Hard work, dedication, and perseverance

Passion for project management and entrepreneurship
If Nerson Tjelos teaches us anything, it's to dream big and work hard to make those ambitions come true.
Jamie-Lee Loss
Nerson Tjelos is a registered Earth scientist and, in addition, holds qualifications in project management and entrepreneurship. Tjelos is currently pursuing two more postgraduate qualifications.

He has founded and led several natural resources discovery and project management consulting firms in the last eight years. The teams he led consisted of geologists, environmental consultants, software developers and project managers. He provides guidance in terms of business growth and client relations.

He highlights that business is like war – fun when you are the one attacking but very uncomfortable when the enemy has you cornered. He adds that the position requires someone who is faithful and persistent. "Always remember, the role of the CEO is to enable people to excel," he said.

Take the lead

He said at times he has been frustrated, especially after his graduation, when the market offered few opportunities.

Employers asked for five or more years of experience and eventually he got tired of being told by society that to become valuable in the marketplace as a graduate geoscientist, he must have worked for that amount of years.

They might have had a point, he said, but he was prepared to offer something not from school or from a previous employer.

He was prepared to work for more than eight hours at no extra fee.

And yet he discovered that he cannot change people’s opinions about recent graduates; he can only show them what some graduates are made of.

Accomplishments:

• Best Geology and Environmental Services in Namibia by BUILD, UK

• African Youth of the Year Award Nomination, 2020

• Top 100 Most Influential Young Africans nomination, 2020

• Top 100 Most Influential Young Africans nomination, 2019

• Emerging Entrepreneur of the year 2017: Namibian Business Hall of Fame

• Climate Reality Leader awarded by Former US Vice President Al Gore, USA, 2018

• Top 10 Total Start Upper of the Year Challenge (2019)

• Top 10 Development Bank of Namibia Innovation Award, 2018

• Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Training Programme Graduate, 2018

• Southern Africa Startup Awards Finalist – Water Management Solutions, 2018

• Top 100 Young Brightest Minds (BYM) in Africa: awarded in South Africa

• Namibia Business Start-up of the year finalist 2017: SANLAM in collaboration with Namibia Business Innovation

Future goals

Tjelos plans to retire in six years. Before retirement, he plans to have the tallest office building in the city and at least 54 offices in other parts of the continent.

He adds that his motivation in life is that people may come from different backgrounds and live in different parts of the world, but they all share the same ambitions and visions. "What is needed today is to ensure physical and social impacts in people’s lives by establishing businesses that offer true value. This is exactly why we are taking our services to communities, " said Tjelos.

Tjelos highlights that there are many things to be proud of. Their young scientists have proven society wrong on the issue of experience; they have led successful projects in all 14 regions and beyond. "We have also grown to attract renowned global organisations for project collaboration. Today we have offered internships to students and graduates, thus promoting skills transfer," said Tjelos.

Their consultants offer free training to individuals and institutions in different parts of the country to equip them with critical information in water management, mineral exploration and mining, environmental safety, climate change, and business management.

He advises the youth by saying that inspiration is not good enough. Get inspired, but what is important is to start. Put in the work, and activities will give you results. Without results, forget about the lifestyle you are chasing as an entrepreneur.

Daily routine in the office:

30% in the future (imagination)

30% engaging clients, stakeholders, and team members

40% being technical

20 hours, every day, Monday to Sunday

Four fun facts about Tjelos:

I have one close friend, my speaker for audiobooks.

I don't go to parties; I've been saying this for years, but I still get invited.

I enjoy giving entrepreneurship tips to kids.

I have been to all the towns and settlements in Namibia thanks to our consulting firms.

Other than being in the bush exploring for natural resources and solving community problems, Tjelos has no other hobbies. "Nature has all the answers to society's problems."

He adds that he would tell his younger self that you can whine, whine and whine, but the world does not care; stand up and go do things for yourself.

Lastly, he reminds the youth to work as Africa is waiting for solutions. "If you are different, you will stand out."