By Jacobus Vorster
Natal, 1975: I was born in the peaceful halls of Addington hospital – a former war sanctuary situated on the northern beaches of Durban, South Africa. The city exhibits an array of diverse cultures and fabulous architecture that date back to the British colonial 1800s, when people searched for fortune and adventure to tame Mother Africa. This story, however, begins at a moment when a young Jacobus trekked 265 kilometres northeast with his parents, to the ‘Kingdom of the Zulu’.
During my formative years, I experienced the African way of life and, of course, a daunting encounter (aged 10) with an inquisitive male warthog. It turned out that both of us ran in the opposite direction. That simple, yet rich way of life, forged a resilient and passionate character. A passionate character that earned me the nickname ‘Umfana Ibhubesi’ which roughly translates as, the young courageous lion, but that is a tale for another day.
I commenced my schooling at Hluhluwe primary school at the tender age of five and continued my early tuition days in a nearby town called Empangeni (Gathering place of the Zulu). My father had to move numerous times with his government job, but those journeys provided me with lasting memories of a place surrounded in golden savannas, home to a spectacular display of wildlife, and stories that capture the imagination to take you back to a moment when the mighty ‘white thorn tree’ once held the secrets of time. This environment allowed me to enthusiastically read books and have fruitful conversations with people, to learn life skills and, of course, how to cook up a storm.
I graduated high school (1992) with a moderate grade 12 certificate and at the age of 17 this became a defining moment. I was too young to attend compulsory military service and did not wish to enter the workforce. Through a family decision, I joined the military – Infantry leadership school for three years and was honoured as a military instructor. I then followed in my father’s footsteps and completed a trade qualification in heavy earthmoving equipment. A rapid progression through the leadership ranks motivated me to explore the private sector to acquire new skills and knowledge. Caterpillar provided the answer in 2003 and I progressed among the leadership ranks. In 2008, I decided to immigrate to Australia and arrived as a novel immigrant having a fair go at new experiences and challenges.
Nevertheless, I intensely persevered and completed a Master of Business administration in Human Resource management to shape the purpose of enrolling into a higher research degree at CQUniversity. Two-and-a-half years later and the concluding chapter of this journey is lurking in the distance, to mould the pathway for a PhD in organisational psychology; with the end goal to transition from my current career in the mining industry into the academic world. This urge is motivated by the fact that I have proven time and again to be a high-achieving learner with an intrinsic implore for problem-solving and an analytical mind, and have a passion for people, in particular, the modern employee.
I always had a tremendous hunger for words of wisdom that drive personal resilience to exude a conscientious attitude towards my endeavours. In essence, success entails trivial efforts that are summed up repeatedly. It is the impeccable and unimpeachable truth in the fact that has kept my dream alive to study people behaviour and enrich my own sense of self to assist those people to make a difference in this world.