Tell us about your company & your role?
I’m the Area Managing Director of South Africa & Sub-Sahara Africa for the J&J Consumer Business, which covers a portfolio of iconic brands serving our consumers throughout their entire life journey, with solutions in Self-Care, Skin Health, and Essential Health.
What are your main priorities & goals in your role?
The purpose of our business in the region is “To Positively Impact Lives in Africa Every Day”. In order to deliver against this purpose, our main objective is to “Win Consumers Every Day”, by partnering with customers to build differentiated brands, anchored in health and science, that more consumers reach for as part of their daily rituals. How do we plan to do that? First, we will strengthen our algorithm for profitable growth, making sure we step change our P&L profitability in order to create a cycle of virtuous growth so we can reinvest in our business and strengthen our brands. We want to be known as the “Place to Be” for talent, by creating a high-performing, agile, diverse team, that challenges the norm, cares deeply, moves quickly, and shares a bold ambition to improve people’s overall health. Last but not least, we will become a digital-first company, by challenging convention, to deliver end-to-end experiences that shape the future of consumer health. If we achieve this, all traditional financial indicators will naturally come as a result.
How do you define success & what drives you to succeed?
My definition of success is intimately related to my drive to succeed. For me, it’s all about creating a “positive difference in people’s lives” through the products and services we provide, how we can support all our employees through their career development and the impact we make on the communities we serve through our corporate social responsibility programmes. Finally, reaching our financial objectives by positively impacting people’s lives, equates success to me.
How do you keep your team motivated?
I keep my team motivated based on: 1) helping them to find their purpose and seeing the positive impact they are making beyond the immediate work they do daily; 2) truly empowering my teams to drive the business; 3) constant recognition of the great work they are doing.
What new trends/disruptors are emerging in your industry?
There are several of them, but there are two, in particular, I would like to highlight. The first is sustainability – but not the definition of sustainability we usually hear about. In places like Africa, where people already suffer from droughts, heat stress, and flooding, climate change poses a severe threat. Concerns around water and food security are becoming more extreme. Therefore, sustainability is not just about recycling but addressing shortages, in particular water. Consumers will lean more towards smart solutions that help them to better deal with resource scarcity. The second is an increasing demand from African consumers for products and services tailored to their specific needs, adapted to their local nuances, and unpacked for them by local public figures and influencers. African consumers are no longer interested in the “one-size-fits-all” approach, where products are developed with a completely different consumer in mind. The rate of success from future innovation will largely depend on companies’ ability to deliver against these two important trends.
What areas do you think need to be improved to enhance the business environment in Cape Town, especially in a Covid-19 context?
In the context of Covid-19, I don’t see anything material that would have to be improved in order to enhance the business environment in Cape Town. I believe overall, the South African government has deployed a well-measured approach, to a large extent, with better results when compared to many of the developed countries.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in the local business environment?
Yes, one major change that would be appreciated by the business community is to avoid policies that are not well thought out before roll-out. Pre-consultation with industry associations and pilots to pressure test the policies before roll-out would be greatly appreciated. For example, in May 2021, the South African government implemented the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulation, which is a fantastic initiative to address the increasing volumes of plastic pollution. However, the implementation has been really cumbersome, with several gaps in the policy, which has created a lot of confusion, uncertainty, and frustration.
Are you finding any skills gaps in the market?
No, absolutely not. On the contrary, I was very positively surprised and impressed by the quality and skills of the talents in the South African market.
If you could choose to have dinner with four influential South African business or government leaders, who would you choose?
That would be Minister of Basic Education Ms. Matsie Angelina Motshekga, to gain insights on her plans for education, an area which I believe is crucial for South Africa’s future; Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Mr. Samson Gwede Mantashe, to better understand what the investment plan is to solve the energy challenges we are facing; Minister of Health Dr. Mathume Joseph ‘Joe’ Phaahla to hear about his plans on how to step change the universal health availability in South Africa and how the private sector can contribute; last but definitely not the least, the commander in chief, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa to hear about his vision for South Africa’s future.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
“Never get comfortable. If you do, it is time to move so you don’t stop learning.”