What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
During my career, I have had to turn a number of businesses around. It never gets any easier to do but it is always worth it in the end, and it is something tangible as you can see where you as an individual make a difference. In fact, it is those turnarounds that I remember more than anything else.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
I have been interested in technology since I was a child. I loved to take things apart to see how they worked, although I wasn’t always able to put them back together. I got my first computer from a cousin when I just hit my teens and have always had a passion for them. Even though I had that background, I was actually looking at a career in insurance or finance but landed up in technology and haven’t looked back.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
I believe in servant leadership. Fundamentally it’s about working with teams and people, not expecting them to work for you. To me that means getting my hands dirty and leading by example
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
The great thing about technology is that there is always something new. It also presents a challenge as you have to keep on top of everything. Automation, Artificial Intelligence and the ever-expanding Internet of Things are going to continuously change how we work and live, and impact more and more of how we do things into the future.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I like to run to clear my head, and spending time with my family and friends always helps me unwind.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
I have no regrets on my career decisions and there isn’t one thing that stands out. I do suppose there are times where I should have taken decisions quicker – that I knew in my gut to be the right ones. That however is the benefit of hindsight and not always easy to see in the moment.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
For distribution, the major investment is around the digitisation of our business. From platforms to run our business, to automation of how we deal with our customers and partners. Fundamentally it’s about investing in models that assist us to do business simpler and quicker, as well as providing more transparency of the supply chain.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Africa?
Reliability of communications and infrastructure remains the biggest challenge; however there have been great strides in improvement in these areas over the last decade. Nevertheless, the non-technology challenges are still the biggest hindrance for investment.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
I have had to become much more knowledgeable around systems and processes at a more detailed level. These are the strategic enablers of our business, and they can’t be expected to happen without executive support for them. It’s the challenge of identifying true business improvements that can come about with such investments versus chasing the latest shiny thing.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
You need to have a passion for all aspects of the business. C-level roles are no longer focused on silo’s and a broad understanding of all the components that make up the whole business is necessary. Finance needs to understand IT. IT needs to understand sales. HR needs to understand marketing and so on. A business is like an orchestra, while each individual may be an expert with their instrument, if they don’t know how it all works together, it won’t be a success.