Introducing JJ van Wyk
QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE

• JJ van Wyk obtained a B.Sc. Eng. (Elec.) degree from University of Pretoria in 1973;
• obtained his GCC Electrical Engineer Mines & Works in ’78;
• registered as a Professional Engineer with the ECSA in ’79;
• completed the Advanced Executive Program at the UNISA School of Business Leadership in ’81; and
• participated in the Joint Staff Course at the SA Defence College in 1988.

With a holistic perspective and quick to grasp the fundamentals and the potential of new and emerging technologies, JJ has used his talents in integrative roles in systems engineering, and in the integrative management of multi-disciplinary projects and organisations, rather than becoming a specialist in any narrow technical field.

JJ has worked in several engineering and management roles in the chemical, mining, defence, ICT, power and other industries. His experience included:
• design engineer on municipal power distribution and reticulation systems
• engineer responsible for electrical maintenance operations, fault-finding and repair, on process plants and on electrical-powered open-pit mining equipment and haul-trucks;
• participation in world-class operations management;
• project and systems engineering, ranging from high-value electronic warfare systems for the SAAF, to power generation using poultry litter as biomass feedstock;
• project and programme management (on the OTB mega-project discussed below);
• the acquisition of high-value defence systems, capital equipment and infrastructure;
• export business development (for the SA defence industry);
• marketing management (for an ICT services company);
• managing a portfolio of diverse capital projects (on a gold mine); and
• business management.

He does not make a sharp distinction between his roles in engineering and in management. Except for his first year as a design engineer at a firm of consulting engineers, all his positions with ‘engineer’ in the title involved either the line management of several people, or the management of substantial projects. Conversely, in his later years, when there would no longer be an ‘engineer’ in the title, JJ would bring a systems-engineering approach to the management of organisations, particularly business enterprises.

JJ’s work history is extensive – his appointments and endeavours are too many to detail in an introduction.

Introducing JJ van Wyk

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT

The sheer scope and ambition of one particular endeavour back in the 80’s are astounding and difficult to communicate to most South Africans today, yet expanding a little on what was to be JJ’s most outstanding achievement may best illustrate his capacity and talent.

While still in his thirties, JJ led the establishment and initial operations of the Overberg Test Range (Overberg Toetsbaan or OTB ), from ‘81 to ‘88. The work included conceptual design, master-planning, systems engineering, managing a programme of several projects for the acquisition of high-value systems and infrastructure, and organisation development. For this, JJ was nominated for the Armscor Chairman’s Award in 1987.

OTB was designed to facilitate the engineering and operational test and evaluation of several classes of high-velocity aerospace and defence systems, from guided air-to-ground ordnance to ground-to-air systems, and from guided artillery shells to intermediate range ballistic missiles. For event documentation and trajectory measurement, OTB used telemetry and a diversity of optical and electromagnetic instrumentation, with very high resolution and very high accuracy. These were integrated via an elaborate system for communications, command and control. The best available technologies were used to achieve the very exacting performance levels required. The facility extended along a coastline of about 60km and up to 30km inland. Remote instrumentation positions further afield provided down-range coverage. OTB would also support the launch of low earth orbit surveillance satellites.

OTB had a complement of 400 personnel and an establishment budget of just over US$400M – equivalent to R15 Billion in 2020 Rand. OTB was acclaimed by foreign experts in the know, rating it the most elegant facility of its kind in the world.

Introducing JJ van Wyk

JJ THE PERSON

JJ has always had an insatiable need to know and to understand – not the trivia, but the fundamentals, the laws of nature and of human nature. His twin desire is to create better quality order, with more synergy and harmony.

At work, JJ is uncompromisingly rational and task-focused. This is balanced by a deep compassion and empathy for others. He realised early on, during the OTB mega-project, that tangible monuments are illusionary. The only important and somewhat enduring legacy that anyone can have is a positive impact on the mind and spirit of others.

He takes particular joy from enabling others to rapidly reach their full potential. He believes in having people reach to achieve ‘stretch targets’, while knowing that their leaders have the wisdom and care to provide a safety net for those who overreach.