Pasta lady feeds the nation
One of the women behind the beloved staple of households across the country, Talia von Maltzahn, Operations Manager at Namib Mills, member of Team Namibia has been a key driving force in the local pasta industry growing from strength to strength.
With experience both overseas and at Coca-Cola Namibia under her belt, Von Maltzahn joined Namib Mills as Production Manager in 2013 and was promoted to Operations Manager for Pasta three years later. Since joining the company, it has been her ongoing pursuit to ensure the continuous improvement of quality standards and production efficiency of operations.
More recently, she was tasked with leading the team responsible for expanding Namib Mills’ production capacity, by first investigating the feasibility of the progressive project, and then managing its execution.
Given that the local market was relatively saturated with pasta products, Namib Mills needed to find opportunities that would give them a competitive edge.
According to Von Maltzahn, “More markets had to be pursued and that market expansion would require new production installations to increase production capacity, as well as product and packaging adaptations, where necessary, to suit the needs and preferences of those new markets.
“Of course, all these efforts would have been futile had the sales and marketing department not been doing such an excellent job in unlocking new markets for our products. The entire project team have really made this production expansion a success.” The 2019/2020 period saw Namib Mills produce over 28 000 tonnes of pasta for their own brands such as Pasta Polana, as well as contract production, with about half of that amount being sold to export markets. These production volumes illustrate the advancements made by the company when compared to the 2 500 tonnes of pasta produced in 2001/2002 when pasta production first commenced, and the 80 tonnes that comprised the company’s first export sales in the 2013/2014 production period.
Working in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry in Namibia, Von Maltzahn has firmly claimed her seat at the table. Her background in industrial engineering, diligent nature and analytical mind all contributed to her being a formidable force that could not go unnoticed. Von Maltzahn: “While it can be daunting at times, if you do your job well and professionally, the playing field becomes equal as your skills speak for themselves.” Founder of Namib Mills, Pieter van Niekerk Snr., expressed his appreciation for the contributions Talia and the other women at Namib Mills make, stating, “Our women in leadership make us extremely proud by breaking the stereotype that the manufacturing industry is a man’s world. They play an indispensable role in our success story.”
Despite being behind some of the Namib Mills’ greatest achievements, Von Maltzahn attributes the company’s success to years of accumulated effort and dedication, stating, “I just took over from where others pioneered, including the Operations Manager before me, Frans Meyer, who extended his mentorship to me. While I cannot claim any credit for what Pasta Polana means to Namibians, I am very proud to contribute to our country’s food security by being a part of the Namib Mills family, and living our motto of “feeding the nation”.