Aanhouer wen – perseverance pays off
Sometimes, Allana Sampson gets surprised by the power of social media and how Wärtsilä’s presence there has become more influential within her seven years in the company. “My family and friends are sometimes calling me to tell me the latest Wärtsilä news they’ve seen on the Discovery Channel or Youtube. I find this quite amusing considering Wärtsilä is not yet that well known here in South Africa,” Allana tells.
As the Executive Assistant of Wärtsilä’s Managing Director in East Africa, Allana gets to manage tasks well beyond the standard job portfolio of any assistant. “Originally, I joined Wärtsilä as I wanted new challenges. And oh boy, have I been challenged – but in a good sense. Besides being constantly open-minded towards changing situations or ad-hoc assignments to help my line manager, I’ve got to learn a lot about Business Communications. Besides updating our local webpages and intranet, I do some IT on-site support and acted as a co-project manager when we renovated our office,” Allana says with a hint of laughter in her voice and continues “I hope you won’t test me on my IT skills”.
Taking on these new tasks, has also taught Allana to turn to others for support. “I think the network one builds within ‘the administrative circle’ is priceless as the support and assistance of these colleagues is unparalleled. There is always a helping hand. This helpful attitude filters through to our customer-centric values and service delivery. Whether you are behind the scenes or face-to-face with a customer, it is One Wärtsilä, one goal!” Allana describes the atmosphere.
When talking with Allana, one cannot help noticing how she herself embodies this attitude all the way from head to toe. “I will always help where I can. Whether the inquiry falls within my expertise area or not, I will explore every avenue to resolve the situation,” Allana describes her work ethics that she shares with her colleagues. Most recently, Allana used her excellent vendor contacts to arrange a visa for a foreign colleague – and she did it quickly. “We literally got the visa three hours before the flight took off. This case shows how building good relationships and personally knowing who to contact can help you a lot.”
Even if Allana normally doesn’t deal with people at the customer organisations directly, there have been times when even a customer inquiry has landed on her table. “In these cases, I’ve assisted the best I can and followed up with the customer that their query was resolved.”
Allana gives a helpful hand not only to her colleagues and Wärtsilä’s customers but also to the local community around. A few years back, when Wärtsilä South Africa established a library and a computer room on the local primary school, Allana got to manage the initiative. “Due to gang violence, the school kids were too afraid to use the public library to do research for assignments or even just get a book to read. Still, it wasn’t common to have such facilities at school premises in the underprivileged areas of South Africa. Thanks to our contribution, the people got access to much needed reading material and the online world,” Allana tells. “The gratitude from the community left one close to tears and one could sense of accomplishing something worthwhile and amazing.”
In Wärtsilä, Allana enjoys its culture and the work-life balance they have. For a mother of two daughters it is inevitable. “My kids deserve a lion share of my attention during free-time but when I do then have some 'me time’, I enjoy baking. I am no Master Chef. However, when baking and cooking, same principles apply as at work: when one follows the structured process, the recipe, the end result is a success (in baking not always the case).”
With that attitude, Allana will most likely surpass any challenge she faces and her way of working sounds something we can all learn from. “There is an Afrikaans saying 'aanhouer wen' which means perseverance pays off. This is something that I hope also Wärtsilians keep in mind; focusing now on renewable energy sources, will pay off in five years’ time. And then I will be able to add another knowledge skill set to my portfolio, saying that I was there when it all begun,” Allana envisions and encourages all her Wärtsilä colleagues with some concluding words, “there would be several counterparts I could thank for these seven years so I just settle saying that we Wärtsilians do rock!”