Guess who keeps things going at MAN Bus & Coach? The ladies, that’s who. GAVIN MYERS spoke to the women at the company’s Olifantsfontein plant to celebrate what they do there.
Right next door to Gauteng’s Tembisa township sits a little industrial area called Clayville. Massive transport rigs congest the dusty streets as they move in and out, while the hustle and bustle goes on all around. As these types of areas do, Clayville has a toughness and an energy to it.
The MAN Bus & Coach Olifantsfontein plant is located here. It has nine eclectic ladies in its employ, with two other contractual workers doing finishing on the production line. Fulfilling a broad range of duties, many of the ladies started with the company years ago.
Marietjie Haasbroek, for example, began back in 1999 as a secretary. She then became marketing assistant to MAN Truck & Bus deputy CEO Ray Karshagen and is now in the role of business development coordinator. “Ray calls me his ‘shoe laces’,” she says, “I hold everything together in business development.”
As long as Haasbroek has been at the company so too have creditor clerks Kobie Scholtz and Ingrid Hutten, who have been there since 1997 and 1999 respectively. “Things have changed over that time, but not too much,” says Scholtz. “The work stays the same, but the orders and number of people working here have definitely grown.” And they’re both more versatile than the average creditor clerk too, Hutten even doing a stint in marketing.
Both these ladies report to accounts manager Carina Kleyn, who started with the company five years ago as an accountant. (She has an interesting background working for the film industry, but says she preferred the shorter hours of the corporate environment.) With six people reporting to her, Kleyn looks after many aspects of the business, also working closely with general manager of MAN Bus & Coach Ralph Faltinger. Kleyn has an accounting degree from RAU (now University of Johannesburg) and is currently doing the management development programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Science.
Another lady currently furthering her studies is cost accountant Tsego Mohajane, who studied financial information systems at Tshwane University of Technology and is currently on her second level CIMA charted management accounting course. Mohajane’s responsibility is to check internal accounts for all Bus & Coach branches, as well as costing, sales analysis and various audits. She started in 2007 as a finance trainee and within a year moved to logistics as a team leader data controller. In 2010 she was appointed as a cost accountant. “There’s always room to grow at MAN,” she says. “I’ve experienced it myself.”
Others who have been given the opportunity to grow within the company are cousins Portia (receptionist) and Petunia Gwiji (SHEQ officer). Petunia started in reception in 2004 and became interested in the SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment, Quality) role, helping the previous SHEQ officer. When the latter resigned in 2010, Petunia grabbed the opportunity to take over. “I went through a lot of training, especially in terms of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and audit training,” she says. “We generally don’t have major incidents; maybe there will be a finger cut or something. We introduced a green-cross board where we report all our incidents and the awareness it creates has helped decrease the incidents a lot since the beginning of the year,” she reports.
Portia took over from Petunia in reception, after starting with the company in 2005 as a cleaner. Even then, she had been involved in company’s daily goings-on, growing with the company, making sure she could help where she could.
Ayanda Fadane, the plant’s human resources manager, joined MAN Bus & Coach in 2008 and, as of July 1, was promoted to transformation manager. In this role she will deal with issues of equity compliance, skills development and diversity management. “This is a new position at MAN, and I’ll be taking the company to the next level,” she says.
The newest recruit to the MAN Bus & Coach family of ladies is projects manager Crone Venter, who started on April 1 and has 20 years’ experience in the motor industry as an industrial engineer. Venter has been brought into this specialist role to implement a productivity improvement project to improve the flow of parts from the warehouse to the production line. Amazingly, she happily travels from Brits to Olifantsfontein and back every day!
This is no doubt a sign of the company’s ability to keep its employees happy and enjoying their jobs. Much like the area they work in, these ladies have the tough attitude and vibrant energy that keeps things alive and happening.