A native Capetonian, she studied at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, earning degrees in business and law. While working as an attorney, she completed an MBA and shifted into a career as a tax consultant. Today, she’s legal counsel in the Group Exploration department of De Beers Group.
But Hermien’s top-notch technical expertise and 12 years of experience had its limitations. She realized she needed to improve her team effectiveness and people skills to grow in her career. So when her alma mater sent her information about Center for Creative Leadership’s (CCL) Leadership Development Program (LDP)®, Hermien eagerly signed up.
Hermien was one of 24 people who attended LDP at the University of Stellenbosch in August 2008 — the first to be held on the African continent. The program brought together managers and professionals from African financial companies, the mining industry and non-government organizations based in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
Through LDP, Hermien gained insight into the personal side of leadership, something she had not experienced through her academic coursework and day-to-day work. The five-day program focuses on understanding your own behaviors, perspectives and preferences — and how they impact others. “I learned a great deal about the way I think about myself and the reasons for my thinking,” notes Hermien.
“Receiving feedback from my peers and superiors was one of the most powerful elements of the program. I was able to understand how other people see me in the work environment and better understand the impact of my leadership style on other people.” She says a one-to-one session with a CCL coach also proved valuable.
The personal insights, along with practical tools and strategies learned during LDP, are making a difference for Hermien at work. Most notably, she’s changing the way she interacts with others in her team. “I’m able to give feedback in a more constructive manner and to work better as part of a team. Following the program, I have made a concerted effort to ask for input, ideas and advice from colleagues in the Group Exploration Business Management Team. I’m also learning to be more effective in dealing with people from different professional backgrounds than mine.”
Always eager to learn and take on new challenges, Hermien sees her increased ability to work well with others as essential to her future success. “Knowing more about myself — compared with the way other people see me — is making me a well-rounded person and better equipped to lead,” she says.