In the late 1960’s, songwriters Bobby Scott and Bob Russell collaborated to write the ballad “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” The song about helping others would eventually become a worldwide hit for the English rock band, The Hollies, as well as Neil Diamond. The ballad’s key phrase was originally borrowed from the Boys Town slogan “he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” – a message that evokes the ideals of fraternity, selflessness, kindness and support – and a credo that resonates strongly with CEO Provincial Manager for the Eastern Cape, Ruaan Heunis.
Ruaan grew up in the small town of Burgersdorp in the Eastern Cape, the youngest of three brothers. “We’re a close-knit family,” he says. “I was the so-called laat-lammetjie so I had to learn to fend for myself from a young age, keep up with my brothers.” Developmental Psychology Researchers have found that having close sibling relationships – even with competitive brothers – can promote altruism in teenagers, particularly among boys – which may have a ripple effect through the rest of the family. And when your brother is also your best friend, then you’re also likely to feel less stressed. The study found that being around your best friend during trying times decreases your levels of cortisol, the hormone in your body that controls stress. Ruaan dreams of being able to tour across the African continent on motorcycles with his brothers. “I was inspired by the recent KykNet series, ‘Broer Toer’” he smiles. “The idea of touring with my brothers, sharing friendship and fraternity away from the busyness of life is very appealing.”
After school, Ruaan went on to study Law at the University of the Free State. “Languages have always been a strength of mine and it played a part in my choice of career. I’m also quite fond of debating various topics.” He joined CEO in 2017 after completing his articles of clerkship at Squire Smith & Laurie Inc. “CEO has a young and exciting team. The intensive experience gained is unmeasurable.”
Ruaan is able to exercise the fraternal and benevolent traits he developed through his relationships in his work with CEO members. “CEO has grown significantly over the last couple of years. We really are the voice of employers by providing expert and thoughtful representation for members at the CCMA and Bargaining Councils across South Africa. We carry their unique needs and risks into our negotiations all the time.” Ruaan and his team must help members navigate some very trying environments. “Some Bargaining Councils are swamped by excessive caseloads. I think all councils should adopt a Con/Arb process. Often you will find a matter is being arbitrated months, even years after conciliation.”
When Ruaan isn’t helping CEO members, he enjoys reading, visiting with friends, snorkelling, and he is also an avid gamer which helps him to unwind and relax.
Ruaan also likes going for a run. Would that be on a road that’s long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to who knows where? Probably!