Updated: Feb 3
As an intern at Sellside Group, I have gained invaluable experience in the consulting industry and the business world. I have also had the privilege to see firsthand the behind-the-scenes of what employers look for in their interns. As a college student, the ladder of the three is an essential tool to be able to fine tune our CVs and make ourselves more competitive on the job market. At Sellside, I have the opportunity to speak and work indirectly with an abundance of 35 seasoned executives, including Marinus Ferreira and Michael Burress, whom I both want to thank for their continuous support and guidance. Because of the close contact I had with Marinus Ferreira when we worked together on Project New Roots, I decided to interview him with a student's perspective on his intriguing past to not only get to know my coworker better, but to learn from him.
How have your childhood experiences carried onto your work today?
Growing up in Secunda, a small town in South Africa named after Sasol's second extraction refinery plant (hence Secunda) to a hard-working family, Marinus gained a wealth of values. Integrity, honesty, and determination, he says, are the values which he still carries with him in the business world. In fact, in Marinus' household, failure was not an option if you have determination.
You have extensive experience in the Petrochemical, Oil & Gas, Metals and minerals sectors. Do you believe your academic background helped you throughout your career, and do you believe that in today’s world, someone seeking employment in the Petrochemical, Oil & Gas, Metals and minerals sector should have such a background?
Marinus learned the basics of accounting and finance in high school, which was enough to land him his first entry-level accounting job. While he doesn't necessarily believe that a degree is necessary, he places a strong emphasis on the importance of education and strong moral values. According to Marinus, having strong values like honesty, hard work, and respect, which he learned from his family, can take you far in life. He believes that even though these values may seem obvious, "common sense is not always that common," and stresses the importance of treating everyone with respect, regardless of their social status.
To answer my first question, Marinus emphasized the importance of his gap year, which revealed his dislike for repetitiveness in a job such as accounting. He says, "Take chances, bet on yourself when the world won't bet on you. You must only convince yourself that you can make it (which is the biggest struggle)." For Marinus, risk-taking and determination are some of the most important attributes that a person should display, not necessarily a degree. New entrepreneurs lack confidence, he says. The main concept of starting a company shouldn't be about making money. If you find a job you love you will never work a day in your life. People start businesses for the wrong reasons. Always try your best, enjoy the experience and be willing to learn as there is always something to learn.
In terms of landing an entry-level job, from a student's perspective, Marinus says that interviews should just be a conversation. Seek interest in what they're doing and if it starts being a conversation you are on the right path. The key, according to Marinus, is to have a positive attitude and a willingness to learn: "if I fail, I'll try better the next time". As an employer, accountability is the best thing in life to work with, so become accountable for your actions and learn from your mistakes.
A hot topic for the new generations, when it comes to seeking jobs, is to find their passion. What got you into the staffing industry, and did you pick it up as a passion? Why did you choose the staffing industry.
Marinus, who hails from South Africa, where unemployment is currently at 42%, knows firsthand the importance of taking whatever job opportunities are available. However, he also recognizes the satisfaction that comes with being able to provide employment to others and contribute to their ability to support their families. He sees this as a very fulfilling aspect of his job. For him, finding his passion was more of a journey than a goal. Marinus likes to follow the proverb, "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak", and only through listening can you learn more and inch towards finding a passion.
Regarding Thusanyo Project Services, if you were to tell a recruiter what your leadership style is, what would it be? Lastly, what excites you the most about where Thusanyo Project Services company is heading? What are the biggest challenges you face during these times of high inflation and interest rates?
The approach Marinus found most success with is "I'll employ you and leave you work". It is hard and inefficient to upskill and micromanage everyone within a company. If you are hired, you are expected to do the job. Instead, people must find their own way, and getting kicked in their pool is the best way to learn. You must allow people to make mistakes to learn, otherwise they will be stuck in the same place.
A very exciting aspect about Thusanyo, says Marinus, is that we always have to evolve and show resilience. A recent example saw the company import labor into Bermuda due to high cost of capital caused by a recent increase in the minimum wage.
In terms of the high interest rates, Marinus believes that Thusanyo has been able to deal with it in the past as interest rates are always high in South Africa. In fact, Marinus announced that "[Thusanyo] grew a lot this year, and we opened in the US, and very excited to bring in international niche and leadership". He firmly believes that the US recession will be a big opportunity for them, as less permanent employment means more temporary employment. It will be essential, in the coming months, to allow clients to understand their culture. Marinus wants to elevate and assist their clients.