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7 Questions with Lunga Siyo

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Jonno White

7 Questions with Lunga Siyo

Name: Lunga Siyo

Current title: CEO: Telkom Business, Digital and Fintech

Current organisation: Telkom

Lunga is an experienced Executive Leader, CEO, with extensive experiences in running medium to large organisations and BU’s, achieving revenue growth, turnaround strategy and successfully starting up new Adjacent Digital, eCommerce and Fintech businesses from the Core. I have deep industry experience in Telco, Media, Technology, Oil & Gas and Financial Services industry (Banking and Insurance)

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1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

Tough external operating business environment. I mean factors that one cannot control such as the economic downturns, political uncertainty, uncertain international political environment. And to a large extent the social issues affecting our customers and communities across the country.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I started out my career as a Finance professional for a large global Oil company. This provides good grounding for what my career will look like, I like to refer to that experience, more of a corporate university. I learnt a lot, became a leader and grew as an individual. I then did significant stints in the Telco space and in the Insurance and Banking industry. I became a Business leader and thought leader on Digital Transformation and eCommerce, also grew my competency in managing large Business Units with P&L responsibility. My current firm headhunted me to join them and digitally transform a legacy business that wanted to pivot towards new digital solutions that will build future revenue. I guess I had the right kind of skills and delivery record at the right time to become a CEO or Leader of a business.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I have a plan that I execute on with precision so my days are structured to ensure that I have the right kind of conversations with my Team to drive delivery. So in essence I structure my days around, exercise to stay healthy, work meetings, time with my kids, wife and then enough time to catch a 6-7 hour sleep. Sleep is important to ensure my body is always in tip top shape and my mind focused. Time with family is important but also from time to time catch up with friends over beer and sport over weekends when time allows.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Always leave a place better than you found it. So I always like to leave a positive lasting impact on people and the business I lead.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I think for me, it's books by other Leaders (Business Leaders, CEO's, Entrepreneurs and Political Leaders) on their own personal journey's. Those books have validated certain assumptions, experiences as a leader and largely left me with a profound sense of wanting to do good but also become a better person.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

You put together a Team of high performing individuals, people that you believe will go further than you have or even better than you in some instances. You then create an environment that people will want to be part of, a culture that binds people towards a certain vision and a winning mentality. Ensure that every level of management and leadership in the organisation has the right capability to support business ideals and a bias for delivery. I always say, when I'm not around, the firm must run like a well oiled machine.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

A story of how I played a role in transforming people skills and capabilities in a positive manner in business I've managed. I once mentored a young lady who had lots of potential from an introverted non assuming leader to a strong confident leader who now leads a large Team and delivering exceptional results.