Leadership Spotlight: Chris Jones, CEO Digiterra

Tell us about your company and your role?

Digiterra is a consulting company that deals primarily with challenges stemming from business to IT alignment. The value that we provide is a combination of effective innovation enablement and the provisioning of strategic dashboards that provide management with the ability to effectively achieve its goals. Through our approach of Operational Model Analysis (OMA), we are able to see where our client has breakages or potential constraints, whether it’s organisational change, process inefficiency, architectural misalignment or technology-based. We are well-positioned to pinpoint where challenges exist and, most importantly, what the correct steps are to address them.

My role at Digiterra is no different to that of any of the clients we support. I lead the development and execution of the company’s strategy with a view to create long-term sustainable value for our employees, shareholders and customers.

What is the best thing about running a business in Cape Town?

Cape Town is a wonderful vibrant city, with beautiful people, impressive landscapes, good food, and a clear desire to create wealth and economic growth. I believe in the future of the region. I have had the privilege of meeting some of the best minds in the country, people who have made Cape Town their home. I think the best thing about running a business in Cape Town is the fact that so many Capetonians are working hard at making this a world-class one that all South Africans are proud of.

What do you think needs improving to enhance the business environment in Cape Town?

Most managers can acknowledge that there are challenges that exist within their businesses, and that continual improvement is an important ingredient to economic growth. The important next step is for management to have the courage to take risks in finding ways to address those challenges. Too often, we choose the road of caution under the guise of pragmatism. We use cost containment as a justification for not moving forward. Economic growth has been the most effective method of dealing with unemployment and poverty. What is required is the willingness for organisations to work with small businesses that can contribute towards improved productivity through technological innovation.

How would you describe Cape Town’s business community?

The Cape Town business community has a progressive outlook, with exciting projects coming from various industries such as retail, tourism, finance, agriculture and fishing. It’s a community that is mature in its thinking and open to growth potential.  Given the progressive and open nature of the Cape Town business community, it would be great to see an increase in the manufacturing sector.

Accelerate Cape Town is committed to developing a long-term vision and future strategy for the region, and Vision 2030 described the business vision for the region in 2009.  What would you say are currently the most important parts of Vision 2030 for the city and region?

Employment has to be seen as the single most important element in the short to medium term. We have a growing youth population that, if not addressed, will exacerbate the current strained economic conditions we find ourselves in. In my mind, employment can only be created through government and businesses’ appetites to take risks. Local government needs to prioritise and promote small business through increased small business access to government work; while backing that up with suitable funding. Big business needs to open its doors to small business, and in so doing unlock a larger market that all citizens can participate in. Let Cape Town be that city that breaks the trend of tolerance towards the current levels of unemployment in favour of growing a larger sustainable market. We need to be a city and region that believes that we can at least half the levels of unemployment from its current 23% by 2030. That equates to roughly an additional 40,000 new jobs each year for the next 15 years.

For how long have you lived in Cape Town?

I spent the first 16 years of my life in Cape Town. I grew up in the streets of Kenwyn and spent my teenage years in Bergvliet, Meadowridge.  I now commute between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

What is your favourite place to visit in Cape Town?

I love nature, and for me there is no better forest to walk through than Newlands Forest. Having had the privilege as a child to frequent Kirstenbosch on school trips, I have had many opportunities to hike through the mountains in Cape Town. Nothing has ever come close to beating that experience.

How would you describe your ideal Saturday afternoon in the city?

With a coastline as beautiful as the one we have, it’s not too difficult to find a spot to dine out, looking over the beautiful ocean. The smell of the sea breeze and good wine always makes for great afternoons with friends and family.

What would you choose as a tag line for Cape Town (as a business city)?


Whom do you most admire in the business world?

Anton Rupert stands out for me as a great leader, visionary and courageous businessman.


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