Meet Our Team: Michael Cloete

Hello from Hyphen

We caught up with Hyphen’s graduate intern on the environmental team, Michael Cloete, who tells us about his involvement in non-profit organisations, what he enjoys most about his job and his love of rally cars.


Can you tell us about your role at Hyphen and what you do day to day?

My role at Hyphen is to work closely with the environmental workstream, supporting various aspects of project development and ensuring compliance with Namibia’s environmental regulations and processes. For example, I research the impact of our projects on the environment and review specialist environment assessment reports.

My role also involves assisting the technical team with infrastructure planning and geographic information system (GIS) management, as well as supporting the environmental team with project costs, budgeting and invoicing reviews.

What was your first ever job?

During my high school years, I worked two jobs: one at a car wash, helping manage stock, money and vehicles, and another at my family-owned takeaway shop, Namakwa Take Away, which sadly closed two years after the Covid-19 pandemic.

I then spent a brief period during the university holidays working as a messenger for a conveyancing firm Cronje and Co before I graduated and became an intern at GCS Water and Environmental Engineering in Windhoek. I was then a junior environmental practitioner and environmental control officer at Environmental Compliance Consultancy for a year before taking on the Hyphen role.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I’m really enjoying working on this exciting project, which will have a positive impact on the socio-economic development of Namibia. Having an impact that’s tangible and positive really helps me feel fulfilled and motivated in my work, and I like pursuing new challenges.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in renewable energy?

Immerse yourself in the industry by reading up on current thinking, and keep abreast of the latest technological developments and decarbonisation techniques. When you proactively seek out new information, you can apply your learnings in your day-to-day life. Keeping track of international standards is important too. I like to keep ahead of the curve and on top of important matters that affect my work, like planning legislation.

I‘d also say get involved in organisations that help you professionally. I’ve been involved with two environmentally focused non-profit organisations in Namibia since my final year of university – the Namibian Hydrogeological Association and the Environmental Assessment Professional’s Association of Namibia. I’m a registered environmental assessment practitioner with the latter. Being involved in these types of organisations has helped me network and learn from industry experts.

Can you share an interesting fact about yourself?

I can play a couple of instruments and I love all genres of music, whether that be classical, R&B or house. Growing up, I used to listen to my dad’s funk, R&B and soul ballads on long road trips – real classics like the Jackson 5 or Earth Wind and Fire. I’m a strong believer in what Friedrich Nietzsche stated – “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Rally cars and V8 dragsters are another infatuation of mine – in an alternate universe I would be a racing car driver. The noise and vibrations from the engine are tremendous, and the feeling you get from the high speeds is amazing. You’re filled with adrenaline but, at the same time, the world feels like it’s at a standstill.

When you’re not at work, what do you like to do?

I like to keep active and fit. At least three or four times a week I go for a 4-8km jog and bring along my dog Milo, a very energetic Belgian Malinois. On weekends, my partner and I soak in the wilderness with our long hikes.

I also like to engage my creative side, spending some of my spare time creating video games or animation series based on Namibian wildlife. Using programs like Unity and blender 3D, I’ve created some fun animations involving mischievous baboons.

What are you most excited about for the future of the renewable industry in Namibia?

Namibia is an emerging and dynamic market, and holds the potential to lead Africa’s renewable energy industry. The abundance of natural resources has already made it a hotspot for foreign investment, and witnessing the positive transformation of the country and our society is incredibly exciting.

Seeing the Harambee Prosperity Plan unfolding to benefit Namibian citizens is remarkable and very uplifting.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Don’t compare your progress with others – we all have our own path and own timeline of achievements.