James Claude, CEO of Global Voice Group (GVG), Talks Being A Leader in 2021
By Charndré Emma Kippie
Last year’s Africa Tech CEO of the Year Award winner, James Claude of the Global Voice Group (GVG), is known for his stellar approach to prioritising people first when it comes to business, and for utilising technology for uplifting people in the workforce. James has held the position of CEO at GVG since 2018, and was the company’s Chief Technology Officer in previous years. He has made significant strides as a leader, having notable experience in the fields of technical management, telecommunications and network operations. Thus far, he has led the company in maintaining its high standards with regards to customer relationships, and his team continues to exceed client expectations.
Global Voice Group (GVG) specialises in ICT and RegTech solutions aimed towards governments and regulatory bodies. Just recently, the company began its partnership with MedUX, a firm specialising in the analysing and monitoring of the experience and efficacy of telecom networks. The objective behind their new partnership is to collaboratively innovate and better users’ Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) across emerging African markets, in which GVG has already established a firm presence for well-over 20 years now.
James Claude has made some big moves in 2020, and his Africa Tech CEO Award can attest to his exemplary leadership capabilities and optimistic business outlook. Going forward, James is ready to continue thriving in his leadership role, and take his company to the next level.
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR AFRICA TECH 2020 AWARD! THIS IS AN OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT. HOW HAS BEING RECOGNISED AND CELEBRATED FOR YOUR SUCCESS AS A CEO AFFECTED YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS?
This recognition has been really meaningful for GVG as a company in a year that has been quite unsettling, globally, and therefore it came at a very special time. At GVG we are a resilient market player. We have proven that the company is both mature and strong enough to endure hardships while continuing to grow. In this sense, the Africa Tech 2020 award is undoubtedly uplifting for us, and definitely makes me look into 2021 with a positive spirit to intensify our work with renewed vigour.
GOING INTO 2021, WHAT ARE YOU SEEKING TO MANIFEST, IN TERMS OF GOALS YOU’VE SET FOR YOURSELF AS A BUSINESS LEADER?
At GVG we believe that learning from the past is the best way to move towards a brighter, more efficient future. We, therefore, face 2021 with a positive energy, while we analyse 2020. The past year has undoubtedly been an extremely difficult year for the whole world health-wise, but it has also affected countries’ economies, jobs and many other sectors. All of us have learned how to be resilient in spite of the circumstances, both on a personal and a professional level.
In terms of goals, I believe keeping up with a resilient approach towards our business strategy is definitely central. This year it seems we can restore our hope that life returns to normal. However, there still seems to be a long road ahead and we need to be ready to anticipate and adapt to potential changes that might shift our initial perspectives.
CAN YOU TELL US WHY YOU’RE DEDICATED TO OVERALL DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION AND BIG DATA SOLUTIONS?
Technology is always evolving and we see increasingly more governments and regulatory bodies pushing for fast adoption of solutions to remain competitive and secure at a domestic level, while at the same time, they lack access to trusted data to propel data driven decision making. Digital regulation relies on the availability of trusted data, and the effective analysis of such data to accurately inform policy and regulatory decisions, is precisely what we do at GVG.
Also, having had the opportunity to work in Africa for the past 15 years with a tech background, I firmly believe the right regulation and policies based on data, can really make a difference. They can impact people’s lives and are a catalyst for change in decision-making.
WHICH MAJOR DIGITAL TRENDS, IN YOUR OPINION, WILL COME TO THE FOREFRONT DURING 2021, AND DO YOU THINK THIS WILL BE BENEFICIAL FOR SOUTH AFRICA?
In an increasingly dematerialised environment which characterises digital society, citizens can go online to easily access a wide variety of services (healthcare, education and financial services, among others), which they may otherwise not be able to benefit from, due to cost, lack of infrastructure, etc. This, however, creates the need for digital citizens to be able to prove their identity when online, in a secure manner, using Trusted Digital Identities (TDIs).
Combined with mobile technology, TDIs have the potential to change the landscape of financial inclusion by enabling unbanked citizens to access formal banking services. Moreover, TDIs also promote overall accountability by establishing a clear link between a specific individual or entity and a specific action. In the same way, 5G technology will pave the road for the spread of IOTs, which will enable the implementation of smarter cities across not only South Africa but many other countries in the continent.
WITH YOUR SEASONED EXPERTISE IN THE FIELD, MANY ASPIRING SOUTH AFRICAN BUSINESS LEADERS LOOK UP TO YOU. WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU COULD PASS DOWN TO THEM?
I would actually share with them, what I think is the best career advice I have ever received, which is none other than to be an active listener, both at an internal organisational level as well as at a market level. Being an active listener will help you develop your sense-making capability, which is key to leading organisations in a fast changing world.
WHAT MOTTO OR LIFE QUOTE DO YOU PERSONALLY LIVE BY, IF ANY?
“Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously” ― Clint Eastwood