Name: Ryan Blake
Title: Head : Cloud Adoption
Organisation: Capitec Bank
Working with technology has been a passion most of my life. I always loved seeing how technology can enrich people’s lives and unlock untapped value.
Even in school I helped my father’s business use technology to streamline their Admin and invoicing allowing them to focus on what mattered most to them, architecture and building beautiful homes.
I’ve worked with many companies both local and international.
Most projects have been in the financial sector and have streamlined difficult and complex systems.
I am great with people and enjoy a balanced lifestyle. So I also enjoy getting outdoors and away from technology every once and a while.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Ryan's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Adapting a meaningful vision to be clearly understood and which inspires people in both the business side of the organisation as well as the technology side.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
It was a progressive process, where as time went by I identified areas that could be improved and proposed ways to improve them and then got given more and more responsibility as I proved myself.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I generally spend quality time with our children in the morning before work, because my afternoons can be unpredictable.
Then I plan out my day, when I first start at work and have my team checkins.
With my department impacting almost all departments in the bank, then I will arrange a few 1 on 1 catch up sessions with other leaders during the day.
Then after work I try and gym at least 2-3 days a week.
And then I spend time with my kids until they sleep at 8.
Then after that I spend time on upskilling and learning for around an hour.
Then for the final hour of the day I dedicate to spending time with my wife and aligning and catching up.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Meetings can be toxic.
Poor leaders don't make optimal use of their time and allow themselves to be pulled into unnecessary meetings.
This often leads to them being "busy" and leads to a downward spiral and eventually their demise.
The reason for this is because being "busy" with things that don't matter and demotivates a person, and if they lead others, will lead to their teams also being demotivated.
And if their team is demotivated, then the team won't deliver continuous value and will lead to the leaders demise.
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?
Start with Why by Simon Sinek.
It taught me that starting with the why and being able to communicate it effectively to the respective audience is the most effective way to test the why, but also get others to buy into it with minimal friction.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Lifelong learning and learning to improve on your communications skills will take you further that you can image.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Being brave is tough but it opens doors.
A few years ago, I was leading the technology side of one of the larger departments and I wanted to take our departments systems to the cloud. But in the process, I noticed that the processes put in place made it very difficult for teams to build solutions.
So I did the analysis through running workshops and surveys with many teams and came up with a proposal on how we need to improve things and sent it to our divisional executive.
Then out the blue I got contacted by someone that I'd never met and he was starting a new Technology Strategy department and when seeing my proposal, he knew that I was the person he wanted to drive change in our Cloud strategy.
And fast forward a year and a half and I now head out all of Cloud in the bank.
All because I was brave and spoke up.