He might be South African born and bred, but our New Zealand-based Business Development Manager Johannes Schlechter is really enjoying the Kiwi lifestyle. Get to know Johannes as part of our ongoing series Faces of Spotlight, where we shine a spotlight on the hard-working members of our team.
Johannes Schlechter is an incredibly positive man.
It’s this positivity that brought him to work at Spotlight Reporting’s Wellington office, in search of a better life for himself and his family. His story is nothing short of extraordinary.
Born in South Africa, Johannes spent his early years in Pretoria, before moving to the coastal town of Durban, where he spent the majority of his adult life. But after his daughter was born, he began to worry about the safety and security of his family. He also wanted more work-life balance—the demanding nature of South African work culture was beginning to take its toll.
“The expectation in South Africa is to work very hard,” says Johannes. “The company I previously worked for didn’t have hours, so you could easily do twelve hours a day, and emails right through the night.”
In May of last year, his brother moved to New Zealand, and after talking to him, Johannes decided to follow suit. New Zealand living, he realised, was exactly what he’d been looking for.
“I had some inside information in terms of how nice it is,” says Johannes. “My brother is obviously very happy—he’s still here!”
Johannes’s first step was to scour the internet for a suitable position, which is how he stumbled across an ad for a Business Development Manager (BDM), posted by Spotlight Reporting. Having spent many years as a BDM for a security manufacturing firm, he knew he was a good fit for the job, even though it was in a completely different industry.
“The game changer was a video of Richard [Francis, Spotlight Reporting CEO] I found on LinkedIn,” says Johannes. “It talked about the culture at the company, how it was family-friendly, and I liked that.” He applied for the job, and was accepted to the role not long after.
The next step was to move his family over to a new country. Johannes and his wife rented out their house, sold their furniture, and arrived in New Zealand in January with their 5-year-old daughter, and little else. They stepped off the plane with only six suitcases between them.
Over the next few weeks, the family rented Airbnbs while Johannes got settled in at the office. Transitioning to their new life was difficult, but the trio made the best of it. Their first rental was in Porirua, a long commute away from Spotlight Reporting’s Petone office, but they focused on the positives.
“It was right on the beach,” says Johannes. “We used to watch the sun set beyond the South Island every night.”
“The game changer was a video of Richard I found on LinkedIn. It talked about the culture at the company, how it was family-friendly, and I liked that.”
It took until mid-February for the family to find a permanent home. Their new house in Wellington had no furniture when they moved in, only a mattress on the floor for them to sleep on, but it was a big step in settling into their new lives.
It didn’t take long for his wife to get busy in her new job, or for his young daughter to form a “girl’s club” at her new school. Meanwhile, Johannes had found exactly what he was looking for in the company culture of Spotlight Reporting.
“It was fantastic, everybody was very welcoming, the atmosphere was very friendly, eager to help and share information,” says Johannes. “I found it very very pleasant onboarding.”
For his part, Spotlight Reporting CEO Richard Francis was happy to have found Johannes. “Crossing the world to start a new life is a big challenge, but Johannes has embraced Wellington, Spotlight Reporting, and our clients really quickly,” he says. “Johannes is already a great asset to our team.”
Talking to Johannes about his new life is a lesson in not taking anything for granted.
“We could live in Wellington for ten years, and we still wouldn’t see everything there is to see,” he says cheerfully.
These days, he and his family spend all their spare time walking around the city centre at night, spearfishing at Makara beach out past Johnsonville, exploring local farmers’ markets, and picking their own produce up the Kapiti Coast. Once, Johannes says, they even found a milk vending machine, which poured out fresh, unpasturised milk taken straight from a cow.
“We could live in Wellington for ten years, and we still wouldn’t see everything there is to see."
But while you can take the man out of South Africa, you can’t take South Africa out of the man. Amongst other things, New Zealand’s wildlife just can’t compare.
“Thirty minutes drive out from the city, and you can see the Big Five out in the bush,” says Johannes. (The Big Five are a category of five game animals: lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, elephants, and Cape buffalo.)
He also speaks fondly about braai, the South African style of barbequing over charcoal. His descriptions of the food involved—”first, we start off with a snack, like mushrooms with cheese and garlic, or sweetcorn”—is enough to make any mouth water.
Johannes is proof that moving countries doesn’t mean leaving everything behind. As well as his love of life and food, he’s also brought his language into the Spotlight Reporting office: on occasion, he and other team members from South Africa speak Afrikaans, delighting all eavesdroppers at nearby desks.
Spotlight Reporting is immensely proud to be a global company, and it's our people who make us such a vibrant, dynamic company to work for. Thank you Johannes, to you and your family, for making the journey to join the Spotlight Family.