500 NEWS

Michael Ratcliffe is a respected figure in local and global wine industries. He was nominated for the USA Wine Star Award for Global Innovator of the Year in 2015 and 2017. Michael is also the founding trustee of the fundraiser Cape Wine Auction, and founder of Rootstock – organisations heavily invested in education. He is a founding partner of the joint US/South African luxury wine venture Vilafonté established in 2002, and in 2018 was elected Chairman of Stellenbosch Wine Routes.

Describe your leadership style.
Leadership is best translated through inspiration and from action. I find my leadership most powerful when I am able to lead from the front.

Your top tip to beat procrastination?
Just do it. The best way to start something is to just start it. Making proactive mistakes is always better than stagnating and making no mistakes at all.

Favourite getaway destination?
Stellenbosch wine country

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by great leaders who have challenged convention, defied the status quo and who have risen up against insurmountable challenges.

What is the one thing most people don’t know about you?
I am a qualified Yacht Master through the Royal Yachting Association in the UK and have successfully navigated a number of Atlantic Crossings.

What would you do with an extra hour in your day?
I would spend it with my family.

Trevor Manuel gives Ryland Fisher an earnest interview on the struggle years, the Zuma era and the future as he sees it.

Despite his reservations, he remains positive about South Africa.

“I can’t be negative about the country. I don’t have a foot in any other country. I don’t own property in any other country. I don’t carry the passport of any other country. My family is here. I’m very confident. There’s no question about the deep commitment that we have to South Africa. If you have this commitment, you have to look at where you can influence the situation and improve on the observations that we make and share with many other people.”

Get the latest copy of Top 500 Best Managed Companies to read the full interview. Contact daniel.bouwer@topco.co.za to get your copy.

As the baby boomer generation enters the end phase of their working lives, the newest generation of workers, millennials, are entering the working world in vast numbers. This new generation, born between 1980 and 2000, are very different to their ‘generation X’ and ‘baby boomer’ predecessors; they have different career expectations and are motivated by different things.

Considering the fact that by 2020 millennials will make up 50% of the global workforce, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report Millennials at work: Reshaping the work space, it is critical that employers adapt their policies to attract and retain this influential generation of employees, poised to reshape the world of work.

Attracting the next generation of talent
A good place to start when it comes to understanding what appeals to millennials is to look at the companies considered pioneers in crafting an entirely new kind of company culture.

An international example of such a company is Facebook. Having worked at their San Francisco office for a year, Phillips paints a picture of this new approach to company culture.

“Facebook certainly challenges the previous generation’s approach to the office culture and have grown an incredible culture of their own,” he says. “For me, the big thing they do is to focus on making sure that their employees have everything they needed to do their jobs, including all the small things.

Engineers have the freedom to explore interesting product ideas; managers aren’t there to micro-manage, they are there to move your ideas forward. The campus has incredible on-site facilities such as a gym, arcades, restaurants, and a sweet shop.

Employers need to shift focus in terms of the benefits offered to employees; to offer new opportunities for growth and development, ways for employees to work their way up the ladder faster if they are willing to earn it, and mentorship from more senior employees. Mix teams generationally.

Let employees learn from one other and see things from new perspectives. Give millennials the freedom they crave to get the job done unconstrained by rigid work styles. Give them positive and helpful feedback in real time – and then stand back and watch them grow.

Ultimately, employers need to understand millennials and plan ahead when it comes to new recruitment and management policies. With this understanding comes the acknowledgment that millennials may not stick around as long as previous generations. They are always looking
for ways in which to advance their careers, which means that employers should expect them to move on, and plan accordingly.

What do millennials wnat?
It’s not all about the money for millennials. So what else is important to them?

  • Fast progression: The opportunity to learn as much as they can in order to fast-track their careers.
  • Flexibility: The freedom to work where and how best suits them, as long as they get the work done.
  • A work/life balance: They will work hard when it counts, but millennials are aware that work is not the sum total of their existence.
  • Travel opportunities: Most millennials would like their job to include some overseas work experience.
  • Regular feedback and praise: Annual performance reviews are just too infrequent for millennials. They prefer to know how they’re doing much more regularly, and how they can improve.
  • Common values: Millennials look for employers with corporate social responsibility values that match their own.

  • Democracy: They like to feel like their opinions are heard.
  • As elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) continue to permeate more areas of our lives through global hyperconnectivity, digitisation is shaping the way business is conducted while bringing new developments in industry and changes in how services and products are offered.

    Let’s take a look at some of the trends for 2019.

    Reskilling for the digital age with closer alignment between educational qualifications and institutions with workplace
    In the digital age, the rate of change within the workplace has far outpaced the ability of universities to adapt formal curricula to meet these requirements. As a result, the “non-accredited” online short course arena will be used to fulfill the need for digital skills within the workplace, particularly in areas like cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

    Another key area is that of the Internet of Things (IoT) where billions of devices can communicate via sharing and collecting data via internet connectivity – from computers, cellphones, security systems, to home appliances which can be programmed remotely to sensors which alert a driver to adjust tyre pressure or any physical object (natural or man-made) connected to the internet and with an IP address. CVs populated with micro-credentials of these skills and workplace experience will increase in importance.

    Formal educational arena
    In the formal educational arena, educational institutions will need to align themselves more closely to commerce and industry. Formal educational providers will move to implementing graduate programmes geared towards workplace practicalities. Companies will look to hire graduates who are able to display a combination of formal skills and the ability to apply these skills in the digital world.

    Disruption of employment via IoT
    Driverless cars, automation being applied to various industries like call centre operators, stockbroking, automated farming operations etc. will result in a complete disruption of the formal employment sectors as we currently understand them. This will lead to a migration of people looking for new skills and new careers. Researchers estimate that within the next 5 years more than half the existing jobs will need reskilling by adopting new technologies and retraining of individuals into new careers.

    Consumer data facilitates personalised commercial experiences
    Greater emphasis on personalising commercial initiatives based on big data analysis of consumer data integrated from multiple sources. Consumer choice has expanded significantly due to online suppliers who are able to supply products irrespective of geographical limitations, coupled with ability of the consumer to research products and features in an online mode. As a result, personalisation of products and services will become a greater differentiator in the supply chain.

    Disruption of traditional banking
    Digital banking options will continue to disrupt the traditional banking arena with multiple players offering personalised banking solutions, from cell phone companies through to social media giants offering mobile banking applications and multiple payment gateways.

    Increased importance of cybersecurity to prevent fraud and abuse of data as the world gets more connected and ability to hack systems for financial gain becomes more prevalent. Cybersecurity will become a key consideration when developing new systems so that it’s an intrinsic part of a company rather than an after-thought in response to a particular cyber threat.

    We are living in exciting times where digitisation is opening up new opportunities for growth and development with an emphasis on a big data-derived customised experience which drives service.

    One thing’s for sure and that is whatever happens, digitisation is going to be at the core. The year promises to bring new innovations as more people take advantage of digitisation and the 4IR.

    Hold onto your seats. It’s going to be an exciting ride.

    South Africa’s nascent gin culture has seen exponential growth over the last couple of years, evident from the variety of gin bars and brands (both local and international) to be found, in Cape Town specifically. We unpack some of the trends in the industry.

    Commenting on the global evolution of gin over the last couple of years, Travis Tober, global brand ambassador for Aviation American Gin, says, “The global gin market is on fire! The Asian market, especially, has embraced gin very quickly. With gin-focused bars in the region, there’s absolutely no slowing down.”

    With so many an offering in the market, it’s important that brands distinguish themselves from competitors out there. “It’s imperative to stand out from the crowd,” says Travis. “With our gin, for example, we pioneered the ‘American’ or ‘western’ style: lighter juniper with the other botanicals working together. Our gin was also the first to be made with cocktails.”

    Travis says one of the most interesting pairings is a glass of gin on the rocks with a lemon peel and buttered movie popcorn. “I know it sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely fabulous and really makes the movie-going experience way better.”

    Travis’s top two gin trends

  • Old Tom will make a comeback. It first started coming back, but it was too early in the gin renaissance that people’s pallets weren’t ready for the complex taste.
  • Gin and club soda will be the go-to drink. My recipe: 443ml gin, 740ml Fever Tree club soda, a lime wedge and a green olive.
  • By Anton Pretorius

    He’s been called many things: charismatic, blunt, controversial, notorious, genius, ‘South Africa’s Donald Trump,’ and more commonly, the ‘Sun King’. But despite what you might think of South Africa’s most famous billionaire and legendary hotelier, Sol Kerzner remains undoubtedly, a true business visionary.

    The sweet fruits of my persistence came via a phone call from London on a cold and miserable morning in the Mother City. It was the empire headquarters. After weeks of relentless nagging, I finally crack an interview with arguably one of the world’s most revered and renowned business tycoons.

    I’m summoned to his lair in Hout Bay. “Don’t be late,” came the warning from his private office in London. The lush and opulent 120-hectare Leeukoppie Estate, purchased by Sol in 1983 for little less than R3-million (Ed – barely the price of a two-bed in Sea Point today) is nestled snugly between the seaside villages of Llandudno and Hout Bay, the playground of South Africa’s elite.

    Describe your leadership style?

    A leader is someone who would do whatever is necessary to ensure they’re surrounded by the best possible team. A team that can effectively communicate with personnel will get the best out of any business. People form a business. I always made a point of recognising the good work of staff. Surround yourself with the right people and understand your product.

    How important is tourism for the economy?

    It’s very important. Take Sun City for example. We worked closely with government at the time, as it was in both our interests. It built a town and created thousands of jobs for people from surrounding communities. The Atlantis resort in the Bahamas was the country’s biggest employer after the government.

    Your biggest wish for South Africa?

    My biggest wish is for political stability. Things are very uncertain at the moment. This is a country with great resources and natural beauty. Good leadership is key if you want to inspire confidence and see the country flourish.

    Advice for aspiring hoteliers?

    Be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way through to the top. It’s a valuable learning curve. In a business that operates 24/7, you need to be unquestionably dedicated and excited about what you do. Get the best possible experience and learn from it. It also helps to be creative if you want to stay ahead of the competition. BE A LEADER, NOT A FOLLOWER.

    By Pieter Scholtz, ActionCOACH SA Director

    2019 brings about many exciting opportunities, notwithstanding the many changes that business is not only driving, but having to face. Outlined below are some the of the trends that will shape the business world in the year ahead.

    Customer service
    Consumers are sitting in the privileged position in that not only do they have an increasing choice of products to choose from, but they also have access to unprecedented amounts of information related to the products concerned.

    Customer service will become increasingly important in an era where cost effective delivery, pricing, choice and availability of products across a number of channels will drive uniqueness.

    Customer user experience will also become increasingly important.

    Personalisation of marketing
    Developing marketing messages that build genuine relationships with customers will become key, as customers become increasingly sophisticated and discerning. With the growing use of AI and algorithms across business platforms, customers make purchase decisions based on the quality of the relationships built – this is not something that technology can replace.

    Decisions based increasingly on customer reviews
    With the rising implementation of online customer reviews, more future clients are basing their purchase decisions on the online product reviews for a wider range of products. Companies and brands will have to ensure that they obtain customer reviews, as well as make them available for future customers to review online before making a purchasing decision.

    Digital banking platforms
    A massive trend towards digital banking platforms will continue to disrupt the traditional banking model. Customers want more access and control over how they bank, plus where and which platform they bank from.

    Here we will see an increasing use of algorithms that will enable new banking platforms to tailor make products based on customer data that has been collected.

    The future of the office is in danger
    There is a greater demand to spend less time commuting and given the access to high speed internet, employees will want to be able to work increasingly from remote places.

    This will also break the traditional model of work as we know it, where employees want to be able to control when they work, resulting in a focus towards measuring outcome and delivery, rather than time spent at work.

    Data privacy
    Over the last year we have seen a number of breaches in data privacy by large corporates, resulting in consumers becoming increasing aware of how their personal data is being used. This will place mounting pressure on companies that collect data to ensure that consumer data is being strongly protected.

    Mental health in the workplace
    The advancement in technology and access to workplace systems have resulted in the proliferation of people never switching off. This has resulted in a significant surge in mental health issues in the workplace. This year will see an intensified focus on managing metal health in the workplace, providing a happy working environment.

    Mental health has been reported as one of the fastest, if not the fastest, health trends globally. In order to retain top performers and manage employee costs, companies will have to give added attention to this trend in 2019 and beyond.

    2018 was most definitely the year in which AI and Machine Learning (ML) took the lion’s share of technology media headlines. Like social media, virtual reality, drones, and cloud services before them, the impending doom of AI robots taking our jobs drew conference audiences, filled social feeds and consumed traditional media channels.

    But, in a recent seminar in Johannesburg, David Park, actuarial consultant at Emerge, proposed a more fact-based view, “There are some jobs which AI and ML do better than humans and some jobs, at the moment, which humans do better.”

    Neil Rankin of Predictive Insights explains, “Identifying regular trends is difficult for humans, particularly if there are lots of overlapping patterns. What this means is that people see patterns where there are none and fail to see those that are there. This means that, for things like staffing and stocking, there are unnecessary inefficiencies that can be solved through data. In addition, some employees are often asked to do things they are not very good at, like analytics, when they were hired to manage a team and interacting with customers. It’s surprising how many resources, energy and time can be misdirected to meet an objective.”

    To prove this, Predictive Insights, a subsidiary of the Alphawave Group, decided to pitch (hu)man versus machine for one of their clients, Hungry Lion, a quick-service restaurant chain with almost 200 branches in a number of African countries. Using a demand forecasting tool from Predictive Insights’ suite of machine learning and econometric models, they used the client’s store-level sales data, as well as external data pertinent to their industry – such as weather, local economic conditions or days of the week – to more accurately predict sales per day at an individual store level. This then compared the model’s accuracy to the predictions made by experienced branch managers with surprising results.

    An early version of demand forecasting models predicted sales within 20% of actual sales on more than three-quarters of individual store-days, whereas less than half of branch managers were able to reach the same benchmark. The employees in the competition couldn’t beat the machine when the target was within 50% of actual sales – only 87% of branch managers reached this level of accuracy whilst the machine bettered it every time.

    The machine’s accuracy also improved with time, as it started to learn more about the patterns in the data. The model now routinely predicts over 80% of stores within 20% of actual sales.

    “Feedback from branch managers showed that they also liked the tool – instead of expending their time and cognitive energy on forecasting fortnightly sales, they were able to focus on ensuring each store ran smoothly, using the expertise they were originally hired for” Rankin explains.

    “Most importantly this impacts the bottom line. We were able to increase staff efficiencies to the extent that it will equate to R2.6 million in the year.”

    At the same time, the sales forecasts per store, per time period, over the short-term (usually a 14-day period) had a direct impact on preparing food, ordering stock and changing prices too. “Less waste, less waiting time, more availability, and happy customers,” he adds.

    Rankin echoes Park’s words that AI and Machine Learning can do great things for humans, and that humans can also do jobs better than AI. “The actual reality is that when human insight and experience lay a robust, intelligent foundation for the technology, apply the strategic findings in iterative loops, that’s when the investment delivers a financial return. The reality is that humans AI and will work best when they work together.”

    By Prof. Adré Schreuder, CVO of Consulta

    Customer experience is not a new concept, but an ever-advancing cycle. Although we now have new digital tools at our disposal, the tactics used by brands in marketing strategies over the last few years are the product of decades of customer research.

    Even the terms used to describe the concept have changed with the times, from customer service to satisfaction to experience and even some calling it customer engagement. Changes aside, the core premise behind the concept remains the same – to the point where customer experience has become a repetitive and predictable cycle. Brands that have experienced success and prolonged customer loyalty are those that managed to better understand what customers really want – something they themselves struggle with.

    For instance, people can now scan and renew car licence discs using a mobile banking app, get product or service support from AI-powered chatbots, and pay for pretty much anything by simply scanning a QR code with their smart phone.

    The premise is simple: brands that keep customers happy will succeed. It’s the strategies they implement and the actions they take to keep customers happy that are in constant flux in the relationship between brand and customer.

    Getting the basics right
    Getting the basics right is vital before implementing the ‘clever’ tactics and this has always been and continues to be the case. Brands that have managed to stand the test time are those that understood this from the start, constantly realigning their strategies to ensure they’re getting the basics right.

    For example, a visit to any McDonalds restaurant anywhere in the world could be classified as a predictable experience. The cashier greets you, takes your order, asks if you’d like to upsize your meal, takes your money and thanks you for your business. This has been the case since Ray Kroc opened the first McDonalds franchise store in 1955, setting a benchmark as one of the earliest examples of great customer experience – and it’s the still the case today. This simple formula has been expanded in the last 20 years, with brands realising the need to delve deeper into the minds and hearts of customers to better understand their needs, wants and desires.

    The science of human nature
    Once the basics are mastered, brands can better focus their attention on putting themselves in the customer’s shoes – better understanding the minds of customers and the complexity of decision-making.

    This is how neuroscience entered the fray – a scientific field of study dealing with the structure and function of the human brain, and how these factors influence a person’s decision-making process. Marketers realised the value in using neuroscientific principles to gather more meaningful data about customers to deliver products and services in more direct, relatable and context-mindful ways. This has allowed those brands who better understand the neuroscience of customer perception and behaviour to design carefully planned customer experience journeys that are much more considerate to real human emotion and connection than ever before.

    Coca-Cola is a great example of this, with taglines like ‘Open Happiness’ and ‘Taste the Feeling’, and activations like the Happiness Machine that dispensed free beverages when people gave each other hugs in real life. The birth of neuromarketing was an important development in the evolution of customer experience because it made way for a new era of marketing, giving brands the ability to engage with their customers on a more human level.

    From collaboration to co-creation
    Similarly, thanks to neuroscience, brands developed a better understanding of the customer’s position and perspective. Acknowledging that customers were increasingly and constantly bombarded with new information and offerings, we reached a point where they needed to be guided in the direction of what they wanted from a product or service. This important realisation gave rise to the concept of co-creation, where brands would essentially request the customer to help create and customise products according to their unique individual preferences. This would be the start of the era of ‘mass personalisation’ – a pivotal part of every brand’s marketing strategy today. Journey designers of intangible service offerings can become much more effective by understanding that a service is essentially ‘manufactured’ and consumed by the customer at the same time – this is truly co-creation.

    One of the best examples of this is the Build-a-Bear franchise – instead of mass-producing the same stuffed toys, this brand gave customers the ability to customise one in any way they fancied, from choosing the colour and size of the bear to picking out a special outfit of their choosing. This is when brands really started to hone in on customer experience, providing end users with a say in how their products look and feel, and adding value and meaning to the brand-customer interaction.

    The rise of digital
    As social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat gained popularity, many brands did the logical thing by hopping on board the social train. Joining this new digital wave allowed them to harness the power of social media to reach, interact and engage with their target markets in a more ‘human’ way. Advances in digital technology have allowed marketers to strengthen their arsenal, not only driving the neuromarketing campaigns previously touched on, and developing a real repertoire with audiences, but to more importantly offering customers the convenience and efficiency they now demand.

    As we know today, even the best social media tactics and campaigns are meaningless without the ability to measure the return on investment. Brands needed to know if their digital efforts aligned to business objectives – whether ‘likes’ equate to a favourable effect on the business’s bottom line. The solution could be found in Big Data, allowing brands to gather, analyse and learn from various points in the customer journey. This includes everything from internet browsing habits and online behaviour to deep and meaningful aspects of a person’s life, all gleaned from a series of AI-powered algorithms.

    Brands that failed to keep up were promptly shown the virtual door – remember that smart phone brand that just wouldn’t let go of its frustratingly tiny qwerty keyboard interface? Or the toy company we all know and love, now shutting its doors in America as a result of failing to innovate.

    Customer experience has come a long way in what seems like a relatively short space of time. We’ve seen brands grow tremendously through their quest to meet the basic expectations of the consumer, surprise them with a few clever and memorable marketing tactics here and there, and discover everything there is to know about them too. The real question now is, where do we go from here? If we’ve learned anything from the last 20 years or so, it’s that the customer is the one who determines the way forwards for brands – and brands better start listening.

    In a disruptive era, we often only focus on game-changing technologies, but the ripple effect of those disruptive technologies has started to blur the lines of how we live, work and play. Direct from the Lifestyle pages of our upcoming tenth-anniversary collector’s edition, here’s Dion Chang on five mega-trends that will change the way you live (and think) in the next five years.

    1.Digital Mobility

    The concept of “transient ownership” – the fact that you don’t need to own something in order to use it – is permeating into an older generation’s mindset, but it is already firmly entrenched with millennials as well as Gen Z’s. Ride sharing services like Uber, have already convinced some people to ditch car ownership completely, or persuaded couples to only invest in one car. The domino effect of the sharing economy, on related industries like insurance, car rental and parking is already raising alarms, but it is also creating new, on-demand delivery services and logistics opportunities, specifically in food retail.

    2.The #FreeFrom Movement

    We’re increasingly ordering-in our food (cooked or uncooked), but what we’re eating is changing. Fast. The #FreeFrom movement – ie; free from gluten, free from lactose, etc – has spawned a global shift towards plant-based diets. It is a dual cause driven by allergies, as well as sustainability issues, and the vanguard of the movement is a younger generation. Gen Z in particular.

    3.Gen Z (people born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s)

    If you thought millennials were difficult – as customers, as well as a workforce – then brace yourselves. The first generation of digital natives are coming of age. They are a post-9/11 and a post-Great Recession generation who have been handed a broken system: environmentally, economically and politically. As such, they are guided by a strong sense of social justice and this impacts on their brand loyalty, as well as who they want to work for (if indeed they take on traditional careers – see trend 5).

    4.Value Based Business

    A global survey by Havas Worldwide found that 68% of respondents believe that corporate business now bears equal responsibility, with governments, to drive positive social change. Political strategist Doug Hattaway elaborates: “More and more businesses are being forced to become value driven, rather than sales driven.” It’s no longer just about selling a product, it’s about what that company stands for. For businesses previously fixated on the bottom line and keeping shareholders happy, this is a deeply uncomfortable shift, but a crucial one they are being forced to make.”

    5.The GIG economy

    The GIG economy, spawned in conjunction with the sharing economy, is a foreign concept for baby boomers, but a logical alternative when you consider the trajectory of the future of work and new business models. Technology has made the concept of 9-to-5, 40-hour work week a quaint relic of the 20th century. Digital nomads (aka remote workers) are now being referred to as “the new elite”. They are “wealthy” in terms of time and place (work anywhere, anytime), but not material goods. They don’t need them. The sharing economy has that box ticked.

    Dion Chang is the founder of Flux Trends. For more information on trends as business strategy,
    visit www.fluxtrends.com.

    2018 Has proved a big year for Old Mutual’s Wealth and Investment cluster. In this exclusive interview we take a look back – and a look ahead – with Managing Director David Macready.

    In May, Old Mutual Investment Group was named not just South Africa’s Best Managed Company in Financial Services but the country’s Best Managed Company of the Year,
    at the Top 500 Awards. How did you feel accepting the trophy?

    I was enormously proud when accepting this trophy, because I saw it as validation of the quality we have built and the talent and intellectual property that contribute to it being such a great business to be part of. It is this talent that has enabled us to build a world-class investment company that sustainably delivers investment performance to our clients.

    The award confirmed the success of our multi-boutique asset manager structure, which gives our investment professionals the independence to invest with focus and conviction. Our structure ultimately ensures that their interests are aligned with those of our clients given that they have ownership stakes in their boutiques and that they are invested alongside their clients  in the funds that they manage. Together, these various elements have positioned Old Mutual Investment Group as the leading asset manager in South Africa it is today, as recognised by the two awards we received from Top 500.

    Then, in June, Old Mutual Limited (the holding company of Old Mutual Investment Group), historically relisted on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. How did this ‘African homecoming’
    feel for you, personally?

     It’s been a hugely momentous time for us and another reason to feel proud. The JSE listing of Old Mutual Limited represented the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication to the end goal of bringing Old Mutual, a South African household name, back home. The listing also firmly supports one of Old Mutual Investment Group’s missions: to invest sustainably for a future that matters across Africa. We already do this by investing substantially in infrastructure, housing, schools, education and agriculture in South Africa and across the African continent but, with the Group’s primary focus now firmly on Africa, we will be able to put even more energy and passion behind this.

    Would you concur that the listing indicated top-level confidence at Old Mutual, in both South African and southern African economic prospects?

     Most definitely. The timing of the listing couldn’t have been better given the recent boost in confidence from SA’s new leadership and a refocus on Investment growth within the economy. However, while the renewed confidence has given the economy a reprieve, albeit short-lived, substantial structural reform is still needed if we are to materially improve our economic prospects. Within this context Old Mutual and Old Mutual Investment Group are committed to partnering with Government and other stakeholders in investing towards the greater good of South Africa and Africa more broadly.

    Going back to the Group’s Top 500 Awards accolades, how important is it to recognise and promote ethical and astute management, specifically in the South African context?

    The role that asset managers play in South Africa’s economic future should be reflected in the way in which they put the investment capital of their clients to work. Responsible investment is a crucial priority for the country, particularly against the backdrop of our current economic environment and the ethical challenges it has faced over the last decade. As asset managers we invest for the long-term and constantly seek sustainable investment opportunities that take Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations into account.

    When it comes to investment in SA companies, corporate governance is key. We believe it is important to understand the ethos of what really drives a company, how employees are rewarded and how they are measured. The cases we’ve seen in the market of late have been stark reminders of the need to apply not only an investment lens when considering investment opportunities, but also the principles of responsible investing.

    While delivering market-beating returns for its clients, how does Old Mutual Investment Group benefit the communities in which it invests?

    We pride ourselves in being leaders in responsible investment, with the aim of generating sustainable market-beating returns for our clients over the long term. Old Mutual Investment Group has invested over R20 billion to address gaps in social infrastructure through affordable housing and quality education. We believe in the need to invest with the aim of making a significant impact for the broader national community and we have seen some powerful success stories in this regard.

    Our private equity involvement in toll roads, has created close to 1 000 jobs, for example, and we are exceptionally proud of initiatives such as the Early Childhood Development Programme, driven by Cookhouse, an investment in the Old Mutual IDEAS Fund, which aims to provide quality child care and access to education for children between the ages of 0 and 6 years among Eastern Cape communities.

    Looking ahead now, give us a glimpse into the vision for the next five-ten years, at Old Mutual Investment Group?We see enormous growth potential ahead for this business, particularly given our investment performance momentum, client-friendly investment platforms and full range of listed and unlisted investment solutions. Our growth and market share gains are particularly evident in the retail space, as well as the unlisted alternative investments, multi-asset and fixed income arenas.

    Ultimately, we are backed by a trusted brand, a significant balance sheet and key distribution strength, which are all key attributes for being successful. Our business is well positioned as a growth lever for the newly listed Old Mutual Limited as we continue to gain market share in pivotal market areas and we look forward to seeing where the future takes us.

    Let’s end off with your personal management philosophy.

    In my experience, there are three critical components that underpin successful leadership or management: vision, belief and passion. These have been the common characteristics of history’s greatest leaders and are relevant to today’s leadership from government, to labour, to business.

    Truly remarkable leadership should demonstrate the ability to see the bigger picture, the resolute belief in your capacity to steer the ship and, ultimately, the passion that creates a sense that you are part of something bigger than yourself.

    Effective leadership also means connecting and identifying with those that you lead and this should be built on reciprocal trust. Every leader should earn the conviction of those they lead that they have the team’s best interests at heart and that they genuinely believe in your ability to deliver excellence.

    All boats rise with a tide; leadership is only really challenged when the tide goes out. Leadership takes courage, the courage to move forward and make the hard, but necessary decisions. Leaders should constantly change the game and to do this they have to learn, unlearn and relearn.

    True leaders should therefore have a strong awareness of self and others in order to make impactful decisions.

    Visit Old Mutual Investment Group.

    How does South Africa research and rank its vaunted Top 500 best-managed companies every year?

    This year, the top 5 South African companies across 100 sectors, from Coal to Business Colleges, will once again be listed 

    in the index of our eagerly-anticipated tenth anniversary collector’s edition (a brief overview here), set to be read and referenced by 10 000+ key decision makers in business and government, throughout the 2019  financial year.

    What leads to a company being placed first in its sector?


    The qualification is strictly research-based, using objective criteria designed in conjunction with UCT’s Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU), against which roughly 2 000 prominent companies are measured every year. Morne Oosthuizen, DPRU Deputy Director, explains that in order to place top of their sector, companies must excel in three key spheres, namely financial performance, empowerment, and policy and accreditation.


    Financial performance speaks to the nature of top companies being large, growing and productive institutions; leaders by virtue of their size and dynamism. It is also measured by four indicators: turnover, rate of turnover growth, rand turnover growth and turnover per employee.

    Size is both an indicator and an outcome of whether or not a company is a top company.

    Turnover is used to proxy company size and this indicator has large weight within the measure. The dynamism of top companies is reflected in their ability to expand and grow, and so two indicators are included – one relative, one absolute – of growth in the score sheet. The former is the rate of turnover growth over the year – since top companies are faster growing – while the latter is the rand value of that turnover growth. Absolute turnover growth is included to account for the fact that top companies’ growth should make a large contribution to increased total output. These two indicators have a medium weight within the scoring system. Top companies are more productive than other companies and the final performance indicator, turnover per employee, which has a medium weight, speaks to this characteristic.

    Delving deeper, our researchers assess how companies promote equity and social transformation. Top companies are committed to fulfilling this role, and this commitment is measured using six criteria. Two focus on companies’ commitment to the goal of transformation as demonstrated in their employment profiles, namely the shares of employment accounted for by female employees and by black employees respectively.

    Top companies, however, go further than just employment and are demonstrably committed to greater diversity at the level of management and control. The proportions of black and female executive and non-executive directors are evaluated to complete scoring for this sphere.

    Wider afield, top companies are involved within communities and are committed to improving the universal quality of life for the society they operate in. This sphere of policy and accreditation accounts for the remainder of the total score. In gauging companies’ engagement and involvement in communities, their total spend on corporate social investment activities relative to net profit is measured. Companies are also judged on the existence of written policies regarding employment equity, skills development, health and safety, HIV/Aids, and the environment. The final criterion within this sphere, commitment to quality, is proxied by the number of SABS-approved accreditations held by companies.

    For more details on our research, e-mail Head of Research Sandra.Bock@Topco.co.za.