The big takeouts from the fifth annual Directors Event
The annual event aims to highlight some of the critical issues facing SA and the role of business in addressing them
Billed as "SA’s biggest board meeting", The Directors Event recently took place in Sandton. Now in its fifth year, the event brings together leaders and prominent decisionmakers from the public and private sector to seek solutions to some of the country’s many challenges.
The annual event attracted an audience of senior management and C-level executives. During three moderated panel discussions, industry leaders debated the major issues affecting SA’s economy.
The Directors Event is presented in association with the prestigious Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Awards, the Institute of Directors (IodSA), and in partnership with BCX.
Mandisa Ntloko-Petersen, chief marketing officer at BCX, says: “The Directors Event is a not-to-be-missed event on the calendar, offering a platform for dialogue and action that deepens democracy and promotes SA’s social, economic and political development. At BCX, we are a strong supporter of SA and this is why we chose to partner with The Directors Event.”
This year’s keynote address was delivered by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng who questioned how SA had jettisoned its value system to the extent that corruption was allowed to flourish. SA’s election process, he said, was fundamentally flawed, adding that it mattered who became president of the country or a premier, cabinet minister or mayor.
Leaders should not be chosen from the ranks of those who have resources or for their connections, but rather because they have the necessary skills to address the many problems facing the country, said Mogoeng. “We owe it to ourselves and to prosperity to appoint only the best to positions of responsibility.”
Candidates for leadership positions should meet stringent requirements before being considered and be subjected to much greater public scrutiny. “We need to be asking the hard questions of our potential leaders so that we get the best to lead us,” he said.
Mogoeng called for reflection on how political parties were funded, noting that the current system encouraged favours in return and that “money speaks”.
Watch the video | Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's keynote address
This year’s Chairman’s Report was delivered by Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa, executive chairperson of Sigma Capital and a trustee of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation (formerly known as the Shanduka Foundation). She said education would drive SA forward, adding that the foundation had made a number of contributions to support education.
Referencing the Ninja generation (no income, no jobs and no assets), she said neither the public nor private sector could absorb all school leavers, which made the creation of an entrepreneurial culture so vital.
A panel discussion on youth employment and entrepreneurship discussed current initiatives to address youth unemployment, as well as the need to create a more supportive environment for aspiring entrepreneurs.
A second panel discussion focused on digital transformation and whether inclusive technology innovation could develop SA’s economy. Technology is disrupting both business and society; it’s changing the nature of work and making a growing number of people redundant. However, there is no doubt that digital transformation is good for business. Digitally transformed companies are overtaking their less transformed counterparts.
SA needs to think carefully about which digital technologies it adopts and the potential social consequences of these technologies, to ensure a more equitable society.
The final panel discussion of the day focused on SA’s politics and the economy, both of which are in crisis. All stakeholders need to act in the national interest and make some hard trade-offs and compromises. Critically, SA needs to become better at implementing plans; develop better partnerships with the private sector; put the right leaders in place; and better manage political contestation.
The IoDSA has supported The Directors Event since it began in 2015. “It serves to highlight some of the critical issues facing our country and business’s role in addressing these issues, as our future sustainability as organisations and as a country depends on them,” says Parmi Natesan, CEO of the IoDSA.