To successfully navigate the business landscape of the future, companies need to continuously adopt new strategies to ensure they are ‘future-fit’: enabling resilience, agility, sustainability and longevity.
These strategies include changes in work processes, the implementation of new workplace tools, improvement in communications and the empowerment of employees – both personally and professionally – to create and pursue new business and innovation opportunities.
Rand-Air – an established leader in the field of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps) and lighting solutions, and part of the global Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division – has always invested in people development. This year has been no different, with the company investing in Atlas Copco’s corporate training and mentorship programme for female employees – ‘Future-Fit Females’.
For the ‘Future-Fit Females’ course participants, assistant accountant Nokubonga Dlamini and seasoned sales representative at the Rand-Air Mpumalanga branch, Chantal Bekker, the ‘future-fit female’ embodies “a balanced, well-skilled individual, who is self-actualised and able to face any challenge with strength and confidence.”
Bekker and Dlamini are among 12 women from Rand-Air and parent company Atlas Copco who are participating in this year’s programme; which is being hosted in collaboration with niche training development and coaching consultancy Key Steps.
Having worked for Atlas Copco since 2012 and knowledgeable in its various divisions and solutions, Dlamini’s motivation for participating in the programme stems from a need for growth, self-improvement and enhanced proficiency in communication and interaction techniques.
“I believe that ‘Future-Fit Females’ will provide enrichment in these skills and techniques, boost the existing rapport between Rand-Air and Atlas Copco and assist in improving self-expression and self-development,” she explains.
Meanwhile, an open-mindedness to self-development turned interest into action for Bekker: “I believe one has to make changes to grow as an individual and ultimately reach one’s desired goals.
Therefore, I am willing to change by learning and growing – personally and professionally. I consider that any training which provides this – allowing for growth and development – can teach me something of value.”
Conducted over nine months, (February until September), the ‘Future-Fit Female’ programme provides monthly training sessions which cover various themes to improve personal and professional life skills. These sessions, presented by Key Steps CEO Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, include one-on-one coaching sessions, professional business writing, constructive communication and conflict management; as well as a focus on emotional intelligence and personality, collaboration, and relationship-building, among others.
“These theme-specific sessions enable us to ‘shape up’ and become ‘fit’ for our daily interactions with customers, colleagues – and ourselves,” Bekker says, adding that for her, as a sales representative it remains vital to perform professionally by using effective communication and practising positive habits such as courtesy.
“By achieving proficiency in areas such as business communication or emotional intelligence, I become empowered: not only with self-confidence, but by my resulting ability to exert an influence in driving new business strategies and achieving not only my own goals, but those of the company, too.
“It is therefore key that as the course progresses, we reflect on the content and our participation, practice what we have learnt and evaluate how these skills can be applied in any personal and professional situation,” Bekker points out.
While benefitting from the skills acquired during this programme and committing to continuous communication, engagement and participation, Dlamini underscores the responsibility of contributing these skills to the rest Rand-Air team:
“These experiences of professional and personal enrichment, as well as the knowledge and skills we have acquired will be shared with our colleagues throughout the company, to facilitate their growth and development and that of the organisation as a whole.”
Going for the Gold – ‘in agility’
Notably, the ‘Future-Fit Female’ programme plays a key role in aligning Rand-Air employees’ goals with the company’s corporate ethos of making agility count in all aspects of the business.
While Bekker credits emotional intelligence and business writing skills as some of the tools in establishing and sustaining exceptional customer interactions, Dlamini believes a greater understanding and appreciation of customers and colleagues augments performance:
“Each person – whether a customer, supplier or colleague – is important. By personalising and adding value to each interaction, we can make agility count in a very real, practical way,” Dlamini says.
Rooted in the belief that one can never lose out from taking a chance, Dlamini encourages women “to raise their hands when opportunities in career development and self-enrichment are presented.”
“We are blessed to have been given this opportunity. We would therefore like to thank Rand-Air’s management for this privilege. We also appreciate their support in ensuring that we have all the resources, as well as the time to participate,” Dlamini says.
Bekker agrees, concluding that: “This programme is one of the best currently available, teaching us how we can enable resilience, sustainability and longevity – to make agility count for ourselves and our customers, in a ‘future-fit’ way!”