l Boss of the Year 2004: Leader of 9,500 employees
The chief executive of Kumba Resources Ltd and president of the Chamber of Mines, Dr. Con Fauconnier, is the recipient of this year’s sought-after Boss of the Year Award.
Recognition and awards are nothing new for Kumba Resources: The company was voted a fortnight ago as the ‘Best Mining Company’ to work for and in 2001 Kumba was declared the best new listing on the JSE.
Fauconnier received the prestigious trophy at an elegant banquet lunch at the Sandton Sun and Towers Hotel, which was attended by top names in the business world and enthusiastic employees of all the finalists.
The other five finalists for this year’s award, selected from a total of 216 nominations, were: Amanda Madikiza, Marketing Manager, City of Cape Town; Nicholas Motsatse, Executive Director : Corporate Affairs and Marketing, SAMRO; Ann Nurock, CEO, Grey Worldwide SA; Jack Perel, Operations Director, Mediscor PBM (Pty) Ltd and Stephen Ross, CEO, Edgars Consolidated Stores Ltd. (Edcon).
This is the 15th anniversary of the Award, which is organized by the magazine Career Success with the Transnet Foundation as the patron and main sponsor and is also a member of ‘Proudly South African. It is the third time that a workplace leader from the mining industry is the recipient of the Award. The previous two were Willie Vergeer, General Manager, Sasol Coal Mines Division, and Jabu Khubeka, Manager, Social Responsibilities, Richard Bay Minerals.
A number of previous title-bearers including : Trevor Munday (now Executive Director Sasol); Humphrey Khosa, (now CEO of Mpande Capital); Seadimo Chaba, (now CEO Snyman & Vennote) and Martin van Zyl (now adviser to the Minister of Minerals and Energy) were present at the 15th anniversary lunch which also celebrated 10 years of a democratic South Africa.
Esmé van der Merwe, executive assistant who nominated Fauconnier, stated that of all companies in the mining industry, Kumba spends the most on training and development of its employees. Fauconnier manages this budget personally and sets the example by attending courses personally. In 2003 the company spent R62,2 million on training and development and trained 24% of the total number of artisans in the mining industry last year.
Employees stated that their boss was not only the driving force behind the successful unbundling of Kumba from Iscor, but also took personal ownership of the project and due to his enthusiasm and determination ensured that this major initiative was successfully completed. Despite the strong rand, (the company is a major player in the export market) earnings of Kumba, before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was R1,7 billion in 2003 compared with R1,1 billion in 2001.
Fauconnier believes in teamwork. He attributes the success at Kumba to a group of committed people rather than a single individual. “You are only as good as the people you work with. We manage through the skills of people, not through command and control. My job is chief hurdle remover, so the rest of the staff can get on with their jobs.”
He admits that exposure and experience (he started working as a miner in 1969) contributed to his present leadership style “I have become more tolerant when things go wrong and more enthusiastic when things go right.”
Fauconnier holds four degrees from the University of Pretoria in Mining Engineering, including his doctorate. He also has an MBA from the university of Oregon, USA and completed the Strategic Leadership Programme at the university of Oxford, In April this year he received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Free State.
Apart from the trophy, Fauconnier and his nominator received a number of prizes, ranging from holidays at Southern Sun Hotels, generous use of their cars from National and Alamo Car Rental to paintings from Die Kunshuis and fragrances from Aramis.
At the same event Sharanjeet Shan, CEO of the Mathematics Centre for Professional Teachers, received the award and trophy for ‘Emerging Leader of the Year’ from Unisa’s Centre for Business Management.
Sponsors of the Boss of the Year Award are: Transnet Foundation as patron and main sponsor, Schwan Stabilo as Founder Sponsor, Connex Travel, Donna Karran and Kiton fragrances, Giant Leap Workspace Specialists, Heavenly Gifts, Intercontinental Sandton Sun and Towers, KWV, Kunshuis Clanwilliam (paintings from Susan Ford and Wannia Marais), Laborie, National and Alamo Car Rental, Schwartz Jewellers, Southern Sun Hotels, Unisa’s Centre for Business Management.
Leadership words of wisdom
The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive.