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From Namibia to Switzerland: Tarohole’s mission for growth

To create value beyond wealth, Julius Baer proudly collaborated for the fourth time with B360. This organisation coordinates internships to promote the exchange of knowledge and experience between companies in Europe and top students from Southern Africa. Tarohole is one such student who shares with wisdom and clarity her experiences, challenges, and dreams for her future and for Namibia.

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Speaking to Tarohole, you get the impression you are sitting in front of a tiny but ever so effulgent version of the sun. Her enthusiasm is palpable. And just like the sun takes care of growth under our skies, Tarohole is on a mission to grow and help grow. Her name, Tarohole, means ‘look at love’, and it is her desire to embody this meaning and imbibe all she does with love. 

Born in the northern part of Namibia at the Oshakati state hospital, toddler Tarohole was raised between her maternal grandparents in the village of Onangodhi and her paternal grandparents in the town of Okatana. But for most of her young life, Tarohole lived with her mother in the diamond-mining town Oranjemund in the south of Namibia. 

Now she resides in Windhoek, where she currently attends university. She is a third-year Bachelor of Economics student at the Namibia University of Science and Technology. 

Opportunity seldom knocks twice

In Tarohole’s case, it did. What first may have seemed like a mischance, when not accepted to the B360 programme the first time she applied, proved to be a blessing in disguise. Because right after, and upon the suggestion of her lecturer, Tarohole opted for the debate team. This was a great exercise to overcome her discomfort of having to speak in front of people. So, when – just a month later – Tarohole was offered an internship with the B360 programme, she was well prepared to do a lot more talking, as she would soon discover.

The element of surprise

Tarohole had a snowy welcome to Switzerland in February 2022. “It was the first time I had seen so much snow. We went immediately outside, and it was amazing!” While Tarohole did visit the UK before and thought Switzerland might be somewhat similar, she quickly realised: “I got here, and it was completely different.” Meeting her host parents for the first time made her quite nervous: “I did not know what to do. I am a very shy person.” But all went smoothly. She was fascinated by the Swiss public transport and electricity system and the cleanliness and discipline of dog owners tidying up after their dogs. “I remember doing research about Switzerland. I never really searched pictures. I just wanted to be surprised. The element of surprise makes everything interesting,” she smiles.

A creative space

When Tarohole stepped into the office, she was mesmerised by all the art and how colourful the office space was. “It felt very homely. You feel like you can actually be creative in this space,” she says. This was Tarohole’s first-ever work experience. So, you can imagine how thrilled she was to see her picture up on the wall next to the other employees and her excitement to see her name on her desk, her telephone, and her screen when logging in. “I felt very welcome,” she beams with delight.

Everything is related to economics

Initially, joining HR in the Julius Baer Academy felt awkward. It wasn’t related to the field of her studies. Instead, she believed she needed to precisely apply what she had learned in her university courses. In the beginning, this posed a challenge for Tarohole, but she quickly realised how important people development is for all areas of the bank. “Until then, I didn’t realise that everything, in the end, is related to economics,” she concludes.

All roads lead to Rome

Her exposure to various people and encouragement to ask questions assisted Tarohole with deliberating over where her interests lie and what she envisions herself doing in the future. “Everyone was so friendly and forthcoming,” says Tarohole with a radiant smile. Hence, anytime she had introduction meetings with someone, she asked about their professional journeys, realising that “paths and opportunities to a particular job are limitless”.

Ultimately, this brought her to express her interest in risk management. Tarohole’s Team Head, Dominique, immediately picked up on this and arranged a two-day session in the Internal Audit department and a one-day session with the Financial Intelligence unit. “She actually set this up for me, and I really appreciated that,” she says.

Never a dull moment

During her three-month internship at the Bank, Tarohole engaged in a range of tasks on a day-to-day basis. She worked as a learning and development coordinator by assisting her seven team members with tasks regarding all staff development, facility management, onboarding, and e-learning processes. In addition, Tarohole ensured that all new and existing employees were provided with mandatory trainings and could familiarise themselves with the various staff offerings to aid their personal and professional development.

Despite being an economics student, none of these tasks dismayed her. On the contrary, she viewed them as opportunities to grow professionally. “Tasks varied every day,” she says with great enthusiasm. “It is here where I was able to cement my future career goals as a result of exposure to the fundamentals of the banking industry and through various introduction meetings with other professionals.”

Returning home with a wave of emotions

“I’ve really integrated well into Swiss life, at Julius Baer, and with my host family. I feel like a real Swiss now,” she giggles. Tarohole embraced the Swiss lifestyle wholeheartedly – including cheese dishes like Raclette. Nevertheless, she misses her family and friends, Maltese puppy ‘Gandalf’, playing hockey with her team, and Namibian food —particularly Kapana1 and Biltong2.

Tarohole is ready to go back: “I am still young. I want to take my time and finish my degrees and, hopefully, work someday for the Bank of Namibia.” Her goal is to build trust in the Namibian economy through risk management strategies within the banking system.

The challenges

Tarohole was not accustomed to being constantly asked where she was from, what she did, what she liked, etc. This was way out of her comfort zone. “I’m not used to talking so much, especially not about myself,” she laughs.

Also, “balancing university work and ‘work work’,” she says. To not have to extend her degree by a year, Tarohole was determined to do both the B360 programme and her semester modules, which proved to be harder than expected.

But a fun challenge was Tarohole’s first day ever on skis in Flims. “I fell a lot! So on the second day, I was determined not to fall, and I didn’t,” she rejoices, “​until I got overly confident and looked at the scenery,” she laughs.

We do not doubt that Tarohole will pour her heart and soul into accomplishing her goal with love and compassion, helping others grow along with her.

1 Namibian street food made of grilled meat, typically beef

2 Namibian dry-meat snack

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