1. What was your first job?
I worked for PwC as a strategy consultant in the US.
2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
I think a big part that keeps me awake is making sure that we continue to be a profitable business. So, managing our costs and our cost structures keeps me up. And making sure that on the people side we have the right skills and capabilities going forward, and that we have to revamp those capabilities that we have on a South African basis to a more pan-African basis, and the changes that are required for that.
3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
I started off as strategy consultant, I did investment banking for a number of years, and then private equity investments before I came in [to Kansai Plascon Africa Limited]. So a very different background coming in. I think the biggest impact on my career has been that I have been fortunate enough to have worked across my life with a number of very talented people as my bosses. And I think a lot of them have given me a lot of comfort and strength and have taught me a lot, and I am trying to utilise those skills today
4. The best professional advice you’ve ever received?
5. The top reasons why you have been successful in business?
So I think I have been very fortunate in my career. So one, I have worked in the EU, I have worked in the Middle East, in parts of Asia, I have worked in the US. I think bringing that knowledge as I work now in emerging markets and across Africa, I think that has been one of the things I bring. I have been able to look at businesses holistically. I think the other thing is a strong work ethic, the ability to drive and get things done has really, really helped me. And again that’s what I keep encouraging younger guys – don’t worry so much about pay… these things will come up. Work hard and good things will come.
6. Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership? Business school or on the job?
I have been to business school, I have got engineering and operations research background. But, definitely on the job training. I would sit there and say the best way to prepare for leadership is on the job with good mentors and good leaders, and following in their footsteps.
7. How do you relax?
I spend time with my family and play golf.
8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?
So I am usually in the office by 08:00. I am usually up by 05:00 in the morning answering emails. So my work day actually starts at 05:00 in the morning where I look at the previous night’s emails, answer those emails before I show up to work.
9. Your favourite job interview question?
How many pizzas are sold in Africa? I think it is about seeing the way people would break down a problem. I think those sort of questions really gets into how someone thinks about and breaks down problems.
10. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?
Africa is a very diverse continent – a lot of opportunity. Be bold and you’ll be able to accomplish a lot. But at the end of the day a lot of countries within Africa operate in a unique way. So how business is done in South Africa may not be how it is done in Nigeria or in Kenya or in Uganda – you must learn about what works in local environments and local customs, and adapt yourself to be able to do it. But, huge amount of opportunity in Africa – that is one of the major reasons I am here is because we see, and I see growth in Africa over the next 10 years. Where in other markets, more mature markets, you don’t see that growth. So very exciting place to be whether you are at my level in your career or just starting out, I think Africa is an exciting continent to work in.
Kansai Plascon Africa Limited is a South African-based paint manufacturer.