GETTING TO KNOW IVAN EPSTEIN:
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