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- Player: Susan ‘Santie’ Botha
- Organisation: Chancellor of the NMMU, independent non-executive director of Tiger Brands and Imperial Holdings, non-executive chairperson of Curro Holdings
- Claim to fame: Business Woman of the Year (2010); director, Famous Brands (2010)
On hitting the ground running
I start every day with a 6km run. Exercise clears my head and helps me to focus on the work day. If I don’t have morning meetings, I consume the news, looking at what’s happening in the markets and how that may affect my clients, and also at new developments in the sectors I work in to assess whether there are matters that need my immediate attention. I’m a big list person, so I use this time to create lists of what has to be done, and plan the days ahead.
On diary management
In corporate, you attend a lot of unnecessary meetings. Now that I work for myself, I only attend meetings if the objectives are clear.
If I’m not sure that I will add value, I simply won’t go. Meetings with no clear goals are time wasters. If I’m chairing a meeting, I have the CEO’s objectives in mind so that I can drive the meeting towards achieving them, rather than simply allowing everyone to voice their opinions without reaching any conclusions.
On ensuring that action is taken
Make people responsible for tasks, not teams. I’m not one for groups. I like to make individuals responsible for actions, and I am clear on what needs to be achieved by when, and what I expect the outcome to be.
On quality evening time
Use evenings to complete the smaller tasks you may not have cleared during the day. I tick them off my list so that I can start the new day without being bogged down by yesterday’s concerns.
On using a pencil
I attend meetings with a pencil, eraser and sharpener in hand. My notes are kept in books so that I can always refer back to them. I have books for each business I have been involved in so you can imagine the size of my library. The pencil became a habit because I am assiduously neat and organised and I prefer to erase errors than draw a line through them.
On the most important discipline for success
Whether a task is big or small, tackle it immediately and get it out of the way. If it requires significant effort, think about it and plan.
Success is the result of aligning your own objectives with those of the company, and always focusing on the core of the business. Big ideas and actions take companies forward. Do not let your time be swallowed up by stuff that has no bearing on the bottom line.