In His Own Words: Getting to Know Anthonie “Rassie” Erasmus

Erasmus is a project manager for Expeditionary Support & Stabilization – AFRICAP. The Native South African has been with PAE for 14 years. 

What do you want people to know about PAE?

“I think one of the biggest things about PAE is people. Especially in Africa -- our whole team has been there a long time. We trust each other, and we work well together.

“With people, there’s always the challenges. The more people in your organization, the more issues you can have. But that makes it all the more interesting. In Darfur, we were 36 different nationalities. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we had 24 different nationalities -- 197 people of 24 different nationalities. That makes it interesting: working with all these different people, understanding their cultures, understand how they think, how they wake up in the morning, and go to sleep at night because we are all in the field -- What makes them tick? Those things will help you understand how to run your program. And that is what PAE has always been about.”

What’s your focus outside of work?

“Photography -- that is my way to break away. I started photography many years ago, as a small hobby, but since I started traveling with PAE, I use it more. Because one of the things you can find in any of the places to take pictures of is birds and insects ... I can sit an hour, two hours, taking pictures. It takes your brain away from anything else you are doing. And pictures are color! And it keeps memory! … I just enjoy photography a little more than the normal person. It’s something I can do on my own.”

ON CAREERS

“Everybody decides their own life. Part of that with PAE is just showing what you can do and working long hours. Take on every challenge. Don’t stand back from anything. And I think that leadership saw that (with me): I don’t stand back from anything and you can send me any place… I don’t work to impress people, I work to impress myself, because if I’m impressed, people around me will like what I am doing because I am not easy to be impressed. It’s just how it works! If you work hard to impress yourself, and you are happy with what you are doing, people around you will be happy.”

“I’m a very positive person. I don’t really get tired easily. As long as there is adrenaline pushing, I can go more. I always see the positive before the negative.  A lot of people I work with see, ‘Oh this could go wrong.’ I see, ‘Oh this could go right.’ ... I wake up and everything is RIGHT. I wake up in the morning and I’m breathing; that’s a good day.” 

“People should have an open mind. The first thing I teach anyone I work with; you never say: ‘I can’t do it.’ Or ‘I don’t know.’ If you don’t know, ‘I will find out.’ If you don’t know something, there is always a way of finding out; getting to the next step.”