Best Job – Street & World?
In my line of work, I am too familiar with disengaged and depressed souls roaming the workplace. The job is a big minus in their life. So when I do come across individuals and jobs that defy the ordinary, I must investigate further.
Let us look at the best job, on the streets of Jozi & the islands of the Great Barrier Reefs
Jozi, South Africa
Meet George. He changed cities in 2007, moving from the crowded slums of Lagos to the dangerous streets of Hillbrow. And watched his back. He opened for business without bothering about the formalities. No trading name, tax registration or permits. After three days of preparation, he found the “ideal” location on the sidewalk, a stone’s throw from the intersection. That meant thousands of passing feet each day.
He knew that lower income earners would rather fix their shoes than purchase a new pair. He provides a one stop shoe repair service; your feet literally stop at his shop. Customers love the personal attention and service. When the sun goes down, he stores the shoes in large refuse bags and hides them behind an indigenous tree. No worries about theft. George tells me that thieves don’t want old shoes. He is concerned about police harassment and xenophobia violence.
According to George, the solution lies in building relationships and creating opportunities for others. (Something that many HR managers still have to learn). He is planning to employ a South African apprentice and train him for six months. Thereafter, he will be given the opportunity to manage a new “branch” in a northern suburb. The smell of rich feet. With flexible working hours and a tax free salary, George has come close to finding his best job, unlike his customers going to work each day.
Start planning for June 2010: HR and the marketing team should check out the Cannes
Lions Advertising festival. According to their website, the festival is the “world’s only truly global meeting place of professionals in the communication industry who to keep ahead of the curve”. It is a recruitment manager’s dream – tycoons, jury members and delegates rubbing shoulders at the festival, while 22 000 pieces of creative advertising compete for grand prix, gold, silver and bronze awards.
The biggest winner this year was a recruitment campaign. The campaign, devised by a Brisbane agency, picked up three Grands Prix awards in the Cyber, Public Relations and Direct Marketing categories. To boost tourism and attract the best talent, Queensland tourism, Australia, ran the “best job in the world” campaign, from January – June 2009.
The multimedia campaign pulled in 34 000 applicants, for the position of island caretaker – live on Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef and share their experience (sand, surf, lazy days) online with a global audience. For the respectable amount of around R 800 000, for a six month contract. And you thought that position of a “caretaker”, would look bad on your CV?.
Changing the Guard
You can’t speak about South African history and business, without mentioning them. You couldn’t construct a decent investment portfolio without including them or one of their companies. Their reach was everywhere: public, mining, financial and industrial sectors. In 1987 they ruled the JSE, controlling 60% of the market capitalisation. I’m referring of course to Anglo American.
How times have changed – the patriarchal family culture being challenged by outsiders, profits tumbling by 70% in the first half of the year, core operations (De Beers and Anglo Platinum) in trouble and global headcount plummeting by over 15000 this year.
So when Xstrata came knocking with a “merger of equals”, it seemed a good idea. Maybe not. Anglo American has come out with strong statements about their cost cutting and brighter future prospects. Fable or fact, depends on whether you are believe the glass is half full. At the time of writing (August, 2009), the proposed merger has been rejected. I doubt that we have seen the end of this chapter, Xstrata are unlikely to walk away quietly. So would a merger work? I think that people matter more than the operations here. Success will depend on the different cultures, management structures and talent working together for a vastly changed organisation.
UPDATE: Xstrata is currently not planning to revive the failed merger with Anglo American.
(HR Future, October 2009)