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Conscious Companies Awards: Finalists Are A Breed Apart


01 Jun 2017 |

Conscious Companies Awards: Finalists Are A Breed Apart

Published in Business Report, The Star, 11 May 2017.

THE CULMINATION of a four month quest to uncover the top conscious companies in the country ends tonight when the finalists will be celebrated at the Conscious Companies Awards 2017.

The leaders of the companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and non-profit corporations (NPCs), who were selected as finalists, are a unique breed of men and women who displayed a strong sense of purpose, values, innovation and an intuitive understanding of people to create meaningful human relationships with their stakeholders.

A deeply rooted willingness and courage by the leaders of these organisations to create disruption and bring about a different quality of being in the world of business proves yet again that conscious leaders shape conscious companies.

The companies, whose realisation that the nature and structure of its relationship with its employees and stakeholders, and whose visionary leaders guide it to prosper, perform and pursue profits while placing a premium on people, community, culture and the environment beyond the bottom line are the ones that made it as finalists.

They are: IQ Business, Turner and Townsend, Strate, Thomson Reuters, Belgotex Floor Coverings, Joe Public. In the NGO, NPC and NPO category they are: Imvula Empowerment Fund, Afrika Tikkun and the Smile Foundation and Petco.

IQ Business: Adam Craker The chief executive of IQ Business, the largest independent management consulting firm in Africa, stands tall in his robust participation to societal challenges and influence positive outcomes. He has unerringly steered the business towards sustainable and inclusive growth, strongly built on the two pillars of growth and purpose. Craker’s visionary leadership has created a platform for tackling inequality, unemployment and the lack of growth in the South African economy. His quest in how to unify business, labour and government towards a common goal saw various initiatives towards economic transformation.

Strate: Monica Singer The chief executive of Strate, a technology company that serves the financial markets, is a rare breed of individual. Adversity had shaped her to embody the conscious strands of creating business value through human value beyond the bottom line. “The world sometimes does not cope with transparency, honesty and love”, she says, displaying a unique femininity in a male dominated environment. In 1996 she understood the need of the market to execute efficient financial digital solutions and successfully disrupted it moving away from manually intensive paper driven processes to offer efficient, digital systems as a Central Securities Depository. As a result South Africa is ranked among the best economies in the world for its financial market development and tops the regulation of its exchanges. Trade volumes now exceed 350 000 from 4 000. Through Singer’s vision the company has become a national asset, internationally recognised as a Financial Market Infrastructure trusted to use state-of-the-art technology.

Thomson Reuters: Sneha Shah The managing director of Thomson Reuters, a media and technology company is a leader with a difference. Kenyan born Shah’s consciousness is in her DNA, instilled by her strong belief in doing the right thing. She believes the strength to deliver is derived from the talent pool of her human capital. Shah has created a healthy, high-performance culture that ensures better execution of strategies and greater operational efficiency. Culture change was an imperative where all employees had to engage in a self-exploration workshop of how one “shows up” in the world and adopt a model of using kindness to help resolve issues and embrace diversity. This has allowed her high performance workforce to thrive. Responsible to harness growth in Africa is by equipping investors with the knowledge needed to address risks and reap rewards, Shah is passionate about Africa. She is committed to ensuring that the company contributes towards the continent’s economic empowerment with innovative technology and industry expertise.

Turner & Townsend: Turner & Townsend is an independent professional services company specialising in project management, cost management and consulting across the real estate, infrastructure and natural resources sectors. With 97 offices in 41 countries, the company uses extensive global and industry experience to manage risk, while maximising value. Under the collective leadership of chairperson and chief executive, Vincent Clancy, Ian Donaldson, MD for Africa, and their dedicated executive team, the company delivers sustainable value in sectors such as real estate, infrastructure, energy and mining, technology and manufacturing. “Despite challenges in the mining industry, we increased our African revenue and profits in line with expectations,” Donaldson says.

Belgotex Floor Coverings: Kevin Walsh The chief operating officer of Belgotex is proud of the company’s achievements in the green space. The company has become a recognised world leader in sustainability practices in all aspects of their plant and carpet manufacturing operations. “Our main goal is to operate a sustainable factory wherever economically and environmentally feasible,” explains Walsh. A green product manufactured in a green factory earned Belgotex six stars in South Africa’s first custom Green Star SA – Existing Building Performance rating for an industrial facility from the Green Building Council of South Africa. The comprehensive award was for implementing outstanding practical and measurable strategic solutions in the following areas: They also initiated a profit share system where a percentage of profits go to every worker in the company from the lowest level upwards.

Joe Public: When founders, Pepe Marais and Gareth Leck, launched Joe Public United, a marketing agency in 1998, they had little idea that they would survive one of the worst recession periods during the 2009 recession. They rallied through it by focusing on a singular vision: “Create an organisation that inspires greatness.” A personal transformation journey of consciousness in an industry that thrives on need and greed for both partners catapulted them into a vision and growth for the company, enabling the creation of a conscious culture among the 250-strong employees. This is daily demonstrated by five core leadership values of Creativity, Excellence, Integrity, Respect and Leadership.

In the NGO, NPO and NPC the finalists are: Imvula Empowerment Fund

Dr Taddy Bletcher, a pioneer of the free university education movement with the “Maharishi Institute” is a visionary innovator who has created a unique holistic environment that goes beyond just education to support the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual growth of his students. Imvula Education Empowerment Fund as with the Branson School of Entrepreneurship provides a place where young people can access resources with financial, technological, and infrastructure assistance ordinarily denied them. “I saw aching poverty, but also the greatest most valuable resource – human potential” Bletcher says. “I really believe that we can end poverty, we can end crime, we can end the tremendous problems we have with sickness, and we can end unemployment. But the only way we can really do this is through developing the human asset in this country. Every student is a genius waiting to happen.”

Afrika Tikkun and Smile Foundation: Marc Lubner, the chief executive of Afrika Tikkun and founder of the Smile Foundation is the recipient of several awards that include the Distinguished Service to Society Award. Under the stewardship of Lubner, the company has made an indelible difference in society and young people by breaking the cycle of poverty, crime and abuse. Afrika Tikkun Investment Trust ensures that all profits are routed to fund the hundreds of learners in dire need of assistance. The number of programme beneficiaries dramatically increased from 1 200 to almost 20 000 with the annual spend increasing from R20 million to R60m. “I intend to live a life of purpose,” Lubner says. “We have a responsibility to live out Nelson Mandela’s values in our everyday lives. The Smile Foundation treats children with facial abnormalities and offers a comprehensive health care solution for children with facial conditions. Partnering with key academic hospitals in the country, corrective surgery is made possible for children who would otherwise be deprived of the gift of a smile.

Petco: Cheri Scholtz, Petco’s chief executive, maintains that incremental change has been a key strategy for the organisation since the outset in 2004. The core of Scholtz’s efforts is to represent the country’s plastics industry’s efforts to self-regulate Pet (Polyethylene Terephthalate). “We help facilitate the collection of the product, but also need to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to reprocess it. Despite ongoing challenges, Scholtz is proud of Petco’s achievements. In 2015, 17 billion Pet bottles were collected across South Africa and up to 47 million bottles were recycled daily. “We’ve not only worked with collectors and recyclers (and campaigned to increase consumer awareness), we’ve also liaised with brand owners and designers to help them manufacture product that is compatible with recycling,” Scholtz says.

Visionary leaders placing a premium on people, community, culture and the environment beyond the bottom line are the ones that made it as finalists.

The winner and runner-up of the Conscious Companies Awards 2017 will be announced tonight at a gala event partnered by Coca-Cola. The prize for the winning company and runner-up is a commissioned hand crafted steel and copper sculpture by renowned artist and blacksmith Paola Warrender and a trip to India for the leader of the organisation to spend at a consciousness, Mindfulness Meditation course in an ashram in Bangalore.

Brenda Kali Brenda Kali is the MD of Conscious Companies, a communication strategist and a transformation coach. She is the author of Beyond Corporate Sludge: Insights to create balance and harmony in the corporate world.