While mixing a good cup of coffee or serving a well-presented plate of culinary delights take the prize for being the most exciting job in Willem Veiko’s life, it did not take long for the former chef and hotel manager to adapt to his new role – albeit in a completely different environment.
Working as a public health monitoring and evaluation data clerk for the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ special programme’s directorate, Veiko traded the cooking whisk and spatula for data collection files and entry systems with consummate ease.
But, according to him, one crucial role – which he cherishes – remained: to serve the masses.
The Okahandja-based Windhoek native says, “Working in the public service will always give you pleasure, knowing that you are providing a service directly to your fellow countrymen and women. Public service jobs are one of the most sought-after, as they help with career guidance and skills development while providing you with great interpersonal skills”.
Born in Windhoek and raised in the dusty townships of Katutura, the proud father, husband, community activist and ecopreneur has a combined 10 years of work experience in the hospitality industry, where he professedly started at the bottom as a waiter before working his way up the ladder.
“Through my love for people and being in the hospitality industry, I found myself more and more involved in community service-oriented work. I started working in public health in 2020 at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. I was employed as part of the Covid-19 response task force,” Veiko revealed.
On the job
According to Veiko, his job entails public health data collection, sorting, and entry updates for the Ministry of Health and Social Services. He takes pride in the fact that as data specialists, his team is at the heart of the ministry’s statistical database – and as such, influences the decision-making process, a job that requires absolute accuracy and timeliness. But the job is not free from challenges.
Veiko said the lack of adequate information within some informal areas and farm settlements makes it difficult to always collect accurate data as the community members withhold relevant information.
“Community members can be very ignorant and always choose to be difficult rather than understanding,” Veiko lamented, adding the team circumvents these challenges with its dedication to serving the people through the public health sector while working towards creating standards that report information accurately and on time.
“Data entry is one of the most significant activities for the development of every business. We often notice many people underrating the importance of this job, thinking that it does not add any value to the institution. They cannot be more wrong since accurate data entry is the backbone of every government institution. It is an efficient and unique skill that enables companies to maintain up-to-date and accurate records from invoices to contracts. While most high-grade employees might not envy this job, it is something they must be extremely thankful for,” Veiko stresses.
For one to excel in this job, according to Veiko, a penchant for accuracy and the ability to work on deadlines are a necessity.
Hopefuls should also harbour the ability to communicate in different local languages, the passion to work with people, and an innate love to accomplish tasks.
This, in addition to being extra attentive during the training workshops, which, according to Veiko, are “always a highlight within the public health sector, as it always keeps the public servants well informed and educated on the pandemic and new variants”.
“It’s a different type of challenge working for the government. The work is never-ending and there is always something to do. There is a challenge of work overload. The departments are understaffed and, therefore, always put pressure on the workforce,” Heiko revealed, reiterating that while public servants are customer-based people who are always ready to give a helping hand, these same people are overworked.
“I do not agree with the sentiments that public servants are not doing a great job. Pair them with good team leaders and their performance is always 100%,” he enthused.
Asked how long he plans to stay in the public service, Veiko admitted he is employed in the government because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but he is determined to prove himself with the hope that his “skills and know-how can be used in different government directorates”.
Be that as it may, Veiko is seemingly a man of many passions: a self-styled ecopreneur and environmentalist; his wish is that the Namibian government will do away with all the paper trails and go fully digital.
“I am for the saving of trees and the planet at large, so whatever practice to ensure that our government is going green, I am for it,” he said.