We’ve heard there’s an interesting tale about how you gotyour first job?
Well, I worked from as young as nine, doing door-to-doorsales of household detergents to pay for my school fees and bus fare. But myfirst real job was at Edgars in
After studying you worked at two global companies –Hewlett-Packard and ADC-Krone. What did that experience teach you?
Firstly, a global perspective. I did a lot of training inthe States at HP and suddenly I had to compete at a global level, my targetswere in dollars. It was one of the best experiences for me. When I was atADC-Krone I travelled all over Africa. There,I learned business development skills – how to put a strategy together, how toimplement, execute and manage it. I also learned people skills – how to besensitive to the different politics and cultures of different countries.
But it wasn’t all good. You were retrenched four timesweren’t you?
Yes, but I learned a lot from that as well. You realisehow competitive things are and that there is no such thing as job security orentitlement to anything. Someone somewhere can make a decision and suddenlyyou’re without a job. I learned that there are no guarantees and I learned tostand on my own two feet.
Do you have a mantra that you live by?
In business, yes. They say in Africathat when a lion wakes up it must make sure it runs faster than the slowestzebra in order to survive, but when a zebra wakes up it has to run faster thanthe fastest lion in order to survive. In business, you can’t be caught napping.
How do you deal with people’s negative perceptions of BEE?
ABVA set standards for the verification of BEE so thatthere is a consistent approach. Companies need to comply, those are the rules.We try to be champions of transformation, to sell the benefits of compliance tobusiness. I understand government’s reasons for implementing BEE but when youtalk to businesses, you need to talk to them about it in a language theyunderstand, which is the language of profit and efficiency. It’s not hardreally because there are tangible business benefits. I think it also helps thatI own a business, so I understand what it means from a business point of view.