‘The best way to mo­ti­vate peo­ple is to em­power them’

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG - By SO­PHIE HE in Hong Kong so­phiehe@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

CEO of De Beers Group

Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group, be­gan his ca­reer in the le­gal sec­tor in South Africa be­fore join­ing the world’s lead­ing di­a­mond pro­ducer.

The 51-year-old, who now lives in Lon­don, stud­ied maths and then law at the Univer­sity of Cape Town be­fore earn­ing a master’s in law at the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge. Be­fore join­ing De Beers, he was a part­ner at Web­ber Wentzel, Africa’s largest law firm, spe­cial­iz­ing in com­mer­cial mat­ters.

“I spent 15 years of my life as a part­ner in a cor­po­rate law firm at Johannesburg, South Africa — De Beers was al­ways a client of mine.”

Cleaver then joined De Beers as gen­eral coun­sel in 2005, be­com­ing com­mer­cial direc­tor in 2007. In 2010 he was ap­pointed co-act­ing CEO of De Beers, be­com­ing an ex­ec­u­tive head re­spon­si­ble for strat­egy, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, cor­po­rate af­fairs and tech­nolo­gies in 2011. He was named CEO of De Beers Group on July 1, 2016.

“De Beers is such a won­der­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion; it gives peo­ple the chance to do things. I was given the chance of var­i­ous com­mer­cial roles, which also led me to my cur­rent job.”

It has been a long ca­reer pro­gres­sion, but it has been in a com­pany that is pre­pared to in­vest in peo­ple and let them grow into big­ger roles, Cleaver says.

The great­est as­set of the com­pany re­mains its tremen­dous prod­ucts, he says, as the glam­orous di­a­monds are what peo­ple strive for. But for De Beers (or any busi­ness) to suc­ceed, it must in­vest in the right peo­ple.

“De Beers is very good at pick­ing peo­ple, grow­ing peo­ple and pro­mot­ing peo­ple. For me, the crit­i­cal piece is to have the right peo­ple here with me to do the job, as ul­ti­mately, that is go­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate you from your com­peti­tors.”

Cleaver says the best way to mo­ti­vate peo­ple is to em­power them. This means mak­ing sure that em­ploy­ees have goals that they un­der­stand and agree with, then em­pow­er­ing them to achieve suc­cess rather than try­ing to do it your­self.

“To me, I think that’s the sin­gle most im­por­tant way of get­ting peo­ple to de­liver.”

As part of its re­cruit­ment strat­egy, aca­demic ex­cel­lence is not the only trait De Beers is look­ing for, Cleaver ex­plains. It is also about what re­cruits can bring to the busi­ness: if they are will­ing to take ini­tia­tive, have team­work skills, an in­no­va­tive per­son­al­ity and how much they can grow.

The di­a­mond in­dus­try presents an en­tic­ing ca­reer op­tion for young­sters, he says, us­ing De Beers as an ex­am­ple. The firm of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clud­ing ex­plo­ration, min­ing, rough sells, brand­ing, re­tail and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. On the con­sumer side, it cov­ers the whole value chain, which is what makes it an ex­cit­ing busi­ness.

“I will def­i­nitely en­cour­age peo­ple to join the busi­ness.”

Ad­vice Cleaver gives for as­pir­ing youth is to set goals and to be­lieve you can de­liver them. Hav­ing a “can do” at­ti­tude will hold you in good stead, and you will be amazed of what you can achieve, he says.


Bruce Cleaver, De Beers, global in­dus­try leader of the tra­di­tion-bound di­a­mond busi­ness, has moved to adapt to the chang­ing land­scape of a con­sumer­based econ­omy. Its group CEO says the firm has pinned high hopes on the pur­chas­ing power of Chi­nese con­sumers, es­pe­cially the “mil­len­nial” gen­er­a­tion and eco­nom­i­cally em­pow­ered women buy­ers.

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