Not all things small are insignificant. For Christofine Namases, her little baby was the drive she needed to go after her dreams and change her life seven years ago.
Christofine, who is lovingly known as Christo is a Student Support Officer, Project Manager, and mother of three boys. As we got to know her, we discovered that she is originally from Okumbahe but has spent some of her favourite years in Walvis Bay. Her time there was enriched by the sea, she says “the ocean is what makes it feel like home”. When she and her partner were about to have their first child, they decided to relocate to Windhoek in search of better job opportunities. After a few months of living in the capital, Namibia Business School advertised a vacancy for the role of a receptionist. She was confident to apply for the job because of the few years of Human Resource Management studies she completed at the Polytechnic of Namibia. Eventually, she got the job!
The bigger the challenge the faster she’ll run towards it.
At the time when she first took the role as the receptionist at Namibia Business School, Christo’s son was a month old. Following her mother’s loving advice, she sacrificed and allowed her mother to care for her son for a year. Despite the emotional strain, the privilege of providing for her son outweighed her longing to be with him. As a result, she worked and dedicated herself to excel in her new role. Christo’s efforts while taking meeting minutes, managing the switchboard, and serving Management as a secretary are what opened the door to her current position, Student Support Officer.
As the manager of the Student Support Office, juggling many balls – and making sure they remain in the air – is part of her daily routine. Her office’s sole purpose is to serve the students throughout their academic journey. Those who know Christo can confirm that she is fueled by challenges – the bigger the challenge the faster she’ll run towards it. It was, therefore, no surprise when she decided to pursue the Diploma in Project Management in 2018.
Imagine this: the NBS foyer and courtyard area full of MBA, Project Management, and Senior Management students, as they mingle during the 30-minute break between classes. Christo is leaving the classroom and on her way to her office. An MBA student calls out saying, ‘Christo, I sent you an email inquiring about the marks for the test we wrote a week ago?’ Five minutes later, another student pulls her aside saying, ‘We have a group assignment for Scope and Schedule Management due on the 30th, would you like to be part of my group?’ She responds with a nod and a big dimpled smile.
As an NBS alumnus, Christo has gained insight she couldn’t have had otherwise. The Diploma in Project Management was followed by the Diploma for Middle Managers and Christo intends to keep studying.
Before the pandemic, the Business School offered Face-to-face classes on a Block Release Mode. The Face-to-face classes on Block Release mode meant the students attended classes twice a month during the weekends. This mode of study was built to cater to the schedules of busy employees, executives, and entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, some students were inconvenienced by the lecture timetables because of the distance between their homes and the various NBS centers.
The Student Support Office logged those complaints and shared them with the Management team. As a result, plans were underway to develop a Blended Learning Approach at the end of 2019. The Student Support Team didn’t know that they were preparing for a global pandemic.
As a Project Manager, your schedule is your biggest weapon. When you draft a schedule you can plan ahead, it gives you room to identify risks and you can counter those risks by planning accordingly.
When the pandemic started in 2020, the team developed a timetable that aligned with the original Block Release (classes running on weekends) but using Online tools like ZOOM and Moodle. Ironically, the lockdown was a blessing in disguise for the students, as they were no longer required to travel to attend classes. Although Covid-19 put a strain on a series of activities, the Student Support Office saw the challenges as opportunities.
The transition from face-to-face to online came with its challenges but it sharpened the team’s focus; to ‘educate and graduate’. Therefore, students are encouraged to contact Christo and the team via email, office telephones, WhatsApp, or on their personal phones.
My goal is to ensure every student has a memorable experience at NBS. To do that I am constantly revisiting the processes and thinking of ways to iterate and improve. So it is very helpful when students voice their concerns, their feedback gives us direction on the way forward.