Chief Executive Officer | CONLOG Titanium Sponsor

This article first appeared in The African Power & Energy Elites, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

WHO WERE YOUR ROLE MODELS DURING THE PIVOTAL STAGES OF YOUR LIFE?

The people that have helped my decision-making and molded my thinking are my parents. They taught me the simple values of life; to be truthful, honest, loving and caring, and to live with integrity. Almost cliché, is one of South Africa’s greatest leaders, Nelson Mandela. The one thought that has stayed with me for a long time is his reflection that nothing is impossible until it is done. I am also spiritually centred and I believe God brings about a value system for us to determine whether the decisions we take, make to support our lives and the lives of those around us, are in the best interest of everyone.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A SUCCESSFUL LEADER?

A leader’s success is determined by their ability to bring about positive actions from those that they lead through inspiration, not through managed outcomes. A successful leader needs to bring together like-minded individuals who share a common purpose, drive and vision.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST STRENGTHS?

Today’s leaders are required to be decisive and take immediate action on opportunities and challenges they may encounter. However, it is my opinion that being able to slow things down before responding allows for time to take advice on the subject from experts and those you surround yourself with that can inform a decision. Using the resources around you will support the best interest of the business. It is one of the fundamentals of strong leadership and is something I believe I can deliver on and enjoy – it’s a skill I have to use my team’s experience and basically just take the time to listen and understand their contributions to the table.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST BLIND SPOTS AND HOW ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING THESE?

Something that requires my attention, which can sometimes be my downfall, is my haste to progress specifically around the balance between business and team members’ adaption to change, which is often not always aligned. For me to overcome this blind spot will mean my constant engagement with the whole business and team at a personal level to understand their expectations in order to carve a way forward.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING IN YOUR OPINION THAT PEOPLE COMMONLY MISCONCEIVE ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER?

A general misconception about my character is that sometimes I seem distracted. For instance, during a conversation and as a result of me always wanting to be attentive to every single detail that is shared, it seems a long time before I engage or respond. The truth is that I have grown accustomed to wanting to make sure I have the full picture and build a complete understanding before I even ask the first question. Typically, people will ask themselves: is he interested or have we lost his interest? Most times, in fact always, it is a case of me absorbing and trying to understand and create the full picture.

WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR KEEPING A TEAM MOTIVATED?

Engaging on opportunities, challenges, discussions or thoughts that will contribute toward moving the business forward is important. Having a clearly defined vision and mission, which is the core focus for the team, is critical to ensure that a collective effort is driving the business forward

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST RISK YOU’VE EVER TAKEN?

The biggest risk I have taken is the restructuring of an already highly-structured engineering approach to product design, while adopting an agile and responsive or customer-centric approach to product design over the last couple of years within the business. The risk I encountered centred around people and their willingness and ability to respond to such an impactful change, which disrupted processes and business practices that had been entrenched in the company for 25 years. I took a risky decision but ultimately it has paid massive dividends for the business. The employees adapted quickly to this change responding more effectively to product design and development, resulting in faster delivery of product to market in record time.

WHEN YOU’RE CONSIDERING A NEW PARTNERSHIP, WHAT FACTORS ARE DEAL-BREAKERS FOR YOU?

That is why culture is such an important element when assessing a fit for people in a business in ventures we pursue. Ensuring one has the right cultural fit in our business is one of the fundamentals that contributes to our success.

WHAT’S THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ THIS YEAR?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. A great book that speaks to the adoption of business practices, the testing of fundamentals around lean and agile process and how to, in Eric Ries’s perspective, journey through his decision making in his business. Many lessons, many great anecdotes from which we can draw some type of alignment for many businesses.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER?

The ability to inform the decision making and inform my engagement with people around me, my team and the whole population of the business.

It is my curiosity, the willingness to continue to explore and learn that has defined my career.

WHICH OF YOUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS WERE THE MOST DIFFICULT TO DEVELOP?

People engagement is one of the more difficult aspects of leadership when one considers that people in their own right are the most unique and complex encounters you will have. Being an introvert myself, understanding how to approach individuals or circumstances around specific engagements was something I had to focus very hard on to overcome in the long run.

WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED AND HOW HAS IT PROVEN INVALUABLE?

Stay curious – that is my motto. It is the most invaluable leadership lesson I can share. At any stage in one’s career, living by this motto allows you to discover new things and learn from experiences everyday as well as allowing those new lessons to let you move forward.

HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE?

There is a lot of talk about work life balance and ensuring that you have a number of working hours to support your business and personal life. My thinking is that we have an opportunity to craft an existence around the work that we do and therefore work is our life. The jobs we do are our life but there shouldn’t be a negative connotation to work or jobs. It should be something we love. However, I do think it is important to make the most of every opportunity with your family and loved ones. Steal the moments when you can and create memories, share experiences so as to enjoy an effective balance.

WHAT TREND IN THE GLOBAL ENERGY SPACE DO YOU SEE BECOMING INTRINSIC TO THE OVERALL POWER NETWORK, AND WHAT TREND WILL FADE?

As society becomes more cognisant of the responsibility we have to the environment, distributed generation, privatised transmission and distribution, renewables and lower accessible tariffs, will become prevalent in the future power and energy system. A trend that requires more focus and dedication from industry experts is the concept of smart. What smart metering means, what smart energy consumption demand management means for the future, is a trend that is yet to evolve. How I see it evolving is not necessarily from the utility focus or from a business focus but rather from the consumer perspective. This trend will quickly evolve to become more user-centric or customer-centric, creating mechanisms of convenience for energy management and energy demand in the home.

This article first appeared in The African Power & Energy Elites, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.