A hundred ways in a 100 days – Thabo Phokane, Servest’s newly appointed Group Chief Financial Officer talks about the company’s progress within South Africa’s current economy
Johannesburg 31 October 2018 – In the one hundred days of holding office in his new position, Thabo Phokane has had his days cut out for him, in more ways than he imagined. It is no easy task to oversee the finances of such a big organisation that has a strong African footprint. During his time in office, he oversaw the sale of the UK business, which follows RMB Corvest’s partnership with the Servest Group. “While it is said that Servest aims to become a top investor in Africa, it made sense for us to exit the UK, as the country builds towards its autonomy, known as Brexit ”, says Phokane.
During his first 100 days, Thabo strengthened relations with the shareholders, consolidated and restructured the finance teams, met with internal stakeholders, took over the Mergers and Acquisitions portfolio and navigated the waters of streamlining the overall business. Thabo, together with the senior management team, was also tasked with managing the streamlining of the entire SA operation, to position it favourably for future growth and sustainability. In so doing, collaboration within Servest’s various business divisions was enhanced and a group-wide shared services model was strengthened.
Thabo says, “according to Statistics SA, South Africa has entered a recession, with the economy contracting by 0.7% quarter-on-quarter.”When this happens, companies react in different ways, for us, it meant trimming the fat off our overhead structure. This ensured that the business remains competitive, especially in this tough economic environment, where customers are in turn looking for good quality service at the best possible rates.
However, all is not doom and gloom. As we are already in a recession, add to that the effects of drought in the Western Cape, together with the job shortages in the country, Servest, in implementing the streamlining of the business, had to find new ways to absorb as many of the people that would have been affected by job losses. In so doing, the majority of those colleagues whose jobs were potentially at risk, were placed in other divisions and provided with the opportunity to acquire new skills. This allowed them to keep their jobs and at the same time be trained in a different (to what they know) division, within the company. The company has allocated a major portion of its training budget to this internal skills development drive, which promulgates Servest’s commitment to ensuring the continued livelihood of its people.
Phokane says that his open-door policy and collaborative leadership style has greatly enhanced the team cohesiveness and is creating a culture of transparency, which together with action and follow-ups, are major drivers in building relationships and trust with clients and colleagues alike. This, Phokane says, speaks directly to Servest’s vision of being an innovative specialist solutions company that deliver business value to its customers, thus allowing them to focus on their core business, in a way that creates sustainable stakeholder value.
“We are more than just a solutions company, we are in the business of people, for they are the ones that make things happen”, says Thabo.
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