Train­ing her pas­sion

The ap­proach to train­ing is ex­tremely im­por­tant

Finweek English Edition - - People -

TWO YEARS AGO the much sought-af­ter green card of the United States was granted to Minette Smit but, like a date who has been left wait­ing for too long, she turned it down. Smit (45) – founder and di­rec­tor of Com­pli­ance On­line – de­cided to stay in South Africa and make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to its econ­omy.

She now heads a suc­cess­ful busi­ness that de­vel­ops and im­ple­ments ef­fi­cient com­pli­ance pro­grammes for the pri­vate as well as the pub­lic sec­tor. The pro­grammes fo­cus on, among other things, SA’s Com­pe­ti­tion Act and anti-cor­rup­tion leg­is­la­tion and will soon in­clude our new con­sumer leg­is­la­tion.

Smit’s ex­ten­sive ca­reer ex­pe­ri­ence in the aca­demic world and com­pe­ti­tion sec­tor pre­pared her ex­cel­lently for this task. In ad­di­tion, she en­joys ed­u­cat­ing clients and guid­ing them through the maze of com­pli­ance train­ing.

Too many com­pa­nies ap­proach com­pli­ance train­ing from the view­point it must serve as “ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances” af­ter they’ve been found guilty of un­com­pet­i­tive prac­tice, Smit says. “That’s the wrong ap­proach. The rea­son for com­pa­nies to con­duct com­pli­ance train­ing is to de­ter­mine ex­actly what’s go­ing on in the com­pany so that risk can be man­aged proac­tively.

“In most cases, train­ing is re­ac­tive: a com­pany is first called to ac­count and pe­nalised with a stiff fine and, as part of its agree­ment with the com­pe­ti­tion au­thor­i­ties, a com­pli­ance pro­gramme is im­ple­mented, of which train­ing is one com­po­nent. By then the com­pany’s im­age has al­ready been tar­nished.

“Com­pa­nies must re­alise the train­ing facet of the com­pli­ance pro­gramme must be ap­proached with the nec­es­sary se­ri­ous­ness. Train­ing must be given in or­di­nary, ev­ery­day lan­guage. The le­gal ter­mi­nol­ogy must be sim­pli­fied and the prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion of the leg­is­la­tion must be il­lus­trated in the work­ing sit­u­a­tion – oth­er­wise em­ploy­ees won’t re­ally ben­e­fit.”

Pre­cisely be­cause of the many “grey ar­eas” in SA’s Com­pe­ti­tion Act and its reg­u­la­tions – which are dif­fi­cult to in­ter­pret – it’s re­quired a lot of im­prove­ment and re­fine­ment by both South African and over­seas ex­perts to pre­pare the train­ing ma­te­rial to make it ac­ces­si­ble to all, Smit says.

Her in­ter­est in the field was stim­u­lated by for­mer Uni­ver­sity of the Orange Free State prin­ci­pal Pro­fes­sor Fred­er­ick Fourie. His doc­tor­ate at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity was about in­dus­trial econ­omy, with a strong em­pha­sis on com­pe­ti­tion. When she was do­ing her Hon­ours with Fourie, Smit’s in­ter­est in the field was stim­u­lated so much her Hon­ours, Mas­ter’s and Doc­toral stud­ies all cov­ered var­i­ous as­pects of this field. Her Doc­tor­ate the­sis fo­cused on the in­flu­ence of the con­cen­tra­tion of power on labour and wages.

When the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion was formed, Fourie (who had been in­volved in draft­ing the Act) urged her to ap­ply for the po­si­tion of chief econ­o­mist. She was sec­onded to the com­mis­sion in Pre­to­ria in 1999, where she man­aged its pol­icy and man­age­ment depart­ment and served on its ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

As chief econ­o­mist, Smit had to en­sure the com­mis­sion’s eco­nomic analy­ses of cases were con­ducted cor­rectly. She was also in­volved in a num­ber of high pro­file amal­ga­ma­tion cases in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices, in­for­ma­tion technology, health­care and trans­port sec­tors. And she also had to keep an eye on the re­search into a large num­ber

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