Business & Leadership Lessons from Kumaran of Spartan

Business & Leadership Lessons from Kumaran of Spartan


Claim to fame

Top 5 finalist, Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Awards, Best Emerging Category, 2005; Endeavor Entrepreneur, 2006; Entrepreneurial Masters Programme, MIT; Africa Leadership Initiative member, Aspen Institute; entrepreneur since 21

Current position

CEO of Spartan Technology Rentals

On encouraging free thinking

We’ve built pause areas throughout the office where staff can sit, take a breath, eat lunch – basically get away from their desks and think about things from a different perspective. We’ve also got white boards everywhere.
If an idea comes to an employee during any of these times there’s a space for them to write them down and brainstorm them. Innovation doesn’t only come from the top – it should be ingrained and encouraged throughout the organisation.

On personal productivity

I have four screens on my desk, at the office and at home, and I find it’s a huge time saver. One screen is my calendar: It lists my appointments, reminders and lists, and gives me a constant perspective on my day, week and month.

The second screen is Outlook, and the third is Explorer, with multiple tabs open, including our Intranet, Google and LinkedIn. The fourth screen is my current tasks screen — anything I’m working on.

On LinkedIn

Entrepreneurs are avid networkers and LinkedIn is an excellent way for me to manage my professional networks online. Once I realised the potential of the platform I bought the book The 42 Rules of LinkedIn Success and really learnt how to maximise my profile.

I’m now on the top payment package, but the benefits are exponential. I use it to research customer segments, competitors and potential employees. In recruitment alone we saved over R60 000 in costs the first year on the platform, which paid for the subscription six times over.

On multiple devices

No one device can do everything. Once you realise that, the decision to have multiple devices is an easy one. For me, productivity is key, and so I want to always be working with the right tech for the job. Desktop PCs, tablets and smartphones all have their place. Microsoft Exchange links them all together, and so anything I do on one is automatically updated across the rest.

On ‘pause areas’

I’m a firm believer that different spaces encourage different thought patterns. Operational tasks (and therefore thoughts) take place at my desk. If I want to think strategically, I can’t do it in the same space. I have a ‘pause’ chair in my office and at home where I can sit and simply think. I have a separate space for reading. I like to align my thoughts with the task at hand, and I find the right setting can really put me in the right frame of mind.

We Chat to Amy Kleinhans-Curd About On Keeping Business Personal. Read It Here.