Keeping Hold of Talent

Read on for a profile of Arthur Bosch, Head of Business Administration and based in South Africa

How long have you been working for Wings and what made you join the company?
I’ve been here for ten and a half years. Joining Wings was quite unplanned, and there’s a funny story to it… I had just ended a contract with a performing arts theatre, where I was a frontline entertainer, and wanted to settle in something more permanent in the corporate office space. While meeting with my recruiter, who was preparing me for a corporate interview the next day, her manager walked in and stopped the meeting. He wanted me to immediately “go across the road to an interview with a very important client,” he said. He didn’t tell me anything about the role or the company – just that I literally needed to go and “be myself”.

Thirty minutes later I was in a meeting with Wings’ HR Team Leader, who wasn’t really sure why I had been sent to see her. She said, “I don’t have a vacancy for a singer or dancer.” I was young (and admittedly quite cheeky) back then, and jokingly told her off. I asked her why she hadn’t prepared for a professional interview, and told her that she clearly had a need for my organisational skills (which I was happy to demonstrate at her earliest convenience!) Long story short, I started a few days later as the Executive Assistant to Wings’ CEO. Only later was I told that they were recruiting for a candidate with a strong personality with organisational skills, who would fit the fast-paced demands of that office. Ten and a half years on, via several other positions and promotions, I still confidently call this dynamic company my home.

How has the company changed over the years?
I would say that we have come of age. Wings’ vision and purpose has always been big and ambitious, some might even say larger than life. That is exactly what makes the company such an attractive employer. We have expanded into many new global locations and have grown and learned from each acquisition.

We are very determined and relentless in every project we take on, and I cannot think of one day that I have ever been bored at work! Sure, we have had some tough challenges to overcome, but that is where we get to leverage off the exceptional skillsets of our talented colleagues

Describe your current responsibilities at the company.
My current position as Head of Business Administration covers a few different areas. With the support of my extraordinary staff and line managers, I am ultimately responsible for representing and managing the Human Resources, Quality Assurance, Learning & Development, Travel Risk and Knowledge Management portfolios companywide. I am further responsible for coordinating several important global projects, such as certification and compliance to ISO 9001, GDPR, PCI, DSS, B-BBEE (RSA) and others, which all require significant collaboration across borders and divisions.

What are the biggest challenges of your job?
In my areas of responsibility, the focus is on the ‘people’ disciplines. There’s a natural tendency to assume that we understand and know people, but I must accept that people are unpredictable and driven by different agendas. It is hard work to continuously inspire people to change their mindsets and to refocus their energies to ensure business continuity. You can only truly get the best out of talented people when you engage with them on an individual level, speaking to their personal needs and values

How has your job changed/evolved as the company has grown?
One of my biggest achievements is that I’ve grown with the company, in the truest sense. My original job was being an EA – not a simple job, and certainly a valuable one, but since then I’ve grown to being a QA Analyst, to being a department head, to being a global division manager with responsibilities outside of South Africa. I’d like to be humble with this, but still… not bad for an actor with ambition, is it?

How many employees are you responsible for in your capacity as Quality/Learning/Development/HR?
Directly – lucky number 13. If I had to be cheeky, I’d argue that I’m indirectly responsible for everyone, given my portfolio.

How many training programmes do you run at any one time?
We are very excited that we have now moved into the eLearning space. This platform gives us the ability to have countless training interventions running concurrently, whether scheduled for groups or at the pace of the individual employee. Our repository of training modules is a healthy mix of relevant industry training content available in the market, and Wings-specific content that is produced by our in-house subject matter experts across the globe.

Employee wellbeing seems to be a buzzword in the world of work these days. What does it mean for employees at Wings?
Employee wellbeing is a buzzword – that’s exactly the right term. In all honesty, it isn’t a new concept – we’ve focused on the wellbeing of our Wings colleagues long before it became the popular thing to write about in HR magazines and online articles. Our emphasis has traditionally been on the comforts of working within the company at our larger branches – be it having an in-house canteen, play areas or even a crèche – but as we’ve grown globally, we’ve started to focus on quality-of-life changes that allow greater freedom outside of work, such as flexible working, benefits that can be customised according to employee needs, like improved retirement benefits and risk cover, and targeted career training and mentoring.

What part of your role gives you the most satisfaction?
Simple answer – the variety. What I do in my job has purpose, value and meaning. These are important elements for me and give me the opportunity to expand my experience daily. Every day, while I get ready for work in the morning, I actively and consciously choose to have the right attitude about the tasks that I am responsible for. This helps me to get on with it and to remain positive about the end goal.

What is Wings’ annual employee retention figure?
Even though the travel industry is innately resourced by younger people who are on the move, our average global tenure per staff member is just under five years, with around 20% of staff actually being in the Wings family for over ten years. Since we are primarily interested in talented people, we accept that our staff members are quite attractive to the recruitment market, with around 8% staff turnover annually in some markets. Interestingly though, we have between 10-15% of staff who have left our employ, returning to Wings after a period. The majority of those returning staff declare that they missed the structured manner in which Wings operates.

How do you maintain and nurture the Wings’ talent pool?
This is a big question, and there are a lot of different nuances to talent retention. While I could talk about coaching and mentoring programmes, having a global footprint (with all the benefits that offers ambitious staff), or even just our rewards and recognition programmes, my view is quite simple – the key is relationship building. People and relationships drive our business. People don’t buy from companies – they buy from the people who represent those companies. The same is then true internally: we need to constantly choose to build interdependent and professional relationships with our colleagues. Talented people know this themselves already, even if it isn’t something they consciously think about – they firstly expect a lot from themselves, and therefore continue to reinvest in their personal brand. Their strength rests within the knowledge that they need to work hard before they can play hard. Keeping each other grounded and aware of the relevance and importance of our individual roles creates healthy dependencies and collaboration.

Do you manage to switch off when you leave the office behind? Do you have any interesting hobbies/pastimes?
I make that conscious choice each day. I cannot expect my family and friends to remain strong supporters of my career, if I am constantly focused on the demands of my work life. I am a nature-nut – I spend as much time as possible out and about exploring my surroundings with family and friends. This keeps me grounded. And of course reading, movies, theatre, sports, gardening and cooking definitely feature in the list of my favourite leisure activities.

To find out more about our Business Administration department, please contact

Back to the Blog