Project Description

Welcome by

  • Dominic Gaobepe
  • Lukanyo Mnyanda | Editor | Business Day
  • Vusi Fele | Chief Procurement Officer | Absa

Keynote speaker – Ian Russel, CEO, leader, influencer, writer, thinker

The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.

Our generation will be defined by the events of late 2019 and early 2020. In many businesses’ minds there is now a new date system at work. Before Covid-19 (BC) and After Covid-19 (AC). This keynote focuses on the reality of a AC world, and seeks to understand how we relevantly learn the lessons from the BC period, without repeating and falling into the traps of the past. Whilst many of us may be reassured by platitudes such as ‘this too shall pass’, I am afraid that unless we embrace the reality of the brave new world ahead of us, we will simply sleep walk our business into another new catastrophe.

During the BC/AC transition period I was Chairperson of one school; Chairperson of two businesses; sat as a Non-Executive Director on three other company Boards; and an Executive Director on the Boards of two co-founded start-ups. It would be fair to say that I had my hands full. Nearly 30 years of working around the world in many large business in multiple senior roles simply had not prepared me for the multiple challenges that now faced me. As someone who has had to lead corporate responses to terrorist events such as 9/11 and financial cataclysms like the 2008 financial crisis, COVID-19 still caught be absolutely cold.

The advice I offer today is not from a text book. It is not fresh out of HBR case study. It is not third party wisdom re-packaged. What follows are my thoughts and battle-hardened learnings from managing multiple responses to the COVID-19 crisis and some of the things that seemed to work. Please treat this advice from whence it came – real, imperfect life.

Awards ceremony: A video presentation