Productivity is Key for Tiger Brands

Productivity is Key for Tiger Brands


Vital stats

  • Company: Tiger Brands
  • Player: Bridgitte Backman
  • Current position: Corporate affairs and sustainability group executive at Tiger Brands, South Africa’s biggest consumer foods manufacturer.
  • Visit:

On taking it easy

Perhaps because my job is so unstructured, I do not believe in being strictly organised in the morning. I take my time, and feeling relaxed is vital.

If I am rushed, I will arrive at work in an unproductive frame of mind.

On setting the tone for the day

I have two daughters and early every morning I send them a text message with a letter, and they reply with a positive word. So I’ll start the day with a message that says “Have a P for Purposeful day.” Because I am such a positive person, this ritual is an essential part of my day.

On being present

When I get to the office I find someone to talk to for the first ten minutes of the day. This is how I get to share with people in the workplace and to feel present.

It contextualises where I am, and grounds me, especially after I have driven through Joburg traffic to get to work.

On meeting internal and external demands

Bridgitte Backman

Because of the nature of the job, I have to be on standby for media or government at the drop of a hat. To allow for this without disrupting our work, my team and I schedule meetings for the week, always keeping one day free.

That means that if a government or media discussion has to happen on a day when we have a meeting, we simply move our meeting to the free day.

As a result, our productivity is never compromised, and our meetings simply happen a day or two later instead of having to be postponed for a month because there is no space in the diary. It’s a practice that also has the benefit of making people feel that their time is valued.

On planning for the year

I have always had a magnetic calendar board in my office, with different coloured circles, squares, triangles and stars. This helps me to avoid being ‘busy’.

Busyness is about not planning properly and it’s unproductive. My board gives me a view of the year at a glance, and I know when board meetings, staff meetings and team meetings are taking place.

November, for example, is chock-a-block because that is when we work on company results. One look at the board, and I know where I am and what is important. 

On keeping it simple

As corporate affairs director, my role is to make the business of the business easier to do. To make things run as smoothly as possible, I have simplified how I see my role.

I monitor the environment, and when an incident arises, I classify it as friend or foe. Next I analyse it, and determine what to do with it. If it’s bad, I treat it, and then clean up.

Basically I play the role of radar, physician, and cleaner. Understanding that makes my day easier to manage.

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.