Managing Director at Namforce, Martin Shaanika.
Managing Director at Namforce, Martin Shaanika.

Change through leadership

Martin Shaanika is living proof that nothing can stop you from succeeding if you have faith in yourself
Jamie-Lee Loss
Martin Shaanika was raised in the Omusati Region's Uukwaluudhi village of Iiyale. He defines himself as passionate about Namibian affairs. Shaanika holds degrees from both Rhodes University and the University of Namibia (Unam). He is a chartered accountant by profession.

Shaanika began working as a trainee accountant at Deloitte Windhoek after graduating from university. The majority of his clients were from the financial services industry, such as banks, pension funds, and asset managers.

After completing three years of articles training, he started working at Deloitte’s London office in the UK, in order to gain international exposure.

He worked as a banking client assistant, managing the treasury and asset securitisation aspects of the audits.

Home, sweet home

Shaanika then returned to Namibia because he had always felt that Africa needed his skills more than any other place. He joined PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Windhoek on his return.

He oversaw a variety of portfolios at PwC, including banking, insurance, asset management, investments, and energy. Following that, he joined Namforce in 2019 as the chief financial officer, and his exposure to and experience in the financial services industry enabled him to advance to the role of managing director.

"It has been good so far. Being in leadership has its ups and downs. A lot is required in setting and achieving the company's strategic focus and goals," Shaanika said. "It was an honour. I always aspired to lead. My dream was always to make a meaningful impact on my country, and there’s no better position from which to make an impact other than from a leadership position," he said.

However, there are challenges, such as the procedures linked to legal, regulatory, and operational matters. He emphasised that he has the best staff and board to help him achieve his strategic objectives.

Accomplishments

Some of his achievements include becoming a chartered accountant, which entailed a rigorous process.

Becoming a managing director at the age of 33 and at a relatively new entity was another milestone.

Shaanika said Namforce is relatively new compared to other insurance companies that have been around for more than a century.

Most professionals would shy away from a new entity and would rather stay with an old and established company as a security guarantee. However, accepting the challenge and realising the legacy he could create at Namforce motivated him.

Challenges

Shaanika said work assignments have been a challenge and required a sacrifice of his social life, but it was important to adapt to working under pressure as that has built perseverance. Along the way, he has encountered plenty of sceptics and opponents, but he has never lost sight of his ultimate objective.

He emphasised that positioning Namforce as the nation's most popular insurance company is his short-term objective.

He underlined that Namforce employees are youthful, qualified, and active – 75% are younger than 35, and everyone has a strong sense of creativity and teamwork.

Advice for the youth:

• Discipline is key.

• Set your goals and work tirelessly towards them.

• Mental health is critical; don’t neglect it

• Get the right mentor and not just any mentor.

Daily routine

He interacts with potential customers every day and meets with the managers of each department to ensure they are following through on their action plans.

Shaanika said he would have surely entered the field of astronomy if he were not in his current line of work.

He employs a blended transformational and laissez-faire leadership style and firmly believes that employing the right people and having faith in them eliminates the need for micromanagement.

10 Facts about Martin Shaanika

• I love soccer.

• I am 1.7 metre tall

• I fractured my bones on four different occasions

• My hometown is Tsandi

• I support Arsenal football team

• I have made it to the Brandberg Mountain summit

• I was raised by my grandmother

• I don’t drink

• My body is intolerant to fruits and vegetables

• I am a small-scale livestock farmer



He says his favourite childhood memory is of missing one day of primary school because his grandmother took him to the hospital when he was sick. To get to the clinic, they had to walk more than ten kilometres one way. At times, his grandmother carried him, while at other times, he had to walk by himself. Looking back, she showed her wonderful affection throughout the entire situation.

His interests include hiking and playing soccer. He would advise being compassionate and lending a helping hand to people in need if he could go back in time to provide counsel to his younger self.

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Allgemeine Zeitung 2022-11-27

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