New era of fo­cused growth for board of di­rec­tors

Cape Argus - - MONEY - | Sup­plied

A SOUND and ex­pe­ri­enced board of di­rec­tors is crit­i­cal for any busi­ness.

When con­sid­ered against the back­drop of what is fast be­com­ing a global re­ces­sion be­cause of Covid-19 (that C-word), then the onus on those tasked with over­sight and guid­ance ex­po­nen­tially in­creases. This also places ad­di­tional im­por­tance on the se­lec­tion of board mem­bers.

Tak­ing cur­rent events into ac­count, JSE-listed African Eq­uity Em­pow­er­ment In­vest­ments (AEEI) re­cently an­nounced a se­ries of changes and ad­di­tions to its board of di­rec­tors.

The ap­point­ments not only re­in­force the group’s cor­po­rate gov­er­nance cre­den­tials, but also sig­nal a new era of fo­cused growth for the or­gan­i­sa­tion as it looks to un­lock its con­sid­er­able bal­ance sheet with a se­ries of tar­geted in­vest­ments, while safe­guard­ing its ex­ist­ing in­ter­ests.

Lead­ing the pack, Valen­tine Dzvova, who has been act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive since March 12, was ap­pointed as chief ex­ec­u­tive ef­fec­tive July 1.

She is al­ready be­gin­ning to stamp her mark on the or­gan­i­sa­tion, with a fresh vi­sion for the di­ver­si­fied in­vest­ment group she has been tasked with steer­ing from its op­er­a­tional man­age­ment roots to that of a fully-fledged in­vest­ment hold­ing com­pany.

Dzvova, a char­tered ac­coun­tant, is said to be some­one who not only gets the job done, but well, and is now joined in her quest to grow AEEI’s port­fo­lio and out­put, by Jowayne van Wyk, who will re­place out­go­ing chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Chantelle Ah Sing. Sing will leave the group at the end of July to fo­cus on fur­ther­ing her stud­ies and pur­su­ing other per­sonal in­ter­ests.

Van Wyk is no stranger to AEEI though, hav­ing formerly chaired the AEEI au­dit and risk com­mit­tee and acted as a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor since Septem­ber 2019.

AEEI has also ap­pointed Bongikhaya

Qama as a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. He has served as chair­per­son in many com­mu­nity em­pow­er­ment boards and cur­rently serves as the pro­vin­cial chair­per­son of the South African Na­tional Civic Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Round­ing out the lat­est board new­com­ers is Wils Rauben­heimer. He will serve as an in­de­pen­dent non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor on the AEEI board of di­rec­tors. He has also been ap­pointed as the chair­per­son of the AEEI Au­dit and Risk Com­mit­tee, as well as the lead in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor of the com­pany. He is a qual­i­fied char­tered ac­coun­tant who brings a wealth of ac­count­ing ex­per­tise to AEEI, hav­ing pre­vi­ously been a part­ner at Mazars Char­tered Ac­coun­tants, as well as be­ing fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor of sev­eral com­pa­nies in the UK.

Cur­rently the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hertz Rent A Car, South­ern Africa, Rauben­heimer, on join­ing the AEEI board, said: “I am look­ing for­ward to adding value to the team as a re­sult of my years of ex­pe­ri­ence in au­dit, con­sult­ing and re­tail, and to fur­ther strengthen in­de­pen­dent over­sight of the com­pany’s fi­nan­cials to sat­isfy ever-in­creas­ingly strin­gent com­pli­ance re­quire­ments.”

Of tak­ing up the chal­lenge to lead the group dur­ing what can only be termed as chal­leng­ing times, Dzvova said: “The road ahead re­quires a steady com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of AEEI – for all its stake­hold­ers – and I am ded­i­cated to that cause. AEEI is a solid busi­ness and with the sup­port of our chair­per­son, board of di­rec­tors and our very loyal and re­silient staff, we are well poised to weather the storm and tran­si­tion to our next phase of growth.”

That next phase of growth in­cludes look­ing at fur­ther in­vest­ments in the tech space to re­spond to the new dig­i­tal world that the world has been thrust into, and ul­ti­mately bol­ster the group’s in­vest­ments with the aim of fur­ther in­creas­ing value for all stake­hold­ers.

The AEEI board also shares five key prin­ci­ples for deal­ing with the fall­out from Covid-19 and eco­nomic lock­downs that help to guide their cur­rent de­ci­sions that are set­ting the group up for a se­cure and sus­tain­able fu­ture:

◆ Speed boat driver not ocean liner cap­tain – the flex­i­bil­ity and adapt­abil­ity prin­ci­ple should not be ig­nored by busi­nesses any­more. Covid-19 de­liv­ers chal­lenges, but also op­por­tu­ni­ties, and busi­nesses that are nim­ble and able to adapt quickly, and that in­no­vate, will be bet­ter able to ride out the storm and change di­rec­tion to take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties as they present them­selves. Quick and de­ci­sive de­ci­sion mak­ing is also a must.

◆ Com­mit­ment to the ubuntu prin­ci­ple – a busi­ness that takes care of its com­mu­ni­ties in times of deep eco­nomic dif­fi­culty will be re­mem­bered long af­ter the pan­demic is over. It should take own­er­ship of so­cial up­lift­ment and sup­port the vul­ner­a­ble in the com­mu­ni­ties they do busi­ness in. ◆ Cash is king – it is im­por­tant for busi­nesses to buckle up and pre­serve cash right now. Make a re­al­is­tic re­view of “nice to have” and “must have” ex­pen­di­ture. Be mea­sured in mak­ing in­vest­ments.

◆ Com­mu­ni­cate – the value of main­tain­ing strong re­la­tion­ships and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with stake­hold­ers at all lev­els can­not be un­der-es­ti­mated. Most, if not all, busi­nesses have had to ne­go­ti­ate longer pay­ment terms with cred­i­tors, en­cour­age quicker pay­ments from debtors, seek cap­i­tal in­jec­tion from share­hold­ers, relief from the gov­ern­ment, and the buy-in of em­ploy­ees as they took pay cuts, etc. In a com­mu­ni­ca­tions void, peo­ple make up their own mind, and it’s usu­ally the wrong pic­ture. Those or­gan­i­sa­tions who had adopted an en­gaged and open ap­proach with all stake­hold­ers are the ones who will fare the best.

Life and busi­ness, are all about re­la­tion­ships.

◆ Em­brace the dig­i­tal fu­ture now – Covid-19 has ac­cel­er­ated the up­take of the 4IR. Ig­nore this at your peril. Busi­nesses that do not have a strat­egy in place to tran­si­tion to a fully im­mersed dig­i­tal fu­ture, will be left be­hind and be the ca­su­al­ties of this eco­nomic war we are all cur­rently fight­ing. This in­cludes trust­ing em­ploy­ees to work re­motely with the same pro­duc­tiv­ity, ef­fec­tive­ness and out­come as in the of­fice.

I am look­ing for­ward to adding value to the team. Wils Rauben­heimer NON-EX­EC­U­TIVE DI­REC­TOR

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