Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do. This is the same spirit summoned by King Shaka Airport, Grade 1 Fire & Rescue employee, from uThongathi, Sibusiso Mthembu.

Like most graduates, he found it hard getting a job in his chosen area of study, Human Resources (HR), to which he holds a diploma from Durban University of Technology.

“It was difficult applying and not getting the opportunities because I did not have the experience,” says Mthembu. “My fortunes changed one day having lunch at the airports’ food court, my family and I were there to welcome my sister from a trip. I saw a poster advertising learnerships. I applied for the HR and Fire & Rescue and was accepted for the later. That is where my journey with King Shaka International Airport started.”

Fire & Rescue
Sibusiso Mthembu

Only three permanent spots were up for grabs for the hopefuls at the end of the 18 months learnership, and only a promise of a Certificate of participation on the learnership for the rest. This was enough motivation for the highly focused uThongathi born Mthembu, who was raised with his three siblings by a single mother.

“The situation at home; growing up with a single parent and three siblings, made me strong mentally. Seeing my mother go all out for us to succeed pushed me to give my all to improve and change our family’s circumstances. The success of my peers too, also motivated me, to make sure that I take one of the three available spots at the end. I thought to myself, that this is the start of my career.

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Mthembu believes success looks for a good place to latch itself and preparation keeps you at the top.

“I exposed myself to all the nooks and crannies of the organisation, volunteered at every turn and attended roadshows hosted by the Airport General Manager. My plan or strategy was to know everything there was to know about the organisations in preparation for the assessment at the end of the learnership.

“What also helped was that ACSA is a pro-learning organisation, and the colleagues are welcoming and ready to share knowledge,” explains Mthembu on how he eventually landed a spot in the Fire & Rescue department at King Shaka International Airport.

Fire & Rescue
Sibusiso Mthembu

While Mthembu hopes to improve his Fire & Rescue department Grades all the way to Head of Department one day. He still wants to continue his studies in by adding a B-Tech to his diploma in HR and hopes one day he may be able to use it at ACSA too.

“I love my job, our approach is preventative fire and rescue strategies, as that is the best form of risk mitigation. On a typical day we check runways, ensure there are no spillages, as well as general check-ups ensuring that people are wearing the correct gear like protective shoes, reflective vests, and ear plugs especially airside. We also respond to any road related incidents next to the airport. Roads leading to the airport must be clear of traffic always to avoid travellers missing their flights. We also assist the communities surrounding the airport.”