After a short stint in Namibia, pharmacist Jaco Venter is back in town and has returned to the Mopani family once more! Only this time, as our Dispensary & Pharmacist Executive.
“I was with Mopani Pharmacy for the better part of 16 years before we left to go to Namibia. It was a wonderful experience, but the process of getting a work permit proved to be more stress than it’s worth”, said Jaco.
After returning to South Africa, Jaco, and his wife Annelie and two children moved to Tzaneen in 2017.
“Another huge factor was that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a child we lost my brother, Maarten, to cancer at a very young age, the chemo was a different devil in those days. Therefore, my mother opted out of treatment. Once back in SA we expected again and I explained to my mother that medicine has evolved immensely. She became excited, it was as though we breathed new life into her. She started treatment and is now officially cancer free”, Jaco said, smiling from ear to ear.
Rob Gibbs, Mopani Pharmacy CEO heard of Jaco’s return to South Africa and called him. “Mr Gibbs phoned me last year. Then again in January this year, however, COVID 19 happened and everything was on hold for a while. Once the dust settled, Mr Gibbs offered me an opportunity to join Mopani again.
The family man
For the moment, Annelie and their children Anjè aged 11, A.J. aged 8 and M.J. (named after Jaco’s late brother Maarten) aged 2, are still in Tzaneen.
“We are hopeful that they can move here soon I miss them a lot! My wife was more excited about moving back here than I, because her mother stays in Whiteriver. We both love Nelspruit, and the excitement and bustling of the growing city – even though it still has the vibe of a small town where everyone knows each other.”
Funny enough, Jaco met Annelie at Mopani Pharmacy years ago, the two were like two doves in the Mopani tree; “She was a floor sales assistant and I was a young pharmacist. Soon she was promoted and trained to work at the OTC counter. I thought she was the prettiest person inside and out in the store and I never told her! At a teambuilding weekend at a place called Misty Mountain, a colleague realised we both liked each other and told me to talk to her. I finally told her, that I thought she is just SO COOL! Needless to say, we got married on 2 February 2002.”
As a dispensary executive, it is Jaco’s job to oversee all the pharmacists and assistants in the dispensaries of our four stores.
“I plan on visiting each store and working in each dispensary’s often. Almost like that Undercover Boss show, except, everyone knows me! The idea is that, I will be able to see how each store operates, how many patients they serve and what their challenges are. I will then be able to motivate them, with a realistic view of what is achievable” Jaco explained.
Jaco has an inquisitive mind and a heart for people; “A retail shopper knows what they want and what they need it for, they even have preferred brands. But a “patient” often does not know exactly what is wrong, how to treat it, or which product is the best. That is why we are here; for example, after a brief chat we offer a Sugar free cough syrup. People would ask; why or how did you now that? Because, it is my job to know that you are a diabetic.”
Babies are a fun addition to the job for Jaco, “You think you know and have seen it all! Then there are babies… They take everything you have learned in a book and everything you have practiced to the next level, and we learn so much from them.”
Ultimately, safety is the biggest priority for Jaco, “we need to be safe with our staff, and our patients, and not make mistakes. I want to ensure that safety is a top priority. Everyone asks how we are able to read a doctor’s handwriting; well, we have methods and so on, but to be honest, if there is a flicker of doubt, we stop and call them!” Team work and access to several colleague’s really help!
How to balance it all
“You need to be able to manage your work-home-life-balance, it’s easier said than done. We must just keep trying to take off your work hat, put on the father, husband and friend hats when the day is over! The community sometimes places us upon a pedestal, forgetting that we too, are only human. Making time to just be your own true humble self, keeps you grounded”, he said.
The legacy of Jaco
He hopes to not only grow the team but create an overall sense of job and customer satisfaction, “You asked me about my five year goal but, I honestly hope to achieve it sooner. If everyone working with me, or under me, as well as all the customers that are served in my time here are happy, then I will have achieved what I set out to, as a start. A business has an asset registry. Often we forget; that employees are the most valuable asset of them all, and they all walk out the door at the end of the day. It is my job to ensure that they want to come back in the morning!”
Jaco lives by two mottos, if you want to get to the top, you need to help others get there first. The second a quote from Steven Covey to Live, to love and to leave a legacy!
Both appear to be working in his favour, since his legacy is what brought him back to us in the first place.
Welcome back Jaco, we can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve!