Integr8 believes in putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to empowering its employees. Case in point is engineer Gerard Swarts, who started with the company as a driver eight years’ ago.
His first opportunity to move up the ladder came along a year later, when the team was short on staff for a big client project. One of the senior technicians invited Swarts to help, he says, “I agreed. On the Monday morning we met at the site and he gave me a step by step manual on what needed to be done, from there I went on to do four stores alone with my sheet of paper and pen taking notes of all the necessary details I would need.”
Swarts took his chance and made the most of it – helping out on projects, working til 2am some nights, doing deliveries next morning. He was invited to complete an A+ course in December 2007, which he completed while working full time during the week, and weekends at Ster Kinekor after his classes were finished. That went on for five months before he resigned his second job, to focus more on his studies.
In 2009 he was asked to start learning how the workshop operates and began doing that in the afternoons after deliveries in the mornings.
“January 2010 I started in the workshop still fresh but wanted to learn, it was time to put theory to practical,” he says. “Yes I made mistakes, but you learn from them, I would help out with deliveries and do the workshop.
“2012 I started going to clients fixing small problems, setting up PCs, laptops, and printers, helping with projects etc.
“2013 I started being more out at clients, helping the guys on site, learning new things. Helped with projects again till 2am, back at work 8am.
“In 2014 I was asked if I would like to join the roaming pool. I agreed. It was a big change from what I was doing in the workshop. I started in the roaming pool in March 2014. Luckily for me I started as a driver so I knew where all the clients were and all the short cuts getting to them, haha. So I guess starting as a driver was a good start. Today I fill in when the engineers are off sick or on leave. Doing SLAs every day is different and that’s what I look forward to. I’m currently based at MTN Data Centre 8am – 12pm then either I go do a SLA or have something else to do. It’s always busy 1pm – 5pm. Every day I will learn something new,” he adds.
Integr8 CMO Tami Sussman says that Swarts’ path hasn’t been part of a formal programme, although the company does have one.
“We identified the huge potential in Gerard and his desire to grow and advance. We have done this with many of our employees where we have seen the potential for them to be more than they think they can be, encouraged them and developed them so that they grow and mature.”
For Swarts, this means whatever happens next will be whatever he wants it to, she says, “The world is his oyster! Where ever he wishes to be we will encourage him and assist and guide him.”