CEO Today - Africa Awards 2022

It is a known fact that not all entrepreneurs make good leaders. In your opinion, what has contributed to your passion and abilities as a leader? I am proud to say that my dad played a very big role in this. At an early age, I would help my dad at the chemical plant he worked at and was inspired by what I consistently observed. I was always proud of how generous and hardworking my dad was. But what really impressed me was his talent for making people feel heard and appreciated, and his compulsion to always go the extra mile. At Christmas, instead of just giving employees money, I remember spending days helping him wrap and personalise gifts for each person. He relished in making people feel special – which is a rare pursuit among leaders. My dad always led by example, teaching me so much about how to value people and appreciate interdependency in business. Through him, I appreciated that people always come first; his genuine care and commitment to empowering people left an indelible impression on me. I also grew to learn multiple ways in which to both manage and lead people as well as businesses. He lived the value of “take care of your people and they will take care of the business”. I suppose the subconscious desire to be like him and make people feel the way he did fuelled my passion and nurtured my leadership qualities. It is these lessons that continue to motivate me to take on additional responsibilities – a quest that has certainly accelerated my leadership journey. As a business leader, problem-solving is a daily requirement of the role. In responding to challenges, do you have an approach that works well in these dynamic times? Whether you are an engineer, accountant or an attorney, every profession demands varying degrees of problem-solving. I firmly believe that while some have a natural tendency to be more effective in responding to challenges, for most it is an ability that can be developed over time through one’s own experiences, applied learnings, trial and error, etc. Ultimately, having the ability to assemble the right people around you will result in success. A good foundation involves a solutions-oriented mindset, enabling structures, processes and discipline. It is vital that leaders also ensure their analysis is thorough, enabling them to see the finer details as well as the big picture. But we can all appreciate that there are always factors that come out of left field. In terms of macro-environment factors, while the scale of events such as COVID-19, global supply disruptions and the Russia-Ukraine war were seemingly impossible to predict, leaders will be well served to build in agility that supports resilience, especially in unprecedented times. The concept of having the optionality and the ability to be agile during turbulent times is an important factor in ensuring the resilience of businesses. As a business leader, what – for you – are the non-negotiables, especially when challenges are compounding? Even though it is important for businesses to reach consensus on those non-negotiables, for me, this is a very simple one. Regardless of the context, leaders and businesses should always ensure they do the right thing. We can all agree that how we respond when things are spiralling downwards is the true test of personal or business values – and one of the greatest determinants of resilience. Some may be tempted to compromise, going down the path of instant gratification. This could yield dividends in the short term, but it is not a sustainable approach. While the importance of behaving in an ethical and moral way goes without saying, doing so also helps build strong stakeholder confidence, business credibility and market trust, shifting businesses from good to great. We can all appreciate that a positive reputation and long-term sustainability is rooted in the unwavering commitment to the business’s values. Ultimately, doing good business and the right thing will result in long-term sustainability. Making “people decisions” remains challenging. In this context, what advice would you like to share with other business leaders? Fundamentally, business is about people. So, to look inward, building teams with people who share common goals, are passionate, believe in what they are doing and take - 21 - CEO Today Af r i ca Award s 2022 - SOUTH AFRICA -

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