The power of perspective

Lorelle Viljoen believes that everyone has unlimited opportunities and what it takes to move beyond your comfort zone to challenge the norms of society.

29 May 2020 | People

Mariselle Stofberg





Lorelle Viljoen is the Culture Lead at the Capricorn Group. She is a compassionate, determined and motivated woman who enjoys inspiring others to enjoy this wonderful journey called life. “Life in general and careers in particular, are not necessarily linear. They're more like a Salvador Dali painting overlaid on a three-dimensional game of poker. Sometimes it only makes sense retrospectively; even then, it sometimes doesn't make sense at all.”

She says that her profession as Culture Lead makes her responsible for creating and implementing an innovative approach to people, culture and employee engagement. Viljoen grew up in the capital and matriculated at Windhoek High School in 1989. She completed her BA Industrial Psychology Degree through the University of South Africa (Unisa) before venturing into the “real world of work”.

“I have been working at the Capricorn Group for 14 years in the Human Capital Department, an area that provides me with immense satisfaction when dealing with employee matters and finding ways of encouraging and motivating people to be the best they can be.

“In partnership with executive leadership, I help to develop and manage a variety of culture and engagement initiatives with the aim of creating an atmosphere of inclusion and wellbeing, and to foster a positive employee experience that drives engagement and personal development,” she adds.

“Resistance to change is quite common amongst most people and is a challenge that we need to deal with quite regularly from a culture perspective,” Viljoen says. “Shaping people’s mindset and attitude can be challenging. Often people have their own, fixed ways of seeing and doing things. While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, those underlying beliefs and assumptions can sometimes hinder innovation.

“When things have been done in a certain way for a long time, it becomes the norm. People can become resistant to change purely because they are afraid of failure.” She adds that this attitude can be changed by creating an environment that embraces the “safe space to fail” approach.

“This is one of the many things that The Capricorn Way, our internal culture and way of doing things, supports. Learn from your mistakes and then move forward. In the process, you will be actively supported by your line manager and others in the organisation,” she says.

Viljoen, who was a key member of the team behind the development of The Capricorn Way, explains that it is an internal code of norms and behaviours that all employees at the Group aspire to.

‘ANIMAL WHISPERER’

Viljoen says she appreciates the mysteries, simplicity and vastness that nature offers and enjoys travelling and having culinary experiences in the countries she visits. “I enjoy fishing and accompanying my significant other on camping trips. I love children and being in their company – their sincerity is a great inspiration to me.”

One wish she has is that she knew how to talk to animals, particularly birds. “I would have loved to hear their thoughts about the type of food we give them, the tone of voice we use when talking to them, and just what they think of our habits in general!”

Viljoen is grateful for the multiple opportunities she was given to gain knowledge and to understand life while growing up as a child. “When I was young, I was so eager to try many different things and also encouraged to do so by my parents. I tried to ride a bicycle, tried to catch a grasshopper and loved playing with mud and sand, building imaginary castles. During these adventures, I developed various interests and it provided me with valuable experience that I cannot replace with anything else today.”

Her resilience has enabled her to never stop trying, even when failing, because being strong and picking your head up is an intrinsic part of this powerful woman’s personality.

Viljoen’s corporate superpower is her ability to persuade others, to win them over to the subject at hand and to inspire them to action. “This is grounded in my deep relationship with that person and in my own integrity. When you carry out your role with excellence and a commitment to serving others, you can persuade others with genuine authority.

“I always try to make the most of this ability by focusing my persuasive efforts to the maximum benefit of everyone, rather than myself. It is then that I experience that people call on me when they need to address an intimidating issue or make an important decision, because they trust my ability to provide them with the direction they need, and not because I act from a position of ‘know-it-all’.”

She encourages the youth to be confident and to believe in their ability to succeed in life. “Planning and acting are inherently linked. So show up, do your work in the moment and eventually you will reap the rewards.”

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