GET­TING TO KNOW IVAN EP­STEIN:

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1. Ca­reer path

Ep­stein started at pro­fes­sional ser­vices firm PwC be­fore co-found­ing Soft­line in 1988. He led the start-up to a list­ing on the Jo­han­nes­burg Stock Ex­change in 1997. When Sage ac­quired Soft­line in 2003, Ep­stein was ap­pointed CEO for south­ern-hemi­sphere coun­tries.

In ad­di­tion, he serves as chair­man of the Sage Foundation, which pro­vides sup­port to non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions and com­mu­ni­ties around the world by shar­ing Sage resources with them. The Foundation’s 2+2+2 com­mu­nity model in­volves do­nat­ing 2% of em­ployee time each year; 2% of free cash flow; and 2% of Sage’s smart tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts to any char­ity, so­cial en­ter­prise or non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Ep­stein be­lieves his am­bi­tion was also the big­gest ob­sta­cle he had to over­come in his ca­reer. “I tried to do every­thing at light­ning speed, and some­times I tripped over my own feet. So the big­gest chal­lenge for me was to learn how to be pa­tient with my­self.”

2. Man­age­ment style

Ep­stein de­scribes his man­age­ment style as “pretty open and ap­proach­able”. He be­lieves in giv­ing peo­ple au­ton­omy to come up with ideas and the free­dom to make them work.

“I am not a con­trol freak and I truly be­lieve in sur­round­ing my­self with peo­ple who are bet­ter than me,” he says.

3. Work/life bal­ance

He says he never switches off and has found it very dif­fi­cult to have a work/ life bal­ance. “Some peo­ple can find [that bal­ance]. I couldn’t.”

Ep­stein says he made time to go to school plays when his chil­dren were still in school, but he al­ways kept work­ing. “Six days I’m in the of­fice and the sev­enth day at home in body, but not in mind. It’s just the way I am.”

4. His ul­ti­mate din­ner guests

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