Empowering the community
Doing good and good business are not mutually exclusive
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,”