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Facing challenges head on: In conversation with EOH CEO, Stephen van Coller

This is EOH CEO, Stephen van Coller’s response to fighting a battle in which you don’t know what to expect, like COVID-19.

“If you know the enemy is coming, you don’t wait until they come around the corner to see how big their guns are; you put your biggest guns forward in preparation.” This is EOH CEO, Stephen van Coller’s response to fighting a battle in which you don’t know what to expect, like COVID-19. With over two decade’s worth of financial services experience, Stephen brings with him a wealth of knowledge, not only within the facet of business, but life as a whole.

In this week’s Business Unusual podcast, Topco Media CEO, Ralf Fletcher, sits down with Stephen van Coller to discuss a wide range of topics, from the way COVID-19 has increased cohesion in the workplace to why surrounding yourself with individuals different from you is so important.

Stephen discusses the idea of exponential organisations and how they should be thought of as a different way of thinking; how when we learn to think differently, suddenly we begin to see new possibilities and not problems. He discusses the way that, despite being in completely unchartered territories during this time, EOH has seen massive productivity increases, having achieved in three months this year what they had in six months last year. Stephen attributes this to the fact that people are now working more cohesively, knowing exactly what they need to achieve and the overall atmosphere being more intense and steadfast.

Ralf and Stephen dive into the notion of diverse thinking and how although it’s somewhat new, it’s become an absolute priority – we need to find new ways of doing things and understanding them. Stephen talks about the importance of striving for a diverse and inclusive team who ask questions and push boundaries, noting that it’s often through being challenged head-on that we achieve our greatest success.

Key takeaways to watch out for in this video podcast

  • Being prepared in crisis situations is vital. If we don’t know what to expect, we don’t wait to see the scale of what’s coming. Rather, we put our best foot forward from the start in anticipation.
  • It’s no good being reactive – then it’s too late. We need to be proactive.
  • Being nimble and quick-thinking are qualities that are imperative within companies.
  • The best way in difficult times is not to tell, but rather ask. Get input and feedback from others.
  • Exponential thinking should be thought of as a new way of dealing with the fast changing future that creates new opportunities.
  • Sometimes we achieve our best success after being challenged by others.
  • Until we work in diverse teams and surround ourselves with people who are fundamentally different to us, we won’t take in the full spectrum of what is happening around us.
  • When people know you’re listening to them, they’re prepared to give you more information.

Stephen van Coller joined EOH in September 2018 as the Group Chief Executive Officer. Prior to this, Stephen served at MTN Group Limited as its Vice President of Digital Services, Data Analytics and Business Development. Stephen previously worked for 10 years at Barclays Africa Group Limited latterly as the Chief Executive of Corporate and Investment Banking from 2009 to 2016, where he oversaw businesses spanning across 13 African countries.

Prior to Absa he worked at Deutsche Bank for 10 years, where he served as Managing Director of Investment Banking since 1996 and also served as a Foundation Trustee in South Africa and Head of Coverage and Corporate Advisory. He serves as a Member of the World Economic Forum, represented on the Global Agenda Council (GAC) on Values as well as on the GAC committee on the Future of Banking.

During his time at EOH, Stephen and the management team have cleaned up the balance sheet, reorganized the business, and built a significantly stronger risk management and governance structure and team. Stephen, with his team focused on rebuilding the EOH credibility and reputation by addressing the corruption allegations and putting processes in place to protect the business.

In 2020 Stephen and his team have been working tirelessly to manage the organisational response to COVID-19 including implementation various cost savings measure, delivering COVID-19 solutions to the market and developing a bottom-up business strategy for EOH 2.0.

Stephen remains committed to ensuring that EOH re-establishes its role as the preeminent South African provider of ICT products and solutions on the continent and to ensure that EOH is well positioned make a meaningful difference in South Africa.

 

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