At a time of delocalisation of top positions where the capabilities of young Batswana in leadership roles are in doubt, a Debswana offspring has been given an opportunity to further his advancing career.
The opportunity comes through an appointment to an executive position at a De Beers mine in Canada.
The month of April will see Edwin Elias working as a process and maintenance manager at a De Beers’ Victor Mine, in Canada for a period of two years.
“My time in Canada will consist of me learning how successful companies in a different environment and culture operate so I can bring what I have learnt back home. In that time, I will also pay attention to my professional development,” said Elias.
A metallurgist by profession, Edwin believes the future of metallurgy in Botswana is huge and has a lot of potential.
He describes his field as a growing discipline in Botswana and he thinks it’s about time people started to take mining seriously.
It is not often that an employee can make it to a senior position with only 7 months post graduate experience, but in Elias’ case it came as no surprise, or so his colleagues say.
“Edwin is a brilliant engineer and an insightful leader who, without doubt will make a positive mark at Victor Mine and make Debswana and Botswana proud. I am confident he will bring a great set of skills to take this organisation to another level upon completion of his stint in Canada,” said Balisi Bonyongo, General Manager at Jwaneng Mine.
Elias describes metallurgy as the next big thing in Botswana; he is quite confident that metallurgists will soon be in high demand. He gives examples of exploration companies that are settling in Botswana and predicts that more are to be attracted to the country.
“Batswana need to understand that we are a mining nation, our economy depends on it, and therefore we need to have local expertise in that field,” he said.
Elias’ road to leadership started when he was a project metallurgist, a position he held for only 7 months until he was named senior plant metallurgist.
In 2004, he was elevated to the position of Mineral Process Engineer before rising even further in the same year to the role of Assistant Plant Superintendent. In 2006, he was promoted to Plant Manager ÔÇô Recrush Plant, where among his achievements was a two year run without a lost time injury in the recrush plant as well as the best production results in the history of the recrush plant so far, said Debswana.
According to Ester Kanaimba- Senai, Group Public Relations and Corporate Affairs Manager, this outstanding record was a clear demonstration of Elias’ potential and it also led to his elevation to the executive role of Treatment Manager in August 2008, a position where he was reporting directly to the General Manager.
“In this role, Edwin served as a member of the Jwaneng Mine Tender Board Committee and the Housing Committee. His responsibilities also included leading the development of the risk and mitigation plans at Jwaneng Mine during the economic recession. At this time Elias temporarily held the position of acting General Manager,” said Kanaimba-Senai.
The struggles that Debswana underwent as a result of the global recession were proof enough for Elias that challenges involved in mining are as diverse as the industry itself. This is where he learned that he can overcome anything that is tossed at him, a virtue every leader has to have.
Overseeing a department of about 574 people is no easy task yet he manages to take it in his stride because he believes that a leader has to take ownership of his responsibilities.
He modestly points out that he can name almost all of his employees by name because of his ability to lead. Elias said that Debswana identified his talent under a programme called Talent Management Framework, in which the company identifies and categorises its brilliant minds into top talent as well as premium top talent categories.
The premium top talent has about 20 people in the whole of Debswana, out of which Elias was amongst.
The programme gives those people the chance to learn and lead as well as develop an individual development plan, where one’s capabilities are identified through a methodological process.
“After our restructuring process, I was identified as someone who was capable of operating at level 5, which is equivalent to a CEO position even after such a short time in my tenure,” said Elias.
A man who is obviously going places, Elias has also enrolled for an Executive MBA at the University of Toronto, which he says will not affect his work in any way.