MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN 2015/16
CASE IN POINT | KPMG
by Samantha Barnes
Africa Business Leaders Developing a Global Mindset
Africa has had many despots in the past. Some are still around today. What is significant and encouraging, are signs that business leadership in Africa is maturing. Not in the sense of reaching advanced years - although many government leaders have enviable longevity - but in terms of displaying the leadership skills that will enable African leaders to compete globally against their counterparts. For too long, African leaders have been deemed inferior or less relevant.
Signs of Progress Development is as much about human capital as it is about infrastructure. Business leadership sets the tone for a nation in creating role models for others to emulate, and the belief to turn dreams into reality. Bryan Leith is chief operating officer of KPMG’s Global
Africa Practice and in his personal travels he has met business leaders in various African countries with capabilities that are on par with leaders elsewhere in the world.
What Bryan is observing among these leaders is a growing realisation that Africa cannot wait for foreign direct investment to come to the continent. “They have a keen appetite to go out and find the necessary investment,” says Bryan. “African leaders are also looking to Africa to bring new developments to the continent, and the acknowledgement that the success of this is hinged on examining cross border expansion and intra-Africa investment opportunities.”
A Business Lesson for Everyone
Asked what the most valuable business lesson is that Bryan has learned, he has a ready reply. “Tom Grieve taught me that, ‘To succeed in business and in life, you need to focus on your strengths and surround yourself with people whose strengths make up for your weaknesses.”
It is not only actual leadership skills that KPMG is paying attention to, but also in supporting the call for the development of women to executive positions and for a spread of employees reflecting diversity in the workplace.
“At KPMG we believe that inclusivity, diversity and transformation are critical success factors to not only growing our business, but to supporting job creation and economic growth,” explains Bryan. “More than 50% of the staff compliment in South Africa is female, and for our offices across Africa, the number of female employees is increasing all the time.”
“Additionally, we have a number of initiatives that are run yearly – globally and locally – aimed at fostering growth and equal opportunity among our female staff, though we also have phenomenal women working for the firm who are going out and achieving high positions based on merit and their work, which is also something to be celebrated.”
Employer of Choice
KPMG retains the Employer of Choice accolade for 2014/15*. Bryan confirms that this is for good reason. “We provide excellent work experience, work environment and training. Within our offices we use the latest in technology, which resonates with younger generations and enables them to learn on the latest and most efficient platforms available.
Additionally, through our international network we have offices in 155 countries and offer the opportunity to gain work experience around the world.” It is heartening to have a firm of this calibre playing such an integral part in Africa’s growth and development.