On separating the personal from business
I don’t do anything personal during business hours. During the working day I keep a clear separation between business and personal. Obviously I sometimes have to take personal calls but they’re brief and I deal with them quickly. My family knows that’s just how I am at work.
On maximising the commute
I use the commute to and from work to make important phone calls I don’t get to during the day. When I get in my car to go home in the evening I always stick a Post-It note to the dashboard of all the calls I need to make. I try to make sure these are all done by the time I get home. Using that time effectively makes a big difference.
I try to respond immediately to as many emails as I can. I don’t like leaving things hanging. In my experience, queueing things in my head only causes stress. So if I can reply with a definitive answer, I do. Then that item is out of the way and off my plate.
On strategic thinking
I do much of my strategic thinking on flights. I find the space conducive to thinking. There is nothing else productive to do in an aeroplane. Also, the business strategy shouldn’t change every week, so I find this sufficient time. I also use holiday time at the end of the year to think about the strategic direction for the company in the year ahead.
I schedule two types of internal meetings in my diary. The first is known as a ‘chat’. It has a free agenda and can be about anything. This provides me and key members of my team with the opportunity to connect and talk about things that we might not otherwise get the chance to discuss.
The second meeting is a business review, and it’s at these meetings that we look at the ‘hard’ business issues — sales, targets, operations, challenges, action plans. Both of these meetings are scheduled in advance with key team members and both are equally important in allowing me to remain in touch with the business and its people. 95% of what I do involves talking to people.
On organised disorganisation
I’m naturally an extremely disorganised person. I’m the kind of person who would put off doing things until tomorrow, or do them at the last minute. But I’ve had to learn how to be organised. Being disorganised in business causes you stress and embarrassment. It’s something I had to work hard at because it isn’t my natural inclination, but having structure to my day reduces my stress levels and enables me to be maximally effective. You can’t run a business if you procrastinate or you’re disorganised.
Claim to fame: Founder of EOH, which has an annual turnover of R5 billion.
Current position: CEO of EOH
Lead the Field: Leadership Lessons From N’Lighten’s Nathalie Schooling