“In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined 20 years ago that I would one day be a CEO of a company that employs 7000 people and that would be owned by the largest telco in South Africa – the Telkom group”.
This is how my conversation with Isaac Mophatlane, CEO of Telkom Business Connexion started.
“Ben, my late twin, and I have been on an amazing journey building our business. Being young and to make mistakes was all part of our success story. But it was people who helped us with their encouragement and trusting us with their business who made it happen.”
“My love affair with computers has come a long way. It started in 1987 when I was a learner at Christian Brothers Boys high school in Kimberley, and where I was an active member of the computer club.”
When the young twins were customers of Pretoria company, Software Connection (now Incredible Connection), they were offered a weekend job with the company.
“We were in our seventh heaven, working with all these computers and software. It was great living one’s passion and getting paid for it. Working in the Sanlam Middestad Centre storein Pretoria was our first break and when Ben and I decided to start our own computer enterprise the company helped us by financing our first business.”
“It was not easy to make a living and pay back loans. Making mistakes and learning from them saw us through some trying times but we made it. Our next break came with the Comparex deal which we acquired and later renamed Business Connexion.”
Sadly, Isaac lost his bother two years ago, right in the middle of their negotiations with Telkom and he had to continue the process alone. He said it was tough but believing in himself and what his brother had wanted for them both helped him through the negotiations.
“My father used to say to Ben and I, ‘Don’t be a graveyard of potential, a lot of people do not get where they need to get to. You only have yourself to blame if you fall in that trap. Give it your best shot and participate in your own life.’ We see so often in South Africa that people become a graveyard of the potential available to them.”
“It is so easy for young people to look for role models in the wrong places. We as business leaders and companies need to set the example and lead young people to seize the potential available to them and make it their own. We cannot shirk responsibilities even if we ourselves are going through tough times.”
“Looking at the future, our focus is quite clear, we need to disrupt ourselves. I believe this would apply to many enterprises in South Africa. Companies need to challenge their current models, challenge the way they do business and the products and services they offer.”
“Will they to be relevant in three years’ time? We need to anticipate what the world in which we will do business in the future will look like.”
“The world is consuming more data than ever before, a trend that will exponentially increase as the concept of the internet of things is embraced by more and more companies. It will strain our networks and the internet.”
“Business will have to optimise and do more with less. In future companies will employ less people: and to succeed they have to develop and invest in new technology and achieve more with less.”
“We are about to witness an explosion in data, big data and analytics. This will drive the data centre industry to explore new technologies to offer greater capacity but at the same time reduce their energy usage. I believe we will see an explosion of growth in this industry.”
Mophatlane says that good communication between people is the most important factor in a company’s quest for growth.
“We have practised this throughout our 20 year success story. It is not easy. Companies must listen to their people, consider their needs and understand their concerns. This does not mean that every wish can be accommodated.”
“Companies are in business to make money for their shareholders. Discussing this openly with employees and together arriving at a solution that is best for both will go a long way to prevent unnecessary disruption. If a company does well, management has the room to look after employees better.”
“South Africa has a great future if we all work together. ICT is one of best drivers for growth. Having said that, government must act responsibly and work with business to create the environment in which business can prosper. Regulations are needed but they must boost business not hinder it. We can only achieve that if we communicate with each other better. People make it happen!”
Source: EE Publishers