“It always starts with a quick catch-up on the inbox. I will then have a tête-à-tête with my supervisor to discuss the duties. I get back to the tasks pending from the previous day, and those that require immediate attention.”
This is a day in the life of Sirkka Ndilimevava Ndakalako, a senior human resources officer for the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.
She is responsible for coordinating the work activities, facilitating the staffing, and ensuring the proper interpretation of the Public Service staff rules and compliance thereof.
Ndakalako describes herself as a self-driven team player with a passion for helping people. Overall, she has a positive outlook on life.
Hailing from Ongha village in the Ohangwena region, she joined the public service in August 2013 as a temporary teacher after obtaining her degree in human resources from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), then the Polytechnic of Namibia.
Ndakalako confessed that she was never passionate about teaching, but because of financial reasons and the fact that she wanted a job badly, she had no choice but to settle for whatever life tossed her way. She applied for the teaching post, scooped it, and the rest as they say is history.
“Honestly, teaching was never my thing. But I jumped into it, and eventually started enjoying the profession. The children also enjoyed my lessons,” she said, reminiscing that she performed so well that her subject passing rate was higher than any other at the school. Her hard work caught the attention of the authorities. She was thus rewarded.
“I was awarded the best-performing teacher certificate,” she said.
Her teaching career was, however, a detour.
Eventually, she had to return to her first love – HR. But her return was by and large unplanned.
When asked how she got into an HR career in the first place, Ndakalako cited that it was merely by chance. All she wanted was to become a white-collar professional.
“When I completed grade 12, I had no idea about which career to pursue, perhaps because career fairs were not really prioritised at our school. But I was inspired by professionals who work in offices. My dream was to do office work” she added.
Ndakalako joined the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism in 2015 as a Human Resources Officer. She was later promoted to Senior Human Resources Officer.
The reasons why she decided to join the public service is job security, and most importantly, to plough back into the government in appreciation for its funding.
“The benefit of working for the government, as I alluded to earlier, is job security, and the fact that government offers capacity-building mentorship, which is very expensive in the private sector,” she observed.
As an HR officer, Ndakalako is responsible for ensuring that the workforce is able to perform optimally, ensuring that sufficient people are recruited, retained, trained and supported to fulfill the ministry’s goals.
“As HR officers, apart from staffing, training employees, developing policies relating to them and developing strategies to retain them, we also do a broad range of tasks ranging from employee relations, career coaching, health and safety and headhunting. And all in all, to make sure to ensure that the organisation you work for can meet its objectives by having the right workforce in place” she stated.
When asked what staffing entails, Ndakalako said “it involves the entire hiring process from posting a job to negotiating a salary package. It involves the development of a staffing plan. This plan allows HR to see how many people they should hire, based on revenue expectations. Recruitment is a process that involves finding people to fill the open positions and selection, whereby people will be interviewed and selected, and a proper compensation package will be negotiated. This step is followed by training, retention and motivation”.
Every job comes with its fair share of challenges, and it is our abilities to rise above them that defines our level of tenacity. For Ndakalako, it is disciplinary hearings.
“There are tough days. Sometimes, I may have to conduct an investigation or support in a disciplinary meeting, and you do see some colleagues are in a bad place personally that you maybe wouldn’t realise day-to-day at work” she noted.
She also finds it challenging when it comes to employee retention, managing health relations, and embracing workforce diversity.
Despite challenges, she still finds it fulfilling to go to work every day and would not trade it for anything.
“It is knowing that you can make a difference. It is also a fast-paced environment, which means there is never a dull moment, and time flies when you are having ‘fun.
I enjoy meeting up with new people, networking and engagements with other stakeholders. My work is more proficient and requires teamwork ,and that is what I enjoy most” she continued.
To others who might want to venture into the HR space, Ndakalako had this to say; “If you enjoy working with people and want to make a difference, then go for it.”