National Military Appreciation Month is recognised and celebrated annually in May and before it draws to a close, Saab Grintek Defence (Saab) celebrates Strini Naidoo, who previously served the South African Force (SAAF) as a Senior Aircraft Engineer for 14 years.
Naidoo is the business development and marketing executive for the Electronic Warfare (EW) market area at Saab. His role entails managing customer service and expanding business development by showcasing innovative products or solutions.
Born and bred in Chatsworth in Durban, Strini began his career as a qualified aircraft technician in 2005, and then proceeded to complete an aircraft maintenance engineers’ licence, which is recognised by the Civil Aviation Authority.
During his time in the SAAF, he completed a project management diploma, followed by a B. Tech (Honours) in Business Management, both through the Durban University of Technology.
Strini believes that the experience he gained at the military of working in groups, prepared him for the corporate world. This provided a solid foundation for teamwork and taking pride in one’s work – traits critical to the success of his team and business overall at Saab.
We caught up with Strini to get to know him a little better:
Q: What do you enjoy the most about your role?
A: I enjoy travelling and meeting a lot of different people. A strong driver for me is getting to understand customer expectations and finding creative solutions for their unique situations.
Customers have different initiatives and trying to meet their expectations is a difficult task because everything must be customised, not off-the shelf. But, that is what makes the job so interesting and exciting. I also enjoy that fact the I have a voice in business strategy, which is rare in the defence industry.
Q: How do you feel your military career has equipped you for success in your current environment?
A: Our modern business culture encourages people to seek out individual success and glory. However, the military instils a true sense of working as a team. When you enter the military, you are thrown into the deep end and you must learn to swim – you soon learn that you have to rely on your teammates for survival. It also teaches patience – we often see people come to Saab Grintek Defence as graduates already eyeing top management positions. Military people know that there are no shortcuts and that every step in the journey is important.
Q: What is your fondest memory of being in the SAAF?
A: My fondest memory was when I saw the Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela for the first time in Durban. He was exiting the Atlas Oryx helicopter, when he smiled and greeted everyone by waving his hand. This moment was so powerful as you could feel his aura transcending through the air. He wasn’t the President at the time, but all of us cheered and raised our hands as well.
I also remember being on duty during the 2010 World Cup and hearing the roar of the Gripen and Hawks flying through the Cape Town stadium while the crowd was cheering as they saw these modern flying machines. Having to experience this while flying in the Atlas Oryx helicopter over the fan parks along the beachfront, was truly incredible.
Q: What does Military appreciation month mean to you?
A: Military Appreciation Month for me is about family and knowing that the men and women you serve with, will always be there in your hour of need. It is not just the arm of service you belong to that connects us all as one unified force, but also the shared command values, ethics, and culture. I’m grateful for the 14 years of service I shared with my team at SAAF, and very proud to call them my brothers and sisters.