challenges which push me to learn every single day,” he says.
He adds that aviation is complex and he is still learning about the industry every day.
He shares that starting in this job was a turnaround for everything he thought he knew as he had to dig deep into his character to stand and fight for those who trusted him with this responsibility.
“I was discovering systems, aircraft communications and processes at a pace I could barely handle, but as the saying goes: during a tough situation you can either run from it or learn from it, I choose to learn from it,” he says proudly.
He says he has had the privilege of building an amazing team at the airline.
“This team is very helpful, because we have a lot of stakeholders to serve, domestically, regionally and internationally. My team has been a huge blessing in discharging my duties,” he said.
Nghifindaka believes that every single experience that one has in life is either to learn from it, or a pointer to put you on course of your destiny. “While some come with more thrills than others, it’s really difficult to highlight a single one,” he said.
Nghifindaka was responsible for developing the first website for the office of the prime minister, and also assisted in developing most of the ministry’s websites around 2005.
“At Air Namibia we have managed to massively improve the airline’s infrastructure, business systems, utilisation of aircraft data, modernisation of the cockpit, introduce cloud solutions, connectivity to all branches and airports in all countries we fly to,” he says.
Nghifindaka believes that his position has transformed from being just a guy who handles technology to a position that needs an understanding of both technology and the business to give the customer the best experience possible.
“There is a shift on how technology is received and embraced at the Air Namibia. My biggest success remains to lead the team down the runway, then get out of the way, as the pride and spirit of Namibia’s carrier takes off to greater altitudes, with a modern and efficient technology platform to create the maximum thrust for the journey ahead,” he says.
“I will continue to develop myself to learn new skills which will be relevant for the Fourth Industrial Revolution era and just ultimately continue to let God stir the ship,” he concludes.