On the lighter side of things, we ask the industry experts what makes them tick…
Grant Bennett, Country Manager for SUSE South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
I remember this as if it was just yesterday – at a former company, I was the first executive to achieve Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) and the Revenue target in a financial year.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
I have always been drawn to technology and what sealed the deal for me was the fast-paced innovation and impact that technology has in changing the business landscape and how it influences the way businesses are run. In today’s world, technology is the only solution for progression and growth and those that ignore it risk being left behind.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
To create a work environment where we have fun while continuously growing, learning and of course, making money while we do so. I believe in creating an environment that is welcoming and allows employees to put in the extra work to ensure that the common goal is achieved because they know they are cared for and that you have their best interests at heart.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
In my opinion, I believe that the movement from a current on-premise environment to the cloud solution and how customers make this journey is a hot topic and one that needs to be properly considered to ensure businesses make the right move.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I believe the gym is the perfect way to de-stress and get the mind focused, so I make my weekly early morning sessions at the gym a non-negotiable. This is where I can prepare to take on the day, no matter what the challenges.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
One thing that years of experience on the job will do for you, is help you realise the things you could have done to make your journey easier and for me, it would probably be being more patient.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
I think that customers are spending huge amounts of money on infrastructure only to realise that perhaps there were other options that should have been explored to give them the flexibility and scalability they need. As a result, businesses are moving towards software and service models as cloud adoption increases.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Africa?
Like many regions, there remains a huge lack of skills in Africa and much work is needed in this area as this shortage hampers business competitiveness and puts businesses under additional pressure to attract talent from what is already considered a small pool. Therefore, it is essential that organisations look towards skills development – focusing at grass root level. Creating opportunities where they invest in training qualified candidates to meet the demands organisations are faced with currently. Such programmes need to be a platform to upskill the future generation with ‘real-world knowledge’ and an opportunity to increase their worth and productivity in the eyes of an employer. In fact, these programmes need to go beyond just providing graduates with the necessary skills, but it should pair companies with the right talent for their needs – be it cloud technologies, web technologies, open source, networking technologies or security to harnesses much-needed skill in the interest of the industry of a whole – and this is exactly what the SUSE graduate programme does.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain c-level position in your industry?
Starting from the bottom is always valuable, you get to learn the skills and the knowledge from the ground up. This will also help you build a solid foundation of unmatched skills. Additionally, be sure to invest time in a mentor that can offer you guidance along the way and of course, remember it takes hard work, so roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.