Passionate and dedicated

NBL employees have proven they are dedicated, hardworking and passionate about their careers.

20 September 2019 | Business

Mariselle Stofberg

Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) - a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group - prides itself on not only creating a constructive working environment, but investing in its employees and providing them with the best possible career opportunities.

Careers had the opportunity to speak to three NBL employees to gain some insight into their careers and the skills required to be successful.

Kleopas Martin (brewmaster)

Kleopas Martin is 35 years of age and is a brewmaster by profession. He is currently employed by NBL as a unit manager in the supply chain division.

Martin was born in Ondangwa and completed his high school at Ongha Senior Secondary School.

“Upon completion of my grade 12, I did a bridging course for engineering at the University of Namibia (Unam), with vast opportunities and offers from different organisations to further my studies.”

Martin never dreamed of becoming a brewer, but after consultations with Christian Weindl, the brewing manager at the time, with regards to the potential growth opportunities within the field of brewing, his focus shifted and he decided to “take the bull by its horns and pursue a career in brewing”.

“The main aim of the training I did in becoming a brewer was the complexity of the process, with all aspects of engineering, including mechanical, electrical, biotechnology, chemistry and microbiology, to mention but a few. The advantages also included learning German as a foreign language. In 2006, after the successful completion of my seven-month certificate in Germany, I resumed my employment with NBL as a brewer.”

After gaining intensive exposure during 2012 and 2013, he went back to Germany to further his studies and complete his brewmaster degree at Doemens Fachademie.

The brewer programme consists of three years of intensive theoretical training, practical training and German language training. Upon the successful completion of the programme, he was sent to Germany to become a certified brewer and maltster through the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Success in this career requires a high level of self-discipline, high technical capability, high levels of learning capacity, being able to work under pressure and an innovative spirit.”

The challenges he experienced in his career were to learn and master German, while doing theoretical and practical assessments at the same time. “I overcame it through self-discipline and knowing my end goal. My future plans include taking over bigger responsibilities in top management and motivating and developing young Namibian brewers to follow in my footsteps.”

Birgit Kriess (brewing technologist)

Kriess was born and raised in Windhoek and attended school at the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule (DHPS) from grades 1 to 12.

“My biggest hobby has always been horse-riding, but I also enjoy being out in nature, reading, dancing, shooting and playing billiards.”

She completed her malting and brewing degree at Ferdinand-von-Steinbeiss Berufschule in Ulm, Germany in 2008 and also completed her bachelor of engineering in brewing and beverage technology at Hochschule Weihenstephan/Triesdorf in Freising, Germany in 2017.

“After school I went to Germany to study to become a veterinary nurse. I quickly realised that this was not the right career for me. An acquaintance from Namibia Breweries told me that they were looking for brewing apprentices, so I decided to give it a try and eventually fell in love with the world of brewing.”

Her first three years to become a qualified brewer consisted of practical training at NBL, with regular theoretical training weeks that included exams.

“If you have managed to excel in all the requirements, you are then sent to Germany for nine months for additional theoretical training at a recognised institute, as well as practical training at a malting plant. If you pass your final written and oral exams, you are then furnished with a brewing and malting degree.”

Kriess believes that a good knowledge of mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are essential to becoming a qualified brewer. She added that one needs good problem-solving skills and should be able to excel in a stressful environment, and be a team player.

“Don’t be afraid of physical labour; a brewer is first and foremost a well-paid cleaner!”

Being the only woman in a male-dominated environment, Kriess has proven she has what it takes to distinguish herself in her field.

“Twelve-hour shifts are hard and it is really difficult to get used to working nights and weekends, while your friends are out partying. This is especially difficult during December, when we have our peak season and therefore there is a block on leave for production employees.”

Kriess plans to keep working to achieve the dreams and goals she has set for herself. “If you really want to excel in your career, you need to work harder and smarter. Do the extra work, even if it is not in your job description, and do it well.”

Frank Boye (brewmaster)

Boye was born in Otjiwarongo and grew up and was schooled in Swakopmund. After completing high school he went to Germany and worked there for a few years to figure out what he wanted to do. “My work in Germany brought me into contact with beer on a daily basis and I believe that this is where I first started to think about the possibility of becoming more than a consumer.”

It was during one of his holidays in Namibia, after he had applied for an apprentice position at a few German breweries, that he was introduced to NBL’s brewmaster back then. “It became quite clear that I would rather do my apprenticeship at NBL than in Germany. Three weeks later I started at NBL.”

His apprenticeship involved learning all the sections in the brewing, packaging, utilities as well as quality departments. Boye was exposed and guided through all the production steps to build his knowledge, so that he would have the necessary foundation to pass his exams in Germany.

Boye has gained so much insight and knowledge throughout his career. “You must be willing to work hard, be willing to work shifts and learn. Flexibility, being a team player, punctuality, honesty, dedication to your work and a willingness to learn are just some of skills that are required.”

Learning the basics of all the sections in the brewery was quite easy for Boye. Really understanding them and the theory behind it required a bit of time and work. “For those who do not speak German, learning the language will be a challenge, but you will receive all the help you need to succeed. One thing that has accompanied me throughout the years in my work is the dedication that you need to be able to grow in this job.”

Boye describes his time while completing his master brewer certificate in Germany as the most difficult part of his journey, as it meant he had to sit down and study on a daily basis after 12 years of working as a brewer. “Every day and every situation can be used as a learning process. From some you learn positives and from some you will learn negatives. Life throws you some curveballs every now and again, so I will look to use these opportunities, as they arise, to grow myself and continue to work in the beverage industry.”


Photo 1 & 2: Kleopas Martin is a brewmaster at NBL, who is passionate about his career.

Photo 3 & 4: Birgit Kriess is a brewing technologist and is making her mark in a male-dominated field.

Photo 5 & 6: Frank Boye is a brewmaster at NBL, who believes one is able to learn so much from your life experiences.


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