Meet the Boss: Ajen Sita, CEO, Ernst & Young Africa

‘Meet the Boss’ is a How we made it in Africa interview series where we pose the same ten questions to business leaders across the continent. 

Ajen Sita

Ajen Sita

1. What was your first job?

My first formal employment was with Ernst & Young as a trainee accountant. Prior to that, I did holiday work as a salesman in a clothing retail store for about seven years.

2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?

The coaching I have received from partners in the firm and the support of my family is what has had the biggest impact on my career.

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

Africa has a unique opportunity. In order for us to make the best of the opportunities, there are a number of things that concern me. These are, what approaches does Africa need to have to take advantage of available opportunities, how can we transform business to enable it to take advantage of the opportunities and also how can we best build a better society for our people and societies.

4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?

I have invested a lot of work into my personal development. This has also helped me to be objective in my interaction with work and people and not emotional. I also have a clear sense of purpose. I have also learned that one of the secrets of success is to surround myself with a strong team and people who are smarter than me and I give them the space to thrive.

5. What are the best things about South Africa?

The best things about South Africa are the diversity of our people and geography. South Africans have a can-do attitude even when things appear tough.

6. And the worst?

At times South Africans do not realise how amazing their country is. This often leads to people not giving a positive and balanced view of South Africa to outsiders.

7. Your future career plans?

I am committed to prioritising Africa as a preferred emerging market investment destination. I will continue to develop its people and ensure that the story of Africa’s potential is told confidently to opportunity seeking investors.

8. How do you relax?

My work schedule is very tight. Many days I fit in five to six meetings and this does not include business trips. This does not leave a lot of spare time. During weekends and holidays you will find me spending time with my wife and children, and occasionally trying my hand at painting.

9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?

Research shows that entrepreneurs are at the heart of job creation. Therefore my message to the young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs is that they need to equip themselves with the necessary education and skills to be able to run companies that not only make a difference in their countries’ economies but in the lives of ordinary people and communities. Most of all they need to believe in themselves.

10. How can Africa realise its full potential?

Africa has grown incredibly in the past 10 years. There are still many opportunities available for Africa to fully realise it socio-economic needs. There needs to be investment in human capital to arm its people with education and skills. There also needs to be massive investment into infrastructure to facilitate trade, create employment and grow economies.