Work and learn everyday

16 July 2021 | Mense
Desiree Gases





Gerwil B.N /Uirab is a project officer at the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, where his focus is on developmental projects such as the Namibian Logistics Hub Project. /Uirab was born in Windhoek and attended Delta Primary School and St Paul’s College. After his father got a job in East Africa, /Uirab moved to Wynberg Boys in Cape Town.

In /Uirab’s grade 11 year, he received a prestigious United World College (UWC) scholarship aimed to bring together future leaders from all over the world. After completing his International Baccalaureate Diploma at UWC Atlantic College, /Uirab was accepted at the renowned IE University in Spain, but due to funding constraints he attended the University of Pretoria to study towards a BCom Degree in supply chain management. He moved from the University of Pretoria to the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport to obtain his chartered logistician accreditation.

Being an avid Model United Nations debater at the University of Pretoria, /Uirab was selected as one of the top 20 students in South Africa who were invited to take part in the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s Experiential Learning Programme. “Here I was exposed to some of the most accomplished African and South African Diplomats” /Uirab says.

Upon /Uirab’s return to Namibia he started as an import intern at Transworld Cargo, a local freight forwarding company. Within three months he was moved to the quality management and controlling department to assist in overseeing all company transactions as well as helping the company gain and maintain all international standards, such as the ISO 9001 accreditation.

“The exposure to the industry on the ground has greatly helped me as I moved to a more strategic role with my current employer,” adds /Uirab.

/Uirab started at the Walvis Bay Corridor Group as an intern in the logistics hub department in 2019. Not long after his arrival the logistics hub department and the projects department were merged. With the new arrival of their new CEO, Mbahupu Tjivikua, and the trust of his line Manager, Gilbert Boois, /Uirab was made the Project officer. The role had not existed before /Uirab’s arrival, but his seniors had faith in his ability and had been impressed by his work ethic, and felt that /Uirab was the perfect candidate to perform this new task.

When asked about his role, /Uirab said: “In my role, I have had to wear many hats. This included speaking to stakeholders both in the public and private space to help Namibia achieve its dream, of becoming the preferred logistics destination in the Southern African Region. This has allowed me to engage with a wide range of individuals and institutions. On a daily basis, this could include engaging with investors looking to enter Namibia, assisting the future captains of industry (e.g. students needing help with their master’s thesis or looking for internships), speaking with developmental institutions (JICA from Japan and GIZ from Germany), policy developers (e.g. ministry of works and transport and the National Planning Commission), transportation operators (e.g. Transworld Cargo and A van der Walt) and state owned enterprises (e.g. Namport and TransNamib)”.

/Uirab has been quite fortunate in his professional career to have achieved a lot that he is proud of. These are a few highlights.

- Been selected to take part in port planning and construction training for a month in the People’s Republic of China.

- Being selected and graduating summa cum laude in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) Trade Facilitation for Namibia course, finishing second in class.

- Being selected for the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s Experiential Learning Programme for young diplomats.

- Last month he was selected for the International Road Federation’s Young Professional Programme.

As much as /Uirab achieved a lot in his career he also had some challenges. “The logistics industry is one that requires one to be rapid and fast thinking. A delay at the border can be the reason medication is not provided to a hospital in time or a multimillion-dollar loss for the cargo owner. This has taught me to build strong relationships with individuals on various different levels who will be able to assist solving a problem over the phone as opposed to going through various bureaucratic levels to solve them. A challenge I have had to overcome as a young professional is learning to have my opinion heard as I am more often than not the youngest person in the room. Learning to become concise yet stay respectful to the protocol of the day allows one to get your point across in the 1 minute you have the platform.”

When asked to give a message to aspiring youth /Uirab said, “Learn to network and see every engagement as an opportunity to learn. The industry is ever changing, so knowing what is happening in all parts of the supply chain will help you find quick and sustainable solutions to your problems”.

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