INYATSI CONSTRUCTION GROUP HOLDINGS is a construction company that specialises in infrastructure projects, including roads and earth works, civil work, bridge construction, buildings, storm water drainage, water reticulation, water treatment plants, sewer works, dams and reservoirs. Inyatsi Construction Group Holdings was formed in 2007 as the holding company of Inyatsi Construction and its regional subsidiaries.
The company has operations in Swaziland (where it is head-quartered), South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique, and registered companies in Botswana and Namibia. Inyatsi and all its subsidiaries are ISO 9001:2008 certified. It has completed the NOSA 5 Star Audit and was awarded four Platinum Stars. The company is named after the Swazi word for buffalo to capture the indigenous and hard-working heart of the company.
The South African Professional Services Academy spoke to Chief Executive Officer at Inyatsi Group Tommy Strydom on his personal and entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us about your brief history and your role TODAY, how was your training like?
I achieved a B. Eng (Civils) Degree at RAU end of 1998 and then went to work for a large SA construction company up to a senior site agent position by 2007. I have worked in various African countries on projects ranging from water, sanitation, roads and bulk earthworks and some smaller type buildings.
From 2007 to 2009 I worked for a medium sized construction company in Gauteng as a Contracts Manager and by end of 2009 however I started with Inyatsi Construction as the General Manager of their South African and Namibian branches. Following this I became the Managing Director of NCC Mozambique, which is the Mozambican subsidiary of Inyatsi.
I became the Chief Executive Officer of the Inyatsi Group in October 2016. What I realized very quickly is that engineers are technically trained but usually have no financial knowledge which they require when working and managing large contracts. I went on a self study mission to learn as much as I can about all financial matters and slowly but surely taught myself about financing and investing. I love to read and that has always been a major factor in what I believe people have to do in order to grow. It also allowed me to open my eyes to different opportunities and how to spot them.
What does it mean to you that your colleagues have entrusted you with the position of CEO?
It truly is a huge honour to fill these shoes. The people before me have done such a brilliant job of growing Inyatsi Group into this powerhouse and it is a huge responsibility to build on their legacy. It is however much easier for me as I have this great team working with me which basically includes each and every member of Inyatsi Group.
What would you like to have achieved by the end of your term as CEO?
I would like to leave behind a strong company that has a great balance sheet and a great team that can continue growing the company. I would also like to leave behind a culture of continuous improvement where each member of Inyatsi will feel empowered to identify and assist in continually improving each and every process within the company.
How would you describe your management and leadership styles?
I strive to lead by example by motivating the people working with me. I also feel strongly that a leader should always stay humble.
What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position as CEO?
I love what I do and cannot wait to get to work in the mornings. My family also contributes a lot to what makes me ‘tick’.
How do you take part in mentoring others?
We have just recently started a high school educational tour with a group of young Swazi leaders called the TIM Group that go to rural schools and teach children what other careers there are apart from the normal teachers, nurses and policemen that they usually see. Through them, I have agreed to their challenge of taking up a mentorship role to at least three high school students to guide them through the different facets of their life and hopefully make a difference to them doing this. I believe that mentoring is extremely important and that it is our duty as leaders to mentor as many young minds as possible.
What would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career?
The lows would definitely be the fact that I am only able to see my family on weekends. The high would be the day I joined Inyatsi Construction.
What accolades have you and your organisation received recently?
We have recently been accepted as members of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and we are one of the only construction companies worldwide that has received this honour. In my position as CEO, I have the honour of representing the company on the WEF.
How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives?
We have outperformed our target growth quite substantially since 2004 and we expect to show some more growth in the next two to three years. For the last two years however we have been in a consolidation phase to ensure that our staff as well as procedures is in place for this next expected growth phase.
Through what means does the organisation ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity?
Our management leads by example. We also have a fraud hotline that can be accessed via a toll-free number in each country we work in to report any possible fraud or theft. We also hold our people accountable for the decisions that they make and in doing so we trust that we will be able to continually better our integrity and ethics going forward.
Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to?
We strongly feel that we have to become more relevant in the markets we work in. This means that we must constantly identify and train people in the communities that we work in. Although it is not always possible, when we go into a new market we try and identify good local partners and work with them to try and grow them. We usually bring in our core people but try and train the locals to take over these subsidiaries in a few years time. By doing this we create a truly local construction company.
Highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of.
Our people have a passion for the communities that we work in. We sponsor some HIV/AIDS testing facilities in some communities. We also have a blanket collection drive where we collect blankets to give to the people during winter time. We have some budget allowance where our staff can identify a project in their own community and then through our staff they are able to arrange for these projects to be done by Inyatsi staff members in their spare time. These include things like painting schools or repairing some churches. In Mozambique we also recently handed out more than 2000 mosquito nets to children in the Gaza province. We also have an annual toy run where we collect toys that are then distributed to the local orphanages around Swaziland. At Inyatsi, we truly have a passion for our local communities and we strive to see how we can try and make life a little easier for them wherever we can
How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld?
In our business you are basically just as good as your last project. We can do 10 brilliant high quality projects but if we do one that is not of that quality, people will only remember us for the bad one. It is therefore essential that we stay focussed and professional. All our subsidiaries are fully ISO9001 certified and we also have a 4 star NOSA safety rating.
Where can people follow you online?
Our website is at www.inyatsi.net
Facebook: Inyatsi Construction Group Holdings
Twitter: @Inyatsi or @TommyStrydom2