Ashton is the archetypal serial entrepreneur; he has made millions and lost millions. He never ever gives up, and never stops learning. He’s currently CEO of CCI SA, a very fast growing call centre business. He has energy and goodwill to burn, and will continue to forge new paths forward that many would say could not be done.
A very special leader.
RENE CARAYOL, OUR VERY OWN LEADERSHIP GURU, EVERY ISSUE CHALLENGES AN AFRICAN LEADER.
Rob Godlonton is the CEO of ICT at the fast-growing IT specialists EOH, and is responsible for infrastructure and managed services. He was educated at the University of Stellenbosch, and has a wealth of experience in the IT arena both locally and globally.
Godlonton spent over 10 years in Europe working with world class IT service providers. He returned to SA ten years ago and is bringing his experience to bear in the SA environment.
RENE CARAYOL, OUR VERY OWN LEADERSHIP GURU, EVERY ISSUE CHALLENGES AN AFRICAN LEADER.
Voted as one of the leading women entrepreneurs in the world in 1998 by the Star Group in the US,she is the one of only five women in South Africa to have received this prestigious award. Dr Mokgokong is today one of the most confident female entrepreneurs in South Africa. Anna started from very humble beginnings, and has overcome significant obstacles to build a diversified investment holdings business worth R1 billion.
RENE CARAYOL, OUR VERY OWN LEADERSHIP GURU, EVERY ISSUE CHALLENGES AN AFRICAN LEADER.
The battleground is now shifting to leadership. There are many graduates joining the workforce and many entrepreneurs starting their own businesses. These developments are making for exciting times, but even in start-ups we are still witnessing an obsession with strategy, with little attention focussed on the culture of the organisation.
Read more on the Leadership Magazine - South Africa's Number 1 Award Winning Magazine - http://www.leadershiponline.co.za/articles/why-culture-is-more-powerful-than-strategy-19905.html
We were by the extraordinarily beautiful Lake Malawi, it was November 2015, the auditorium was silent and thoughtful, as all 40 attendees reflected on the 90 minutes they had just spent examining what is meant by Authentic Leadership. Here was a gathering of some of the most progressive leaders in Malawi, with an appetite and ambition for continuous development.
Read more here on the Leadership Magazine - South Africa's Number 1 Award Winning Magazine http://www.leadershiponline.co.za/articles/talent-to-burn-19642.html
The real danger of doing a job you love is that it is seriously difficult to take time off—you’re voluntarily and delightfully—‘always on’—constantly utilising your Spikes.
Read more here via the Leadership Magazine South Africa's Number 1 Award Winning Business Magaizine - http://www.leadershiponline.co.za/articles/all-immigrants-are-welcomed-19411.html
The new-age CFO needs to be an expert communicator and strong team player with the ability to influence and persuade not just use the blunt instrument of command and control.
Read more online here http://www.dofonline.co.uk/govern/9603-the-winter-edition-of-director-of-finance-is-out-now-read-it-here or download the article.
WHILE hosting a dynamic and powerful retail- biased leadership event recently, I had the pleasure hearing from a couple of former Marks & Spencer colleagues, Kim Winser and Peter Ruis, who had gone on to achieve much. A lively and insightful discussion on contemporary leadership soon centred on the longevity of Marks & Spencer and how the brand was allowed to decline from the halcyon days in the late 1980s when we worked there together.
I RECENTLY had the privilege of hosting a provocative debate around the Business of Football and, just like a good Premier League match, it proved to be a special, fast moving and passionate affair. On this particular panel at Hult International Business School, we had David Gold, one of the co-owners of West Ham and a serial entrepreneur, alongside Mehmet Dalman, the non-executive chairman of Cardiff City, and a classy investment banker by background. Instructively, no other chairs or owners accepted invitations to sit on the panel. One could understand why they might perhaps give this type of event a miss as there would appear to be no upside for them. In fact there might be nothing but grief.
ALTHOUGH there are many people, both contemporary and from history, who are no doubt well placed to write a book about “Winners”, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, is unlikely to be one of the first names that comes to mind. However, that is exactly what he has done and, it needs to be said, it is an absolutely cracking read.
AS GLOBAL markets activity, defensive mind-sets rarely bounced back towards the end of 2013, confidence surged around mergers and acquisitions (M&A), really hitting a peak in the first half of 2014. There was some $1.7trillion worth of M&A activity announced. This is the highest half-yearly total since the crash of 2007. The greatest activity was in the highly regulated environments of healthcare and telecoms, accounting for $319billion and $261billion respectively. The lack of similar action in the fiercely regulated world of financial services has been striking.
SITTING in a luxury hotel in Johannesburg, I was watching the final race of the Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi on TV when suddenly the power went out. It wasn’t long before the hotel’s generator kicked in and the TV came back on. But there are many others across South Africa who do not have the benefit of a hotel generator during increasingly frequent power cuts. ItishardtoacceptthatAfrica’smostadvanced and sophisticated economy can still be brought to its knees by its ageing and archaic energy infrastructure. As both investments and expectations of Africa continue to grow, it is their political institutions and national infrastructures that lag dangerously behind.
MANY are starting to wonder whether the phenomenon of crowdfunding is beginning to get out of control, with new sites appearing nearly every week. At its most simplistic, crowdfunding is like having thousands of like-minded people prepared to invest whatever they can afford to lose in your business, initiative or venture online. Some have described it as democratic finance, allowing start-ups access to money while bypassing financial institutions and venture capitalists. Given recent macro- economic concerns, it is becoming increasingly attractive, but it can never be the total solution.
THERE IS hardly an following benefits – reduced cost base, organisation today that isn’t contemplating or executing some form of digital strategy. However, recent experience is beginning to inform us that we have to hold our breath and perhaps digitise the whole organisation in one go. Piecemeal or incremental approaches are beginning to unravel, as much for cultural reasons as anything else. This new digitised world and the old analogue world are increasingly uncomfortable bedfellows.
A FEW YEARS ago, when I was serving on the board of Places for People, the government of the day was incentivising the construction industry to assist in building better schools. Working in partnership with the London Diocesan Board for Schools, Places for People, a large property management, development and regeneration company, became involved in a bid to redevelop St Thomas’s School in one of the murkier parts of the wealthiest borough in the UK, Kensington and Chelsea in London.
I RECENTLY had the special opportunity of interviewing one of the UK’s premier turnaround business leaders, Allan Leighton, in front of a packed house at the Mayfair Hotel in London. There were many great moments, and a standout quote: “Companies don’t die – people kill them”.
This took me back to my time at Marks & Spencer during the 80s and early 90s. Its clothing business had a phenomenal market share with a formula that hadn’t changed for years, and had yet to stall. The forceful and outspoken chief executive was Rick Greenbury, his impulsiveness tempered by the calm, thoughtful chairman, Lord Raynor. Rick was a brilliant merchant, but his ego couldn’t resist a good scrap.
ON A RECENT visit to Soweto, the large and vibrant township adjacent to Johannesburg, we saw some successful Western brands that had been somewhat “Africanised”. At first, it appeared to jar with everything we thought we knew about brands here in the developed West but, in many respects, the brand experience was being delivered in quite a different but perhaps quite appropriate manner.
Many of us were blown away by the excitement of the recent World Cup, but also somewhat dismayed by the jaw dropping transfer fees generated by those players appearing before the billions watching worldwide. Probably the most difficult bit of business to understand was the £75million Barcelona have just recently paid for Luis Suárez, despite the fact that he disgraced himself by biting an opponent. This was closely followed by the £50million paid for David Luiz, who admittedly had a stinker for Brazil in their 7-1 defeat by Germany. Whilst the transfer fees were humungous, their new salaries of circa £200,000 per week were just as breath taking.
NOT EVERYTHING that is new is great, and not everything that is old is broken and bad. We must remember this when it comes to sustainable and smart cities around our planet. The whole urbanisation movement was born at the turn of the last century as industrialisation spread around the world, and many left rural areas to find work in the factories springing up in cities.
IT’S EASY for most of us to cast our minds back to our favourite teacher at school. That teacher was probably the one who was most enthusiastic about both their subject matter, and getting their points across to all the students in the classroom. They tended to be the teachers whose classes nobody skipped, and everyone completed their set homework. They are probably the ones about whom, even if you forgot what they said, you always remembered how they made you feel – engagement was key.
A VISIT to the Netherlands’ best known storm barriers, the Delta Works, which are sometimes called the eighth wonder of the world, demonstrates just how seriously the Dutch take flood protection. The Delta Works were developed after the floods of 1953. Twenty hours of an unforgiving storm was too much for the dykes of Zeeland to handle. Nearly 2,000 people died and more than 150,000 hectares of land was flooded. With the construction of the Delta Works, the odds of another flood like that of 1953 have been reduced to once every 4,000 years.
MANY of us cheered wildly as Lewis Hamilton won his “home” Grand Prix at Silverstone earlier this month, driving for the dominant Mercedes team. Most of Formula 1’s constructors, including Mercedes, are headquarted in the UK, despite many of them being foreign-owned. They are based in and around Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, now referred to as Motorsport Valley, a network or ecosystem of nearly 3,000 small engineering companies.
A FEW YEARS ago I was invited to present a groundbreaking series for the BBC called Mind Of A Millionaire. Our objective was to answer the question: Are entrepreneurs born or made? We started off by redefining the entrepreneur as a self-made millionaire. Out of the 70,000 self-made millionaires we found in the UK back then, 49 per cent were dyslexic and 59 per cent came from deprived or dysfunctional backgrounds. This less-than- privileged background gave rise to an incredible determination and an indefatigable drive for success.
OUTSOURCING behemoths like G4S, Serco and ISS are leaders in one of the most hidden and unstylish industries in the business world. These facilities management companies run hospitals and prisons, oversee heating and lighting, clean offices, provide security services, feed employees and much more. The intent is to service anything which enables their customers to concentrate on their core operations. They employ millions of people, and some estimates would have industry revenues as high as $1trillion a year.
A RECENT tour of McLaren’s state-of-the-art supercar factory in Woking was instructive. There were no greasy overalls or grimy machines anywhere – this was much more about cutting-edge technology, computer- aided design and precision engineering. This was an insight into what may well become, for the UK, the “third” industrial revolution.
We are witnessing the convergence of an unprecedented number of disruptive technologies; web-based services, intelligent software, innovative materials, self-learning robots and, perhaps most striking of all, 3D printing. Henry Ford and his ground-breaking Model T kick-started the second industrial revolution, producing thousands of identical products: “You can have any colour you like, as long as it is black.” The third industrial revolution really is any colour you like. The new production lines are much less about low-cost standardisation and consistency, but more about “one size fits no one”.
THE WORLD of precious metals will never be the same again after the recent retirement of 86- year-old Canadian mining colossus Peter Munk, the founder of Barrick Gold. He leaves behind a legacy of making billions from extracting gold at a time when his key Canadian rivals went spectacularly bankrupt. He was not a miner by background but, as he would have liked to claim, he was a true businessman. This meant he saw opportunities and threats that perhaps miners never saw, or admitted to seeing.
In early 2010, YouGov and I were invited by Orange to prepare a report on the impact of (near) Universal Broadband on Britain’s entrepreneurs. We produced a report called ‘Entreprenation’. The results uncovered some directional stuff about women and start-ups. Interestingly, at the time, only three of the Fast Track and Tech Track 100 companies investigated were run solely by women - implying that men are leading the way when it comes to establishing successful companies.
TECHNOLOGY is forcing rapid change and, for many organisations, it is all too new and all too complex to be embarked upon on their own. Many wisely look to partner in order to gain access to new platforms and technologies, usually through an outsourcing relationship. However, the traditional approach to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is less and less appropriate in today’s ultra- competitive and unforgiving marketplaces.
More than 50 per cent of today’s BPO agreements are still totally fixated on cost reduction. And most contracts still deploy the “lift and shift” approach, basically moving the business process to an environment providing a lower labour cost. However, as many have already gained the benefits of cost reduction, coupled with rising labour costs in many preferred locations, it is time to think very differently.
AS A non-executive director of the then-Inland Revenue, the head office back then was at Somerset House and still had PAs, secretaries and typing pools in abundance. This was a real shock and a bit of a throwback to my initial days at Marks and Spencer in the early 1980s. If we fast-forward to the new millennium, those entering the world of work for the first time know nothing of typing pools. They are more proficient and faster with Microsoft Word than any copy typist ever dreamt of.
WE LIVE in Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous times – or VUCA. The Americans coined the term, but it could not be more apt for the raucous but still upwards march of the emerging markets.
In recent weeks we have seen the devastating scenes in Kiev – yet another emerging market in crisis and seemingly approaching meltdown. Similar disturbing pictures have come out of Bangkok and Istanbul. Just a few months ago it appeared that Ukraine, Thailand and Turkey were getting their acts together, especially in the case of Turkey, hailed by many as the model for the post-BRICS developing nations.
WHILE presenting a TV series called Business 2025 back in 2007 for BBC World, we took six CEOs of disparate companies from a variety of sectors and asked them one simple question: “What will your company look like in 2025?” Working alongside some eminent futurologists, we analysed their predictions. From mobile phones to electric cars to satellite systems (and with 20/20 hindsight), they all got it completely wrong. Looking back at the episodes, everything they thought they would do in 18 years was achieved in less than three. The rate and pace of innovation and change is getting forever faster and ever-more unpredictable.
I USED to host an investment summit in Monte Carlo, held each year just before the Monaco Grand Prix (tough work!). The attendees ranged from hedge-fund high rollers to proud Middle Eastern diplomats representing their sovereign wealth funds and, perhaps most strikingly of all, understated Norwegians representing their huge government pension fund. It remained a bit of a surprise to see these rather shy civil servants from Norway rubbing shoulders with some of the wealthiest fund managers around.
As Sky prepares to mark its 25th anniversary perhaps it may not be the celebration that it had hoped for. After years of dominance, mauling the likes of Setanta and ESPN, and showing a clean pair of heels to the terrestrial players such as ITV, it is at long last facing its first real competitive threat in BT. BT entered the pay TV marketplace, initially to protect the growing threat to its broadband business from the likes of Sky. It is now beginning to look like a serious broadcaster and fearsome long-term competitor that will not be deterred.