A family man and a person of great influence

Sven Thieme, the executive chairman of the O&L Group, has years of experience in the corporate world and values the importance of treating everyone with respect.

04 December 2020 | People

MONIQUE ADAMS



Like Eleanor Roosevelt said: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." So don’t stop dreaming and just do it!” says Sven Thieme, executive chairman of the O&L Group.

Born in Okahandja in 1968, Thieme spent his early years on his parents’ farm until he started school at Okahandja Primary School.

“My happy childhood memories have ingrained in me a deep passion for nature, animals and outdoor activities and the wish to sustain our beautiful environment for generations to some,” he says.

Thieme then moved to Windhoek, where he attended the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule Windhoek (DHPS) and stayed in the school’s hostel. Thieme enjoyed every single day of school, and subjects like mathematics and accountancy fascinated him from an early age.

After matriculating in 1986, he studied at the University of Cape Town, where he graduated in 1991. He began his career as auditor at Deloitte & Touche in Cape Town, where he completed his Articles before moving to Luxemburg from 1994 to 1998.

As the executive chairman of the O&L Group he makes it his daily goal to stay on top of everything that happens within the Group. The O&L Group portfolio includes 13 operations, each in its own field and spread across the country, with some even extending beyond Namibia’s borders.

“While O&L’s excellent leadership team, under the guiding light and leadership of CEO Hendrik (Wessie) van der Westhuizen oversees the day-to-day operations, I am privileged and inspired to be involved in every decision making process,” he says.

With his esteemed position in the O&L Group, Thieme knows that his grandfather and great-grandfather left this country a legacy that deserves to be maintained and cultivated well into the future and for the benefit of every single Namibian.

“Stepping into their footprints has not been easy, but they have instilled in us the values of family, trust, honesty and have built O&L on those foundations.

“I rely on my extensive knowledge gained from rich experiences during the past two and a half decades of my career. In fact, those instilled values still guide us every day and we have fared well on them, always,” Thieme says.

The year 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, including the O&L Group, which has also been greatly impacted by the pandemic and the imposed restrictions, as they are very reliant on the tourism, retail and beverage industries.

“I must say though that being in this together has strengthened us, reminded us that ‘Nothing is Impossible’ and brought us even closer together. It has widened our horizons of thinking, discovering new opportunities and exploring additional ventures. This, indeed, has been challenging, but at the same time extremely rewarding,” Thieme says.

He believes that leadership is an enormous responsibility that should never be taken lightly. Simultaneously, it is also an opportunity one should take pride in and fulfil to one’s best abilities. When it comes to long-term goals, he tries to never get disheartened by obstacles, but rather views them as opportunities that need to be tackled, and solved, head-on.

Above all, he refuses to be negative by reminding himself regularly of his goals - short, medium and long-term - as well as recognising the stepping stones to attaining them as they present themselves. This helps him to stay on track and actually enjoy the journey.

Above all, he is a family man who tries to spend as much quality time as possible with his wife and children. On weekends away, they enjoy camping, fishing and hiking. During their spare time they cook up a storm and experiment with various cuisines and new tastes.

Thieme is a self-proclaimed football fanatic and a Ramblers supporter. He also has a musical side and enjoys dancing and playing the piano. Travelling is his biggest hobby and he hopes to travel to many more exciting places.

One of the things he advises aspiring entrepreneurs is: “If you can dream it, you can do it! Then lead like you would like to be led. Finally, make it your own and live accordingly.

“I have made it my personal purpose to give life to people and the growth, success and happiness I witness every day in the O&L Group family, and the lives they directly or indirectly impact and enhance, fills me with a deep sense of gratitude and achievement.”

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