My rookie assignment was to complete a Merger and Acquisition assignment for GE Medical Systems in South Africa and then to hire and and handover to a local South African employee.
t was 1996 in South Africa. I was an independent trainer and HR consultant, and I’d completed a small ad hoc project for the local GE Medical office. They saw some potential in me and asked if I wanted to take the HR role in the M&A and ultimately find a local replacement in 8-12 months. I had no experience or qualifications for such a project.
But there were some things that I could see as a rookie that others couldn’t see: That the company they were acquiring had a lot more local knowledge than the larger GE team. With that I needed to learn a lot about South African labor law quickly and liaise very closely with the commercial and legal M&A teams. I understood that most of my role was about learning, disseminating information, and communication.
The leader of GE Medical at the time was amazing, Leon Chabannes, ex French military. He had a saying, “One Team, fast, focused and committed to win.” He stretched me to achieve what I thought was impossible. He didn’t expect me to know; he expected me to learn how to solve the challenges as they arose.
I made many mistakes along the way, but my main mistake was that I waited too long to start looking for my replacement, so was under a lot of pressure to handover once I found the amazing Moledi Dineo.
the highlight of my rookie journey was finding Moledi and watching her blossom, not only whilst I was training her, but for a significant number of years afterwards in GE and in the HR field. I was a rookie who found another rookie, and together we made it work.
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