I am a proud Panamanian. We are happy people that generally like to have a good time. We usually tend to disconnect from our reality by partying over the weekend. We are in essence, positive by nature. Recently, Panama qualified for their first FIFA World Cup. Our performance during this tournament was more than disappointing, but we were the happiest fans in Russia! Other countries lost in the semi-finals and it was considered a national tragedy. This Panamanian way will definitely make our lives more enjoyable but won’t create radical changes needed to take us out of a third world mindset and stop the corruption cycle that has been the trademark of our governments going back decades.
I have had the pleasure of working with colleagues from all over the world and specially remember one European ex-boss who always complained about customer service in Panama. I have to agree that our customer service is not ideal. He even had a “black list” that he always kept updated of restaurants that he would never visit again. We joked with him because every Monday he told us the story of the new members on this list. Once I asked him if he had ever visited a restaurant that he liked? And he said yes and mentioned the name of the place. This restaurant would never have made my top list, so I asked him why. He told me it was because it worked well all the time. This restaurant had been working nonstop for more than 70 years! A true example of sustainability. It took an outsider to point this out to me.
This is Africa
I moved to South Africa 2 years ago to work in vessel operations with low expectations about the challenges that I was going to encounter, as globally, when something does not work in Africa, it is very common to hear the term T.I.A. (This is Africa). When I arrived, I was amazed to find totally the opposite. T.I.A. suddenly became “Do better!”. The reason for this, is that I was blessed to come during the time that leadership was forward thinking enough to see the enormous potential of growth that Africa possess.
It is a land of opportunities that are available to those that have the drive to implement global standards in service delivery. Belief beyond what is apparently impossible. I am honoured to work on a daily basis surrounded by people who believe in how great we can become. People that believe that every container we load on our vessel matters. People who strive for excellence in their every day job.
Last line of Defence
Being a team leader in operational execution for 37 ports in Africa, has been the most challenging job I have ever had. All the decisions we take have an immediate impact. A colleague once told me that the job feels like “being a goalkeeper in the World Cup final on a daily basis”. I reflected about that comment for a long time and thought; that is a bloody big responsibility to be constantly exposed to. It doesn’t seem like the dream job until we realize that we have the opportunity to save the day every day. I cannot think of any job that gives you that opportunity. Nothing brings me more of a sense of accomplishment than looking at one of our blue vessels sail out of Cape Town Terminal just in time before the storm comes. It just feels right!
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (Good Bless Africa)