HATCH is passionately committed to the pursuit of a better world through positive change. Together they create unprecedented outcomes for their clients by partnering with them to develop solutions to their challenges that are safe, innovative and sustainable.
As a global professional services provider with over six decades of business and technical experience in the mining, metals, energy and infrastructure sectors, Hatch draws upon the experience of their 9000 employees in over 150 countries to challenge the status quo.
The South African Professional Services Academy spoke with Managing Director for the AEM region Dr. Pierre Olivier about his personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us about your brief history: academic, professional and your role TODAY
I was raised in Johannesburg and graduated with a PhD (Chemistry) from the University of Johannesburg in 1994 with a bursary from Gencor. My career began at the Impala Platinum refinery in Springs. Here I learnt the importance of technology and focus on production improvement to continually improve performance metrics. In the late 90’s I trained and became a certified SAP consultant and implemented the ERP tool for a number of local and international clients.
I joined Hatch in 1999 to take advantage of the growing requirement clients had to integrate their production systems with their business systems. I was initially part of the systems business but later moved on to manage our Iron and Steel and Energy business units where I was responsible for the implementation of several capital projects. This experience helped me value the importance of doing projects well, doing your homework and ramping up facilities to ensure profitable operation as soon as possible.
Our business continued to expand into new markets and I relocated to Canada in 2004 to help with the integration of newly acquired businesses and take on the role of Global MD for HR for Hatch. In this role I was responsible for the full delivery of HR in our ever-expanding footprint.
In 2015, I was given the opportunity to move back to South Africa as Managing Director of the AEM region (Africa, Europe and Middle East).
What does it mean to you that your colleagues entrusted you with the position of MD at Hatch?
It’s an enormous honour and responsibility. I was humbled and remain excited about the opportunities in this region. Working in an emerging economy, you can innovate more, you are able to contribute to and improve people’s lives more meaningfully by helping to close the skills gap, improving education and embracing diversity which creates sustainable economic growth.
South Africa has always been a place for world class innovation and being a part of the infectious excitement of growth keeps me fully engaged.
What would you like to have achieved by the end of your term?
Much like the ‘Thuma Mina’ stance taken by our President, acting for the greater good of our society – I want to build on the fantastic culture where all our employees are safe, nurtured and their vast engineering and business knowledge is harnessed to find practical cost efficient solutions to our clients’ toughest challenges, where even the quiet voices in our teams are heard. I believe in a flat connected organisation that innovates in all that we do, and that we retain the people who make a difference; our people are our greatest asset. Our workplace should be a space where everyone is encouraged to improve and grow to consistently offer exceptional quality in all that we do. I would like to see many more people in technical jobs where skills can be exported to the benefit of South Africa.
How would you describe your management and leadership styles?
Accessible, enabling and with an open-door policy. I appreciate diversity of thought, inputs from a wide range of individuals from across the organisation allow for collective decision-making.
What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position?
I’m continuously excited about the future. The strides being made in technology, and how these innovations are improving the lives of our people. I am inspired to find solutions to the skills crisis by contributing to the METF (Mineral Education Trust Fund) and the African Academy. The METF, through its members and contributors, ensure we retain the best quality academic staff at local universities. The African Academy trains draughting skills and project management where 80% of graduates are employed soon after graduation.
Helping to create more jobs and improving education in South Africa is something close to my heart.
How do you take part in mentoring others?
At Hatch we have a dual approach to mentorship – we have a duty to train young engineers and formally mentor them through their professional registration process. In addition to this we constantly grow and challenge our colleagues to improve the business. I take an active role in both.
At the end of the day we all must ask ourselves what opportunities we helped unlock for someone in the business.
If you had to relate a couple of experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career?
I’m grateful that Hatch allows an entrepreneurial spirit to thrive. I love meeting people with diverse backgrounds as it reminds me that as South Africans we can stand proud because we are on par with the rest of world in what we do. Hatch has seen outstanding growth, both locally and across the globe which is very exciting. My passion is helping to create teams that function at a high level and to make a positive contribution towards skills development.
I have not allowed many lows to impact on my enthusiasm but as a consequence of my career choices I have spent a lot of time away from family and loved ones. Some consider this one of the reasons that we remain happy as a unit.
What accolades have you and your organisation received recently?
Globally our awards and industry recognition demonstrate our commitment to continuous improvement and are too numerous to note in this article. Locally, we are specifically proud to have been recognised at two awards ceremonies this year;
We won two awards at the inaugural ABSA Business Day Supplier Development Awards, which celebrates organisations that are building a more inclusive South African economy through innovative and meaningful supplier development initiatives. Of the seven categories, Hatch won in the Youth and Newcomer categories and was recognised as a finalist in the Women’s Empowerment category.
In August, at the CESA AON Engineering Excellence Awards, Hatch garnered a Best Project award for the Tugela River Pedestrian Bridge project, a flagship community infrastructure project in rural KwaZulu Natal. The awards celebrate the innovation, quality and outstanding workmanship in the engineering industry.
How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives?
The past three years have been tough, it hasn’t been business as usual, but I am happy to note that the team at Hatch in South Africa has ensured that we meet our business objectives this year. We have a firm outlook on the future and as result of the diversity remain robust.
Through what means does the organisation ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity?
We have a flat connected structure and each employee is encouraged to demonstrate our values in their everyday actions and words. Our Associates, shareholders and key decision makers are the custodians of our culture and are provided with ongoing training and guidance on our brand values and manifesto.
Our code of conduct is widely available to everyone at all levels within the organisation, and to the public. A risk review team is involved in all our bidding processes across the globe to provide legal and transactional advice and we avoid unscrupulous activities, individuals and organisations. Our consistent adherence to stringent document management processes assures our ISO9001 certification.
Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to?
The Hatch diversity and inclusion committee monitors our commitment to transformation and in South Africa, we have achieved a BBBEE Level 2. We exceeded the scorecard targets in many areas. Since 2001, our focused transformation plan has been a business imperative, resulting in a continuous improvement of all elements of the scorecard. Our objective globally, for instance, is a graduate intake, at entry level, of at least 40% women. In South Africa particularly, we feel we have a responsibility to create lasting transformation by bridging the skills gap and employing local people.
Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of.
We mentor, develop and coach our engineers to ready them for certification to various industry bodies including ECSA.
Many of our engineers are involved in programmes to improve mathematics and science in schools.
Through our mentorship and continuous learning programmes, we give back by developing and educating our professionals. We offer support and funding within the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) environment in our schools.
We raise funds on a regular basis to support all kinds of community issues and Hatch regularly doubles our staff contributions.
How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld?
We are in constant contact with our clients, and all feedback is formalised into service deliverables that are measured. We make use of a CRM tool to track opportunities, our performance with our clients and areas of improvement.
When you not at work, what do you get up and where can people follow you online?
I love adventure and being outdoors. I travel as often as I can to experience life, the varied landscapes and cultures around the world fascinate me. To find out more about Hatch, visit hatch.com, follow Hatch on LinkedIn, or connect on twitter @HatchGlobal.
I am on LinkedIn and Twitter as Pierre Olivier.