Matthew Thackrah, deputy managing director, Samsung Electronics South Africa
1. What was your first job?
Interestingly, my first job was selling cameras at the airport in Johannesburg, while I was a student.
2. Describe the parts of your job that keep you awake at night.
It is a challenging marketplace and we have to ensure that we have the right strategies in place to both enable Samsung to grow, as well as enabling us to provide future opportunities to South African people within the Samsung business. I would say seeking and implementing new ways to enable the business to grow, so I can create more employment opportunities within the local market, would be the biggest factor keeping me awake.
3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
Probably a gentleman I met when I was first employed as an account manager for a multinational imaging and optical product brand. The man who was running the South African business at that time portrayed superb leadership skills. I was impressed by how he built and managed relationships. It didn’t matter at what level he was communicating, he always communicated with the utmost respect to every single individual.
4. And the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
Once you have reached the top, the job is not complete; staying there is much more difficult. Essentially, it means continuing to work hard once you have reached the top of the tree.
5. The top reasons why you have been successful in business?
It’s a combination of my ability to communicate across all levels of the business, and my capacity to lead an organisation with full belief in the people behind me. Having the buy-in of your staff is the most important element of making a success of any organisation.
6. Where is the best place to prepare for leadership, business school or on the job?
It is definitely on the job. Business school is great for theory but nothing prepares you like the marketplace.
7. How do you relax?
I play golf and spend time with my family. I also spend quite a bit of time down at the coast.
8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?
9. Your favourite job interview question?
What change would you bring to an organisation and how would this benefit your new colleagues and employer?
10. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?
The market is ever-changing, so don’t ever be stuck in one mind-set. Always listen to the opinions of others before you start making decisions.