GIBB is a leading South African multi-disciplinary black-owned consulting engineering firm. The organization recently appointed Philip Gray as Managing Principal for its GIBB Capital division.
GIBB Capital is a project preparation and infrastructure advisory division, providing specialist services to unlock the financing and implementation of projects. Its services include, but not limited to: project perpetration; project implementation planning; viability and demand analysis; bankable feasibility studies development; transaction advisory; procurement strategies; project management; project due diligence; project audits and reviews as well as structured finance and financial modelling.
Gray has sixteen years of European and Pan African experience in various management and specialized positions in the banking and financial services industry. He joined GIBB from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (“DBSA”) where he served as a Deal Originator: Coverage Africa in the International Financing Division.
Philip Gray spoke to The South African Professional Services Academy on his personal and entrepreneurial journey thus far.
Tell us about your early life and your role today!
I feel nostalgic just thinking of my childhood years from playing street football with a home-made plastic ball to now being a part of a machinery that is driving Africa’s banking and infrastructure development agenda. It has been an unbelievable journey (an adventure actually) and my thanks to the good Lord for bringing me this far and I pray for strength to go even further.
My current role is an encapsulation of all the skills acquired over the years and this is the basis of my determination and enthusiasm to deliver on my responsibilities and performance targets during my tenure.
What was your training like?
My academic experience was very exciting and rejuvenating, learning something new is always a real joy and that resonates constantly in my mind that learning is a lifelong endeavour.
One can never tire for as long as you have an inquiring mind and the passion to aim for greatness and excellence. It is intriguing to see the actual application of concept and theory into the real world and making a real difference.
Management skills development remains a continuous process and one that I enjoy thoroughly.
What does the role of Managing Principal at GIBB Capital mean to you?
I aim to achieve and exceed revenue targets, increase market share, and foster successful partnerships with like-minded people, corporates and governments; all determined to see a better Africa – this means working with multi-disciplinary teams.
It means limitless source of knowledge and expertise, making a positive difference in people’s lives.
It means still interacting with lenders, an industry that I am truly passionate about, to structure and finance infrastructure projects.
It presents the opportunity to grow a business line and turn it into something that will make GIBB an even stronger player. It means personal and professional transformation for the long term good.
Lastly, it means the pursuit of excellence and enhancing a “can-do” attitude as the world of infrastructure financing is not for the faint at heart.
What are you currently working on and what can we expect from you going forward?
I am working on a number of infrastructure transactions that are at various levels of development across a number of African countries. This means hard work, focus, determination, team work and an insatiable appetite for success, not just for me, but for the organisation at large.
What initiative(s) (if implemented) would leave the greatest impact for you and for Africa?
I’m working on accessible development risk capital that creates an enabling platform for project development aimed at achieving the highest degree of merit in the preparation of projects. This will ultimately translate into well-structured and long standing infrastructural gains for the continent.
I will petition the willingness from our leaders to champion the quick execution and closure of infrastructure projects.
I will champion the implementation of policy that will create a sustainable return for the maintenance of the invested infrastructure projects.
I will lobby the improvement in health and educational policies that will promote and positively drive the development, long after we are gone; in other words, to build a better future for our children.
What would you say are the most critical resources for your successful leadership? How would people describe yourself as a Leader?
People are the truest resource.
I would not want to blow my own trumpet, as naturally people will only say all the pleasant things about themselves; that said, you would have to ask them.
What is the legacy that you would want to leave by the time you retire?
To demonstrate to myself and to those I will be priviledged to mentor along the way, in life, your sum total of endeavours should make a positive impact for the greater good.
To acknowledge and understand our shortcomings and mitigate them with our strengths. Remembering that we are and always will be our own limiting factor.
To never constrain myself and the application of my abilities. Through this, I am hoping that it will inspire others to find their inner strength, true calling and live a fulfilled life.
And lastly, to remember that “it is not over until we win”.
How do you strike the balance of career, business and interpersonal skills?
I do this with great care, consideration, respect and a level head. I am always cognizant that work does not define my life or me, but rather my appreciation of life should be reflected in my work.
I always maintain a positive attitude remembering the song, “dust yourself off and try again”, I actually like that song.
I exercise the mind, body and soul to create resilience and the right spiritual and emotional balance to be effective at the very attributes you are asking me about.
How has the organisation done in terms of business growth objectives?
From the GIBB history and plethora of awards to the status and respect commanded in the market, the objectives of the business have been met repeatedly over the years. Over the years these objective have been refined to get the best value and sound value preposition, not only for the company, but for the immediate stakeholders and communities as well.
The business is poised to grow into the foreseeable future, considering half a century has already gone by, aimed at continually responding to the ever changing business environment.
In other words, the business appreciates the concept that the only constant is change.
How do you maintain ethics, integrity and professionalism?
This comes from many sources, for example, family values, cultural values, professional ethics and overall Christian faith. This is something that must be as natural as breathing, but it is not to say that one will not encounter moral dilemmas along the way. I always strive to do the right thing.
How do you participate in mentorship, if you do?
I get a lot questions on LinkedIn, the gym, and at work. I am happy to share the little I know with anyone that will ask me aimed at progressive development and that has happened along the way.
I have my own mentors to draw strength, wisdom and guidance from, with the most important of them all, being God through Christ our Lord.
How does the organisation contribute to the community?
As one of the top performing firms in our industry, we believe that practical commitment to the community unites us as a firm, strengthens our reputation and creates vital links with the communities in which we operate in.
GIBB’s Corporate Social Investment (“CSI”) is aimed at putting our skills to work in various ways to give back to our communities. We direct our efforts predominantly towards education and community development which we believe is highly important to a brighter and more sustainable future.
GIBB staff are involved in:
- Community education and training.
- Support of sector specific career guidance for science initiatives in schools.
- Contributions and participation in development of support initiatives.
- Development programmes for youth and other target groups.
- Support of conservation projects, community clean up, food projects and garden initiatives.
- Support of community clinics and health programmes in the community.
GIBB has a dedicated national CSI Committee with representation from all our major offices across the country including: responsibility of the committee is to comply with the CSI guidelines, assess new initiatives and support and monitor progress.
CSI is at the heart of what GIBB stands for, putting people first.
How is the organisation doing in terms of Transformation objectives?
GIBB’s local ownership is unparalleled in a sector characterised by an increasing presence of multi-national engineering firms. This offers the firm a unique differentiation among South African engineering consulting firms in addition to its undoubted credentials in designing world class infrastructure projects.
GIBB’s B-BBEE initiatives aim to:
Continue to transform the firm and employee profile at every level, as per the employment equity plan, to reflect the demographic representation of South Africa across race and gender; and
Create capacity in the broader industry, through promoting and investing in education and skills development, capacity creation through preferential procurement and enterprise development and joint ventures.
On-going training and skills development is critical to GIBB amid an operating environment characterised by a shortage of engineering skills. GIBB recognises the long term benefits of keeping employees motivated and more adept. GIBB is committed to providing opportunities for further education, learning and development activities.
GIBB recognizes the need to invest in Small Enterprises that could support large complex projects in the engineering consulting sector. GIBB is therefore committed to addressing this challenge through our firm’s Enterprise Development Programme.
What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night?
The infinite possibilities!
What have been the highs and lows in your working career?
After 16 years in my career and longer in my life, there have been many lows and many highs which in my view even out. It is hard to get into the specifics, but all I can say is, endured the lows and maximised the highs. And most importantly, always moving forward.
What awards has the organisation won during your term?
Too soon, but I am sure we will win awards.
When you not at work, what do you get up to, including family life?
I spend time with my kids, exercise regularly, enjoy social gatherings, catch the odd block buster movie, read a good book or go to the park and watch a game or two when I get a chance with the lads over a beer or whiskey – was totally thrilled with Man U’s recent bashing of Chelsea and Barcelona’s outperforming of Real Madrid.
Where can people follow you online?
LinkedIn, not a fan of Tweeter, Donald killed it for me! Not a fan of Facebook much, too much dodgy stuff going on there.