“Doing great, looking great, expecting great things, planning great and managing with faith and grace in spite of all the marketplace challenges, cut throat competition and lack of integrity.”
The Chair, Corporate Executives present, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening.
I am honoured to be addressing you on this important occasion and trust that the thoughts we would share today and after this program would find relevance
I like telling stories and even more so when they are stories that glorify God.
I want to share with you a few thoughts on how God’s faithfulness has brought L’AINE this far.
My experiences in business and in life in general have led me to simple conclusion that, “Growth is intentional.” We should be able to clearly define what we want, where we want to go and how we want to get there.
In my opinion, the secret of fulfilment is excellence. I personally believe that, to do something well is to enjoy it. However, navigating a business is extra tricky these days. The speed of economic and technological changes means that, the right path yesterday may not work today and could be a disaster by tomorrow. Solving these dynamic problems is what separates those who excel from the companies whose doors are closing.
THE SIGMOID CURVE – L’AINE’S EXPERIENCE:
Business theorists predict that, businesses undergo four significant phases: an introductory phase, growth, maturity and eventually, a decline phase. But over the years, we have defied this business trend and stayed competitive and relevant. Through futuristic planning and timely marketing campaigns, we have jumped onto one sigmoid curve after another. For instance, in 2009, we rebranded our HR newsletter into a fully-fledged magazine called HR Focus, making it Ghana’s first and only HR magazine. We also partnered the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Ghana to publish the MM Focus magazine, which is an industry-acclaimed publication that highlights thought leadership and significant achievements in the marketing and media landscapes. In 2012, we introduced the HR Focus Conference & Excellence Awards, which has become a flagship Conference for HR executives and business leaders within the sub-region. Every year, senior HR leaders and business executives meet at a forum where high profile speakers and facilitators lead thoughts in shaping the future of business and in innovating the world of work. It appears apart from God’s unfailing grace, we have mastered the skill of anticipating the next market move and positioning ourselves to lead in that endeavour.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
Within the year when I won the coveted CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year for L’AINE’s dedication the country’s human resource development, we have received several recognitions and won many awards both at home and abroad. Some of these awards include
- CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year 2011 –CIMG
- 9th Most Influential Personality in Ghana 2012 – Etv Ghana
- VLISCO Women’s Ambassador 2013 – VLISCO
- Recruitment Company of the Year 2015 – Ghana Oil & Gas Awards
- 50th Most Prestigious Company of the Year 2011 – GIPC
- 34th Most Prestigious Company of the Year 2012 – GIPC
- Most Influential Women in Business & Government 2013 – CEO Communications
- Best and Most Innovative Pan African HR Company 2012 – Aspire West Africa
- Outstanding Female Entrepreneur 2013 – Ghana Women Awards
- International Star for Leadership in Quality 2013 – Business Initiative Directions
- International Star for Quality 2012 – Business Initiative Decisions
- Best Entrepreneur – Corporate Business Services 2012 – Entrepreneurship Foundation of Ghana
- Strategic Leadership Award 2011 – World HRD Conference in India
- Best Consultant 2010/2011 – International Christian Business Excellence Awards (ICBE)
- Best Consultancy 2010/2011 – International Christian Business Excellence Awards (ICBE)
- Best Enterprise Award 2012 – Europe Business Assembly
- Best Manager Award 2012 – Europe Business Assembly
- Annual Achiever Awards 2012 – The West African Regional Forum
- Special Honour Award 2012 – WASME & Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs
- Regional Winner 2014 – Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business & Government
Even though we had always excelled at what we did, when we took a decision to “go public” with our excellent service, we got noticed and started to win several awards. This campaign by our creative marketing team is in tandem with a famous business quote that says: “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a lady in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.”
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE – OUR PROCESSES
As a way of staying relevant for many years, we are committed to delivering human resource solutions aimed at total satisfaction and continual improvement. In pursuit of this, we are ISO 9001:2008 Certified. The ISO Certification is a mark of L’AINE’s commitment to quality service.
2016 Strategic Direction: 3 pronged pillars
Also, we have identified three strategic pillars: people, innovation and technology as crucial to driving long term growth and profitability. Under people, we seek to become a people-focused organisation where high performance is rewarded and work flexibility is encouraged. In fact, our people agenda encapsulates the pivotal issues in HR: talent sourcing, learning and development, engagement, performance and rewards. We have designed and will be implementing a personal improvement programme next year dubbed L’AINE Best of Me. We will also be executing a succession planning programme called L’AINE Be the Leader. On innovation, we are determined to create an innovative culture that elicits ideas for continual improvement and business growth. To achieve this, every department or unit comes up with innovative ideas every week during their KPI meetings. We also have created cross-functional teams and tasked each team to design a project (which could be a new product, a major process improvement or large scale cost reduction). The overall objective is to maximize value and achieve a leaner and more efficient system. Lastly, under technology, we are procuring a variety of enterprise-wide software to enhance process efficiency. We recognize that in a digital age, technology delivers competitive advantage.
ETHICS & INTEGRITY
There is always the temptation to be unethical in business especially when everyone is struggling to be more successful, to make the next quarterly earnings estimate, to keep their job, to earn a big bonus, or to compete effectively. The temptation to cut corners, omit information, and do whatever it takes to get ahead occur every day. Many business employees and executives succumb. Sadly, the theme becomes highly infectious and soon people actually start to feel like lying a little, or stealing a little, or deceiving others, is just “a part of business”. These practices erode the trust that needs to exist between employers and employees, between business partners, between executives and shareholders. Without trust, the business will not be able to compete effectively and it will eventually fail. There is overwhelming evidence to support the implications for business when its leaders choose to act unethically. Most notably, in 2001, Enron, a billion-dollar energy company based in Houston, Texas filed for bankruptcy. Apparently, the company’s directors had been conniving with its auditors: Arthur Andersen to be falsifying their financial statements. They shielded loses and exaggerated revenues to inspire hope in investors. It was not long and their unethical deeds caught up with them. Eventually, Enron collapsed as well as Arthur Andersen, an international accountancy firm.
INCREASED SELECTION AND COMPLETION
Contrary to public perception, one needn’t have everything to start his or her business. Gone are the days when it took weeks, months, and a myriad of forms to get your business registered. Now if you can buy a domain name and register your business online, you are in business. However, staying in business is a much more complicated matter. While business expertise was once an expensive and time consuming endeavour, you can now find experts online for many questions that you might encounter. There is help to starting an online store, for example, for getting business cards and marketing materials – all at a very reasonable cost. The ease of starting a business creates a much broader level of competition. You might find different business competing for each product you sell and new businesses that focus on a single item and spend all their time and focus on being the very best at just one thing. This increase in overall selection and more focused competition will make it more difficult for businesses of all sizes to retain customers who can change their suppliers with the click of a mouse. It is a battle of perception, focus, and marketing. Business owners who master these elements and provide a great customer experience will win the game.
Along the same lines as increased selection and competition is the challenge to market to potential customers effectively and retain your existing customers. Smart phones, social media, texting, email, twitter and other communication channels are making it easy for businesses and individuals to get their messages out. Figuring out the right marketing channels is key for businesses to be successful in the future. Where are your customers and how do you best reach them and what is the right messaging? Once you get a new customer, how do you keep these customers when they are constantly barraged by competitors of all types, sizes, and locations, trying to convince them that they can do it better or provide it cheaper? Identifying what your customers want and doing a better job of giving it to them will make all the difference in your company’s future. But I have noticed that, in business sometimes you have to create a need which your target market didn’t necessarily ask for. Who asked for the iPad or the iPhone? Nobody did. But through Steve Jobs’ marketing genius and product expertise, the world accepted them and Apple succeeded in changing the world. At L’AINE, we have blazed several trails. We were first to produce management training videos using Ghanaian actors. We publish Ghana’s first and only human resource magazine. We host Ghana’s flagship HR Conference & Excellence Awards to recognize outstanding HR practices and practitioners respectively.
But as a company we are aware of the tendency to become complacent as we enjoy the goodwill that comes with blazing trails. To combat this, we have redesigned our work flow such that there are cross-functional brainstorming sessions for workers to meet and work on projects. On the last Friday of every month, workers join their colleagues in other departments to discuss ideas, create projects, solve problems and create value for the business. This ongoing culture of innovative thinking ensures we stay hungry, passionate and results-oriented.
All of us, and especially business leaders find great discomfort in uncertainty. Because of global debt and economic struggles, uncertainty is more pronounced today than in the past. The sad news is that uncertainty leads to a short-term focus. Due to uncertainty, companies tend to shy away from long-term planning in favour of shorter-term goals. While this might feel right, a failure to strategically plan five to ten years into the future can end up destroying value. Businesses must learn to balance the need for a more reactive, short-term focus with the need for informed, long-term strategies. Uncertainty tends to put many into a general malaise – unable to get anything done. You need to shut out the world ending news and get back to work.”
FINDING THE RIGHT TALENT
Most business executives say their biggest challenge is finding the right talent,aligning them behind the company’s vision and retaining them. Despite high unemployment, many companies still struggle to find the right talent with the right skills for their business. Many new manufacturing jobs require high-tech skills, whilst some require several years of training. Because of changing technology, businesses are struggling to find qualified workers with IT skills, problem solving abilities, and deductive reasoning skills.
We have to understand that, when the season changes the assignment also changes. As we get to the end of the year, we are struggling to meet our targets knowing we reward for results and not for effort. We have to constantly look at our environment – social, economic, etc. and carve another strategy for the coming year and formulate ways to drive it.
To achieve this, leadership is critical, but many corporate “leadership factories” have failed to impress the stock market in recent years. A host of other competencies, from talent management and governance to finance and operational efficiency are important – but they alone don’t separate the winners from the losers, over a long period of time.
Rather, we believe that enterprise resilience is the most important capability in business today. And resilience is becoming better understood, to a point where it can now be measured – and managed.
Resilience is an organisation’s capacity to anticipate and react to change, not only to survive, but also to evolve.
In our definition, resilience doesn’t begin and end with a crisis-proof supply chain, as some would have you believe. And it’s greater than the sum of most companies’ risk management efforts.
Rather, the key word in our definition is “change” – resilience is required in response to all kinds of change, not just crises. To be resilient, it’s true that you need to be able to manage through an earthquake’s disruption of a supplier’s factory. But you also need to manage through tectonic shifts in consumer purchasing behaviour, by anticipating those shifts and re-orienting the organisation to continue delighting customers.
And change is everywhere, in every market. Megatrends are washing over the global economy – from demographic change to rapid urbanisation, from shifts in economic power to climate change and technological breakthroughs – together driving an extraordinary economic dynamism. The result is an uncharted ocean of change that some companies fail to navigate and that leads others to find new worlds of opportunity.
Some interesting statistics about S&P 500 companies
The Standard & Poor’s 500, often abbreviated as the S&P 500, or just “the S&P”, is an American stock market index based on the market capitalizations of 500 large companies having common stock listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ.
- The average age of an S&P 500 company was 90 years in the 1930s,
- 61 years in 1958 and down to 18 years in 2012.
- Think about it: that means 75% of the companies in the index will be replaced by 2027.
- That also means opportunity: 375 companies will earn their way into the S&P 500 by 2027.
Changes don’t have to be megatrends. For example, fine jewellery buyers traditionally have been men, in developed markets. Now, women are increasingly buying treats for themselves. That could mean different approaches to retail will be more effective in the future. Will established retailers, including current S&P 500 luxury brands, be resilient enough to evolve with their in-store and online experiences? Or will they fall into crisis as department stores expand their offerings and technology companies step into the mix?
The truth is that resilience in the face of change has always been valuable. What’s different today is the necessity to take greater risk in a fast-changing and unpredictable environment – and acquire the ability to spot and act on emerging opportunities before competitors. About 60% of CEOs believe they have more opportunities today than three years ago. An equal percentage sees more threats today. Indeed, 30% of CEOs see both more threats and more opportunities. Only 9% see both threats and opportunities declining.
Life is composed of ups and downs. Learning to get through the downs is key to being successful. Without obstacles, difficulties, struggles, and challenges, life wouldn’t make much sense. You become stronger, more compassionate, and more grateful when you strongly believe in your capacity to persevere. The most successful people know what it’s like to persevere and savor victory, personally and professionally–and so can you.