Mothobi Erasmus – Making his mark through innovative thinking

In February 2017, Gem Diamonds identified the need for a formal business-review process. A dedicated Business Transformation team was tasked with leading the identification of cost reduction and productivity improvement opportunities across the organisation. This review would lead to the delivery of US$100 million in incremental revenue, productivity improvements and cost savings over the four-year period to end 2021.

In truth, the opportunities were created by the entire workforce in focused idea-generation sessions aimed at encouraging bottom-up innovation and ownership. This initiative is evidence of the fact that we need exceptional people to remain competitive. Here is the story, in his own words, of one such person: Mothobi Erasmus, Gem Diamonds’ Continuous Improvement Lead.

Komete Seotsonyan, an intern leading the team on the ARS pilot plant,
with Mothobi Erasmus, Letšeng Continuous Improvement Lead

“My name is Mothobi Erasmus and I have been an employee of Letšeng for the past eight years. I joined as an intern in 2011 after completing my MSc in extractive metallurgy at Stellenbosch University. Before I joined Letšeng diamond mine, I was a Science and Maths teacher in a high school. But teaching was not my calling. I studied chemical technology at the National University of Lesotho and became a teacher only after I couldn't find employment in my field. One day, I stumbled upon an advert in a newspaper for a scholarship offered by Letšeng to study metallurgy. I had always wanted to be employed at Letšeng so I applied immediately. I was called in for interviews alongside many other applicants. Fortunately, I was successful and received a scholarship to study at Stellenbosch University. I went to Stellenbosch in 2008 and received a post-graduate diploma in process engineering and then qualified to study for my Masters. Letšeng was kind enough to extend my scholarship so that I could study towards an MSc in extractive metallurgy.

After completing my MSc, Letšeng offered me an internship at the mine for two years. In 2013, I was offered permanent employment as a process engineer. And then, in 2015, I was promoted to plant metallurgist. Two years later, the mine started its Business Transformation (BT) process.

Each department presented initiatives that would ensure improvements in overall efficiency and effectiveness. I was one of the initiative owners and my role was to ensure that my ideas reached execution stage. When my superiors realised that I was progressing well, they asked me to help all project owners reach implementation stage.

While I was a BT agent, management recognised my efforts and I was promoted to Continuous Improvement Lead. Reflecting back, I can say that the BT process has made me realise my true potential and helped me to grow within the mine.”