In the heart of Kimberley, South Africa, the De Beers Sightholder Sales facility has fourteen floors, and each one is dedicated to a specific process. On the seventh floor, we meet Jessica Khonkhobe, who recently joined the company.
After enrolling in a nine-month long learning programme, Jessica gained a permanent role. In order to develop her expertise, Jessica spent three months at the Diamond Academy, learning about diamonds before beginning to work with them. She now sorts diamonds using specialist tools.
"I love sorting diamonds because you don't know what you are going to see. It’s fascinating and exciting," she says.
The De Beers Group encourages employees to grow their potential, providing additional training and career opportunities during their time with the company. Jessica hopes to leverage her diamond expertise and become a business analyst.
Chantelle Webb is Jessica’s manager. She joined the De Beers Group as a sorter in 2001. After six years, she joined the Diamond Academy, where she worked as an instructor for four years. While at the Academy, she pursued additional courses and further developed her career. Her work has taken her to London and Botswana, providing training to young sorters. She was granted a scholarship to pursue her studies and today has responsibility for a team of 31 sorters, operators and diamond handlers.
Sonja Van Rooyen is the Production Standards Manager at the Kimberley Diamond Sorting Facility. She grew up in Kimberley, South Africa. "Studying was not natural to me, but the mining industry was. When I saw De Beers advertising for sorters, I decided to see what they offered,” she recalls.
Sonja has now worked for the De Beers Group for more than thirty years. With a warm and empathic personality, Sonja naturally evolved towards a mentorship role; but like Jessica, she started her journey as a diamond sorter. Her role is now focused on making the sorting process more efficient.
Her career at De Beers has taken her around the world. “I did a job swap with someone in our London office, and I really cherished my time there. Prior to London, I spent three years in Namibia, and I have also spent some time in Botswana. In 2003, I spent a fascinating week in Antwerp."
Sonja says she is also grateful for the great healthcare system that the De Beers Group has given her.
“We’ve got some of the best medical benefits in South Africa, and when I got a serious illness in 2014, the company was incredibly supportive.”
Sonja says the development of Kimberley and the local economy has been closely linked with mining. “When I was a child, for example, De Beers helped the primary school I attended to develop a sports field and build a swimming pool,” she remembers.
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