Patrys van der Westhuizen: a true Hollardite, through and through
Date posted: 18 Nov 2013
It's been a big year for Patrys van der Westhuizen, head of Hollard Namibia's northern region – he turned 60, celebrated 30 years of marriage and took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Thailand. As a broker-centric, relationship-driven business, Hollard relies as much on the personalities of its team members as on its product line-up, underwriting skills and risk management capabilities. One of the biggest personalities in the company belongs to Patrys van der Westhuizen, manager of Hollard Namibia's northern region, comprising Otjiwarongo, Rundu, Tsumeb and Oshakati. Patrys has been with Hollard Namibia since it started in 2003, but his association with the people who work here goes back way further. "I was part of the team that started at IGI in the 1980s," he says. "We were all marketers together there with Johan, and we stayed on as the business was sold from one company to another, and then finally to Hollard.”
The Johan he’s referring to is, of course, Hollard Namibia CEO Johan Barnard, who had this to say about his long-time colleague and friend:
"Patrys was my senior for many years earlier in my career and I cannot emphasise enough how much respect he earned from me.
“I started to work under Patrys 25 years ago and the most important thing I learnt from him, I still try to apply on a daily basis: he has the ability to treat customers and brokers with utmost respect at all times. He always conducts his dealing in absolute good faith and with utmost honesty, regardless of what anyone throws at him. He is just one of those individuals who everybody loves to work with.”
Johan says Patrys has done a fantastic job growing Hollard in the north of Namibia without needing much support from the team in Windhoek.
“He is very undemanding, and able to get on with things on his own, without needing much from us,” he says. “He has made an enormous contribution towards growing our presence from zero to four branches in the north in just 10 years.
"I salute and thank you, Patrys, and am honoured to be associated with you." This loyalty runs both ways. “We stick with Johan, you know,” says Patrys. “Where he goes, we go. We are more like a family."
Patrys is no stranger to working with family: his wife Carin is the chief underwriter for the northern region and one of their daughters, Stefne, is also part of the team. (Their other daughter, Colleen, is interning as a biokineticist in Cape Town.)
"Patrys and I have been working together for nine years and have never had a problem. At work, he's the boss and we do what he says. At home it's the other way round," she laughs. "But seriously, work stays at work and home stays at home. He is a very good listener and always considers everyone's input."
Patrys is a keen fisherman and recently returned from a trip to Thailand with JJ Smit of Invictus Brokers.
"We have worked together for so long that I think of him more as a friend than a business partner," he says. "We even share a boat up on the Zambezi, which we won two years ago on a trip up there."
Patrys and his team spend a lot of time with their brokers.
"We really enjoy doing things together, like fishing and playing golf – and doing business, of course!" he says. "Even though it's always 'business first', we believe in the power of good personal relationships to drive the business ones."