From the end of the long table – some thoughts by the President February 2016
Dear NOCCI friends,
Firstly, I wish to thank you for your confidence in me by nominating and selecting me to the NOCCI Executive Committee a little more than a year ago – a year that went by in a flash, and during which it was both a special challenge and a privilege to serve on the Committee. I am truly humbled for being elected as President by my fellow members of the Exco, all of which are special people that I hold in very high esteem. It is an honour to be part of such an eminent group of business people, and I can only pray for the necessary wisdom and leadership to fulfil the role that you have entrusted to me. My sincere gratitude to Neil, our past President, and the other outgoing Exco members for their leadership and indispensable role during the past year (or years, in some cases).
To say that we are facing challenging times in our country at the moment is stating the obvious. I am quite sure all of those who were privileged enough to attend the Annual General Meeting on Thursday 18 February 2016 would have – as I did – come away with a new appreciation of the gravity of the socio-economic situation that South Africa is in, as so lucidly illustrated by our excellent guest speaker, Nicky Weimar from Nedbank.
One of the most concerning trends that we have to deal with are the deep divisions in our society, as illustrated by student protests and other civil unrest. While the causes of this civil disillusionment and frustrations run deep, and it is easy to point fingers and apportion blame, doing so while we are facing the enormous challenges at hand equates to rearranging the deck chairs while the ship is sinking. It is critical that these issues are dealt with on a socio-political level, but – while we might hold individual or collective views on this – our role and mandate is different.
As members of the business community, we are first and foremost business people who need to keep – to exhaust the metaphor – the economic ship on course. We, as well as those that work with us to make our businesses successful, wake up, dress and go to work every morning, in essence to put bread on the table, but with a passion to make a difference – whatever the contribution is that our line of business is making to the overall well-being of our communities and our country. We are not a-political beings, but – as far as us conducting business is concerned – we exercise our democratic rights in such a way that it does not affect the performance and reputation of the business that earns us our livelihood. I think it would be fair to say that we are part of a large, silent majority that has only one dream – of making our businesses, and thereby our town or city, Province and country successful, sustainable and prosperous.
To use an ancient quote (that can be traced back to the fables of Aesop, just in case you have seen it ascribed to someone else) in this context: “United we stand, divided we fall”. This is certainly true of what my wish would be for our country as a whole, but specifically for us as businesses that form part of a Chamber that is affiliated to AHI. We have a choice – we can, as the business sector in the Northern Cape that represent an astounding number of workers and significant portion of the economic activity of the Province, unite on issues of common interest and let our voice be heard in the interest of taking business and development in the Northern Cape forward (without compromising on healthy competition amongst ourselves or sacrificing the sovereignty of our respective enterprises). We could also choose to remain divided on many issues and let the discontent among ourselves, and our complaints to those that do not have the solutions, drown out the voice of reason. The pros and cons of the two options are clear.
For this reason, my appeal to you is to help keep NOCCI relevant and on the leading edge of business policy and advocacy. Your active involvement, feedback and support can go a long way towards steering us in the right direction and strengthening our hand. NOCCI has no reason to exist except to represent the views and interests of its members – if we do not know what these are, it becomes almost impossible to use our collective bargaining power to achieve this aim.
The Executive Committee is planning a Strategic Planning Session for Saturday 5 March 2016, during which we hope to map out the course to be taken into the future in order to best serve our members, remain relevant, and maintain and advance our position as the voice of organised business in the Province. I hereby wish to invite each and every member organisation/ company to let us have your views of the issues that should be addressed, and the course to be taken by NOCCI into the future. Please send these to the NOCCI office via email to reach us by close of business on Thursday 3 March 2016. You have our commitment that your views will be taken into account during our discussions and planning. At the same time, we would like to encourage all members to keep the dialogue with NOCCI open – feel free to approach Sharon or any member of the Exco at any time, should there be any question, queries or suggestions that you would wish to bring to our attention.
A few loose thoughts:
• Sincere congratulations to the office team – Sharon, Beverley and Pravashini – for arranging and executing an excellent AGM. Of the numerous compliments received, the most valuable were those of first-time attendees, who clearly came away with the impression that NOCCI is a highly professional and value-adding entity. In the same breath, we again wish to thank and commend our sponsors and suppliers, without whom the event could not have been successful.
• Congratulations again also to Kimberley Recycling and to Gary Hepburn for being awarded the Business of the Year and Business Person of the Year Awards respectively. As far as the other nominees are concerned – the quality of nominations received is a sure indication of the “depth” we have when it comes to excellent business leadership in the Province. We would like to continue rewarding excellence by further building out these awards in years to come – it is not too soon to start identifying those that you would like to nominate when nominations open for the 2016 Achiever Awards!
• If you had not heard – we are again planning the NOCCI Business Expo for August this year, and it promises to be even bigger and better. Be sure to book your stands as soon as bookings open to avoid disappointment!
• A significant number of other events are also on the cards for the year to come, albeit that a reassessment of the events that we stage and how we approach them will form part of our Strategic discussions. Although the primary objective with these functions is to market NOCCI and build its reputation, it is, as a non-profit concern, highly dependent on income from these events. We therefore appeal to all members to support these events whenever possible.
Until next time, may business be good!