Nimble Attitudes: Riaan Stassen

Nimble Attitudes: Riaan Stassen


Riaan Stassen, co-founder and chief executive of Capitec Bank, has seen the business through its early start-up stage to its current aggressive growth phase. But he knows that growth can be a double-edged sword. It’s the goal you always dreamed of achieving, but if not properly managed, it has the potential to destroy a business.

“Implementation becomes more difficult as you grow. It’s not difficult to quickly lose the nimbleness that got you where you are in the first place,” says Stassen.

Capitec has gained market share by disrupting the staid, established ‘old-guard’ banking industry. But as the business grew it ran the risk of becoming bogged down by the same bureaucratic, big-business challenges of its competitors.

Stassen’s solution? “Prioritise the implementation of new ideas, particularly during periods of growth, and get your people on board. I’ve learnt that implementation is difficult when you’re growing, so it’s doubly important to give it priority and attention if you don’t want to lose your competitive edge.”

Capitec has continued to implement innovative, customer-centred solutions that have shaken up an industry that went largely unchanged for years. Sunday banking hours is just one example.

People have been critical to implementation. “One of the ways we’ve managed to roll out these ideas is by driving a culture of continuous improvement,” says Stassen.

“When we introduced Sunday trading, we had very little resistance from our staff because they understand the importance of improving all the time. They don’t ask, ‘Why should I change?’ We constantly communicate the benefits of such changes so everyone is behind a new idea, which makes implementing it that much easier,” he says.


Prioritise implementation and get your people on board.

Juliet Pitman
Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.
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