#06 2021

Tributes from the central hub of activity: SAEON’s National Office

By Theo Jongwana, Leazill Peenze and Eva Mudau

When you think back to the year 2000, you may find yourself wondering what happened in that millennium year, what was going on in the world? In 2000, or Y2K as it was more commonly known, you still used a floppy disc to back up your data.

In 2002, Johan Pauw, the brain behind the development of SAEON, was appointed Managing Director.

As so often happens in life, not everything stands the test of time. But for two decades now, Johan has been steering the organisation through buoyant and difficult times alike. Throughout his illustrious career Johan has overseen and driven world-class excellence; transforming SAEON to where it is today, raising the profile of SAEON and promoting environmental science. He did this with integrity and accountability, earning respect all round. Many will remember the sound advice given by him.

Paying tribute to a longstanding SAEON MD is a major task, but an honour none the less. Where do you begin and what do you include? In a career like that of Johan it is impossible to cover everything that he has achieved through the years.

During his time as SAEON MD he realised the need for all managers to give input into the organisation. He brought about the changes required for the management to have monthly meetings. These regular interactions have brought unity among the management staff.

As many of you will know, Johan is not the shy type, and this has meant that his voice has been heard loudly both nationally and internationally. His collaboration with various local and international organisations has given Johan a vast knowledge base and the ability to analyse and dissect often complex data and figures.

More recently, Johan has been guiding the organisation through the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring there was a steady hand steering the ship. We thank him for his continuing care for SAEON staff during these turbulent times.

~ Dr Theo Jongwana, SAEON Governance and Operations Manager

Working with Johan during the past 11 years has been exciting. Not only does he keep you on your toes by expecting you to know the intricacies of your trade, but he also makes you think and elevates your performance.

I will mainly remember Johan for two things. The first is that he is a coffee connoisseur and has a ritual for preparing a delicious cup of coffee. He really enjoys a good cup of coffee. But what is so memorable about this is that he can sense when someone else is in desperate need of just such a cup. Johan has shared his coffee with me many times at exactly the right moment!

The second is a life lesson Johan taught me that I treasure – and that is not to judge other people by my own values. I have often applied this wisdom in my personal and professional life, with great success. Being in Human Resources we frequently need to evaluate/judge/compare people’s competencies, skills, capabilities, etc., so this was a difficult one to get my head around at first, but one needs to take a step back from a situation, look at what is required and then apply judgement linked to what is needed.

May we never forget these and many other lessons Johan taught us while we enjoy a special cup of coffee.

~ Leazill Peenze, Human Resources Practitioner, SAEON

I started working at SAEON on 1 July 2003. I always remember that I knew very little about SAEON when I applied for the position.

At the time I was working as an Administrative Assistant at the Central Grants Administration programme within the NRF, reporting to a very sweet and humble manager, Gerhard Moolman. But like any person, I was looking forward to growing my career.

The day I saw the advertisement happened to be the closing date, but I still decided to apply. I received a phone call from Human Resources informing me that I was scheduled for an assessment just two days after I applied for the post.

After completing an assessment test, Mr Pauw walked into my office and called me for an interview conducted by a panel of five people. As I was not aware that I would be interviewed that day, I did not prepare or even dress up for it.

Just before 16:00 that afternoon I was called to Mr Pauw’s office, where he confirmed that I was the successful candidate. That was the beginning of my SAEON journey, which now stretches across a good 18 years.

~ Eva Mudau, Office Coordinator, SAEON National Office