Meet the Boss: Kevin Lennett, managing director, The Crazy Store

Kevin Lennett

1. What was your first job?

It was as a casual at a company called Varsity Sports, a sports store.

2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?

I guess with any retailer it is controlling your shrinkage. Protecting your assets in other words. Are we adequately protecting our assets? And that includes people – there are some crazy things that happen out there. The staff at the store, their safety and well-being are important to us. That definitely worries one.

3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?

One would be Raymond Ackerman, [from] Pick n Pay. And the second would be Laurie Chiappini – he was the founder of Mr Price. I followed them in their careers and that. I’ve grown up in retail, I’ve been closely looking at what they do – and from a Laurie Chiappini perspective, in the key times of my retail growth as a person, I used to go and visit him and we would chat about things. He’d give me lots of insight that he gained from his own experiences, which are very relevant.

4. The best professional advice you’ve ever received?

They are horrible clichés: retail is detail, and keep it simple.

5. The top reasons why you have been successful in business?

Passion. If you enjoy what you do and you are driven by it, and you wake up every day and you get a kick out of it, you should succeed.

6. Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership? Business school or on the job?

I think it is a bit of both. So for example, for me definitely attending seminars or conferences, or going overseas and listening to international speakers, you gain a hell of a lot. From a business school perspective, I think it supplements your ‘on the job’. So to be honest I think it is a little bit of both, I think you can never stop learning. On the job you are learning every day and you can’t replace that.

7. How do you relax?

I relax through time with my family, and I am also chairman of the False Bay Rugby Club in Cape Town. The rugby club is a distraction to everyday stress.

8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?

It varies depending on my kids. So I like to be here at 6:45am, when it is quiet time – but if I am on a school run, it’s just after 8:00am.

9. Your favourite job interview question?

Tell me why you want to work for us.

10. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?

I’d say that with passion and energy, anything is possible.