33 years later, MBSA’s Mr E takes his hat off!

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33 years later, MBSA’s Mr E takes his hat off!

Integrity, foresight and trust will show you what and who a great leader is.
by Tracy Mashinge-Jeche
MBSA Leaders

MBSA Leaders during a Q & A session at the 2017 MBSA Annual Results event held in Pretoria, from left: Johann Evertse, Carsten Spohr, Nadia Trimmel, Jasper Hafkamp, Joerg Essig, Florian Siedler and Mayar Bhana

Being part of an exceptional organisation for 33 years is an accomplishment on its own, but what makes Johann Evertse, the outgoing Mercedes Benz South Africa (MBSA) Executive Director, Human Resources a rare gem, is the high esteem he holds for integrity and credibility as a leader. He joined MBSA on 1 September 1984 then, Car Distributor Assembly (CDA) in East London and will be leaving on 1 September 2017. Looking at our history, surely there is no greater milestone than witnessing an East London car plant bridging the gap implementing change and stability that would be celebrated for years.

“The era that l joined the company on 1 September 1984, I walked through a group of about 300 striking employees and I thought at that time, l might have made a mistake. I asked myself, did l make the right choice?,” said Outgoing MBSA Executive Director Human Resources, Evertse.

Evertse was and has been part of the significant transformation in labour relations at MBSA. This transformation process made the organisation move from conflict to international competitiveness. “From a period of conflict to where we are today, l walk at the production line now and just look at the stability and workers’ morale compared to when l joined during the period of 1984 to 1990 where there was open hostility. To have been part of that journey is something l will treasure forever”, smiled Evertse.

Besides stability, two of the most important aspects that they  managed to get out of the situation were a partnership and learning how to accept one another. If they were not able at that early stage to build a partnership with the trade union they would not have made it this far.

“So two parties must take the recognition for the way we are today. Labour, NUMSA together with us have achieved this and along the way we have overcome barriers on how we view each other”, explained Evertse.

Evertse has learnt a lot over the years from workers, union and leaders.”Firstly, leaders got to have integrity, if we don’t have integrity, we cannot expect our employees to have integrity. Secondly, statesmanship – we don’t have leadership with statesmanship and can look at a situation and say this is where we going. And the ultimate statesman was the great Nelson Mandela. He had stature, and that’s what our leadership has to have, ‘stature’, that they can intervene in any situation and say we will do this.Thirdly, measure of wisdom and that measure of wisdom increases over the years”, he added.

He’ll still be associated with the company  in a different role and stay as an adviser. Everest also aspires to doing further research and getting a doctorate in time and finally spending some time with family.

On his career highlights, Evertse said, “ Firstly ,that l have been part of the transformation to labour stability that to me is significant. The second part was that most recently, I was selected to be the chairperson leading negotiations. The third highlight is the opportunities that the organisation has given me and the highlight is that of each of the positions that l was given, it was the first time that a black person got those positions. I was the first production manager, l was the first manufacturing manager, first board member and those are the real highlights that am very proud of from being given those opportunities”.

After all these years, one can see how trust has and still is a building block for successful organisations. “Building trust has been a journey just like the transformation. With trust you have to lead by example, you got to be consistent in what you communicate. And the most important aspect is to learn from employees as well”, stated Evertse.

After 33 years, it’s no surprise that Evertse has gained patience, foresight and trust from the whole experience. Although an engineer by profession, he managed to be a leader in Human Resources because MBSA’s philosophy is that it’s never about a department’s role but a leadership one. Soft spoken, full of integrity and wisdom, this leader will be greatly missed.

MBSA Leaders

MBSA Leaders during a Q & A session at the 2017 MBSA Annual Results event held in Pretoria, from left: Johann Evertse, Carsten Spohr, Nadia Trimmel, Jasper Hafkamp, Joerg Essig, Florian Siedler and Mayar Bhana

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