How to turn good business into excellent business
The South African business landscape is characterised by a lack of inspired leadership and a fear of innovation, which is hampering growth and holding back many companies and organisations from achieving outstanding successes and making a much-needed difference to society.
This is the opinion of Professor Walter Baets, Director of Africa’s top business school, the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB). Professor Baets said too many CEOs and managers seem to lack the ability or motivation to truly make a difference to communities desperately in need of change and improved services.
“People are always worrying about the bottom line, there seems to be only an interest in profit. We don’t seem to understand that when we pay more attention to the other lines, then the bottom line will follow. When we add value, then the other lines fall in place,” said Professor Baets.
Baets is the co-convenor of a masterclass at the UCT GSB called The Excellence Leap, aimed at any kind of manager or CEO, even politicians or community leaders, who may be doing a good job at their company or organisation but want to take the next step of adding value.
He said: “Perhaps they feel there is more potential in the company; they see an opportunity to do more but don’t necessarily know how to get there.”
Erna Oldenboom, Baets’ co-convenor said the programme is not a leadership programme as it is not about becoming a better leader. Instead it is a unique masterclass for anyone who has ever thought, or felt, that there must be a way to do what they do better – and with more meaning.
“An intensive two-day process, it takes delegates on a tour de force through complexity theory, quantum mechanics, neural networks and living systems biology. It gives them a penetrating insight into themselves and their organisations, and equips them with a practical tool to assist them in lifting their performance to the next level – to make, in short, the excellence leap,” she said.
The Excellence Leap is an executive education course at the UCT GSB.
Kumeshnee West, Acting Director of executive education at the UCT GSB, said: “Our programmes are designed to address unique challenges in specific organisations, they offer participants the opportunity for authentic development, enabling them to make their organisations more viable and to deliver exceptional value,”
“If you don’t know where to go, you can go anywhere and every road is a good enough road,” said Professor Baets. “The course’s two days will ensure that participants choose the right road to excellence, he said.
It is important for participants to come with an open mind and a willingness to explore new ways or ideas otherwise they won’t learn anything, he adds. “What you get out is what you are willing to put in.
If you are willing to challenge yourself and the accepted ways, then this specific course is extremely useful. You will learn to really look at yourself and your business and see things you never saw before,” said Professor Baets.
For more information about the Excellence Leap Masterclass please contact Sharman May on +27 (0) 21 406 1248 or email[email protected].
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.