Em­pow­er­ing the com­mu­nity

Do­ing good and good busi­ness are not mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive

Finweek English Edition - - People -

EM­POW­ER­MENT RE­MAINS a hot topic 16 years into South Africa’s democ­racy. While some fear that there’s no longer a place for them and con­sider seek­ing em­ploy­ment abroad, oth­ers feel not nearly enough has been done to ad­dress in­equal­i­ties.

Tran­sUnion CEO Paul Hut­ton is one of the lat­ter and is a strong pro­po­nent of Broad-Based Black Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment (BBBEE). He be­lieves that more needs to be done. “There has to be a con­certed ef­fort to amend past eco­nomic im­bal­ances for the good of the coun­try and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.” He feels priv­i­leged that his po­si­tion al­lows him to marry the two things that mat­ter greatly to him – con­tribut­ing to bet­ter­ing the com­mu­nity and em­pow­er­ment.

Tran­sUnion serves con­sumers and busi­nesses through sev­eral op­er­at­ing di­vi­sions: Credit Bureau, An­a­lytic & De­ci­sion­ing Ser­vices, Cheque Guar­an­tee Ser­vices, Auto In­for­ma­tion So­lu­tions, and Re­ceiv­ables Man­age­ment, as well as its net­work of lo­cal sub­sidiaries through­out Africa.

In terms of share­hold­ing, Com­mu­nity and In­di­vid­ual Devel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (CIDA) City Cam­pus owns 10% of the Credit Bureau, and Safika Hold­ings owns 25% of Re­ceiv­ables Man­age­ment.

In ad­di­tion, Tran­sUnion says it’s com­mit­ted to achiev­ing eq­ui­table rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the high­est lev­els of the or­gan­i­sa­tion across the con­ti­nent, en­sur­ing that its staff re­flect the pop­u­la­tion and that its sup­pli­ers have the ap­pro­pri­ate BEE sta­tus.

Apart from its BEE part­ners, the re­la­tion­ship that Tran­sUnion has with CIDA City Cam­pus al­lows it to con­trib­ute to re­al­is­ing em­pow­er­ment ideals.

CIDA is a free donor-de­pen­dent in­sti­tute for dis­ad­van­taged youth lo­cated in Jo­han­nes­burg’s in­ner city. Over the next 25 years, Tran­sUnion will help over 1 200 CIDA stu­dents com­plete BBA de­grees and it’s es­ti­mated that their ca­reers will gen­er­ate up to R3,5bn for the econ­omy. The or­gan­i­sa­tion also em­ploys 13 stu­dents from the Cam­pus, which has been run­ning since 2002.

“In­vest in mean­ing­ful com­mu­nity projects and the nation reaps the re­wards,” says Hut­ton. “Ob­vi­ously there has to be a re­cip­ro­cal value to en­sure suc­cess,” he says.

He also em­pha­sises the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion in re­al­is­ing em­pow­er­ment goals. “There has to be an ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in place that pro­duces com­pet­i­tive stu­dents for em­pow­er­ment to be suc­cess­ful and sus­tain­able,” he says.

Paul Hut­ton’s mis­sion is to make a pos­i­tive im­pact on the broader com­mu­nity. It’s an ethos he car­ries through in his pro­fes­sional and per­sonal life; an as­pect deeply rooted in his spir­i­tual be­liefs.

One of his mis­sions is to erad­i­cate fraud­u­lent be­hav­iour, such as mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing funds and bend­ing the rules when it suits one. He’s lead­ing Tran­sUnion in help­ing Govern­ment find tan­gi­ble so­lu­tions to fight­ing fraud through work­shops. Hut­ton adds: “There’s no easy so­lu­tion but we have to be very tough on it. Take the vis­i­ble polic­ing dur­ing the World Cup, peo­ple were less in­clined to drink and drive be­cause they knew there was an in­creased chance they would get caught.”

He’s in­volved in var­i­ous char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity, some with his wife, and through Tran­sUnion. This ser­vice to the com­mu­nity and the idea of con­tribut­ing to some­thing big­ger than the in­di­vid­ual are things he re­gards as es­sen­tial to a grow­ing econ­omy.

Hut­ton de­scribes him­self as be­ing born with a sil­ver spoon in his mouth but still be­ing con­scious about what was hap­pen­ing around him. Yet, look­ing back at his school­ing years, be­ing CEO of a ma­jor in­sti­tu­tion did not fig­ure in his plans.

Hut­ton scraped through ma­tric by the skin of his teeth, and this con­tin­ued when he en­rolled at the Uni­ver­sity of Cape Town. He be­gan fail­ing in his sec­ond year and his fa­ther threat­ened to bring him home half­way through the year to work in the fam­ily mo­tor deal­er­ship. He man­aged to con­vince his dad to let him stay at var­sity and he never looked back.

Af­ter he com­pleted a Bach­e­lor of So­cial Sci­ence de­gree, he started work­ing at the fam­ily busi­ness. He de­scribes his life as get­ting se­ri­ous very quickly when his fa­ther re­tired and he had to take over the reins. “I was a big joller be­fore then and never took much se­ri­ously.” He ran the deal­er­ship based in Hyde Park in Jo­han­nes­burg for six years.

“It be­came vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to com­pete with large dealer groups and I sold our in­de­pen­dent fam­ily deal­er­ship,”

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