Hostage drama at the HR Indaba

In a session moderated by Willem Gouws, delegates got a sneak peek into InsideRisk's unique leadership programme.

Attendees of the inaugural HR Indaba, which was hosted at the Sandton Convention Centre, got a glimpse into InsideRisk’s unique leadership programme whereby delegates where put through a re-enactment of a hostage scenario.  Participants explored the story of the Swiss Executive J.P. Mottu who, in 1988, received a call from kidnappers that had taken one of his employees in Columbia. Isabelle, who had been deployed to fix a dam near the city Medellin, had been kidnapped and it was J.P that had to make life-or-death decisions on whether to pay the ransom from the company’s coffers or let Isabelle be killed. 



“Imagine sitting in your office and receiving a phone call and you're notified that one of your employees has been kidnapped.” @CHROSouthAfrica said Willem Gouws, country leader for InsideRisk South Africa. Willem led delegates through the interactive experience, which incorporates film, multimedia, and live moderation, challenging them to consider what they would have done in the same scenario.  

Said Willem:

“One the one end of the spectrum you have a marxist-leninist revolutionary group, which is the Swiss government that does not want to be involved in negotiating with these criminals and, on the other, you have the kidnappers who are operating during a very violent time in which Pablo Escobar and the drug cartel of Medellin were in their peak. Also, you have Columbian government, which at the time was corrupt to the bone.”

Meanwhile, J.P's company was in a situation where Columbia would soon represent 7 percent of total turnover but, at that moment, was in dire financial straits. It dad been running at a loss for three prior during which it had made a loss of $2 million and, in order to navigate the challenging business climate, the board had already resolved to reduce headcount by 300. At the time of the kidnapping, the company has R3.5 million in cash reserves, which was just enough to honour their creditors and suppliers for a nine-month period. That was the situation J.P was when he went to visit Isabelle’s family to give an update on how they, as her employers, where going to help. 

“Can you set a price on somebody’s life?” questioned Willem, who went on to take delegates through an intriguing journey that forces executives to take a deep look at their kind of leaders that they are and assess their appetite for risk.