Jacques du Toit is the CEO of Vox. Vox has, under his stewardship, not only grown its product and solutions portfolio but also its employee base.
Du Toit believes that employees/staff are critical to the success of a business – irrespective of its size. He describes them as the custodians of your business. He says he is still trying to find the balance that ensures that employees don’t feel lost in the crowd.
Having started his career selling mobile phones out of the boot of his car, Du Toit has spent his 20 years in the telecommunications industry, always trying to help companies, both big and small not only communicate with their customers, but also tackle some of the operational challenges this brings.
Du Toit’s advice to entrepreneurs, mid-market and even large corporates is: ‘Listen to your customers. Don’t try to sell them things because you want them to buy, and sell them the things they are asking for. Everyone in the company, from most senior, to the lady that serves the tea, has to be customer orientated and willing to offer great service. Be flexible. Be innovative. Create what is needed if it doesn’t exist already. But never stop listening to your customers.”
An advocate for a balanced, healthy professional and personal life, Du Toit believes that if we deal with people in the workplace as we do with our loved ones at home that success is guaranteed.
For him – respect, accountability and efficiency are key values in life.
In this interview, Du Toit discusses the company’s highlights for 2018 as well as discusses his role within the company.
1. Tell us about Vox, when it started and what the company does?
Vox is a market leading end-to-end integrated ICT and infrastructure provider and telecommunications company. From data to voice, as well as cloud, business collaboration and conferencing tools, Vox offers intelligent solutions that connect South Africans to the world, supporting entrepreneurs, customers and commerce, whilst practising values of integrity, choice and service excellence in all its dealings. Vox came about due to an amalgamation of companies spanning the last 20 years.
2. Tell us about your role in the company, when you started and how you got to your position?
I am the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vox and consider myself to be a well-regarded industry leader. I completed my B. Com Bus at the University of Pretoria before embarking on my journey into the telecoms industry as a sales consultant at Cellpro in 1994.
In 1999 I joined Orion Telecom as National Business Development Manager and soon moved up the ranks to be appointed as MD in 2008. In January 2013, I was appointed CEO of Vox. In my tenure, the company has merged its business units, which saw Vox Orion, Vox Datapro, Vox Amvia, @lantic, Vox Telepreneur and Vox Pureview being consolidated into a single entity, today known as Vox.
3. What has been the biggest highlight of your career?
There have been so many and to name only one would be difficult but I would have to say that when I joined Orion (one of the group subsidiaries) I was the 47th employee selling only Cellular Least Cost Routing. It is amazing to look back on our growth to over 1400 employees and more than 160 products. I will never forget back in 2008 when an analyst predicted that we wouldn’t survive the aggressive voice deflation and further prediction was that we would only have one year of survival. We embraced the deflation, aggressively diversified and today we are positioned as a prolific disruptor in the industry.
4. Shifting back to Vox, what has been the company’s biggest highlight in 2018?
Undoubtedly the fact that we grew our EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) 45% – this was as a result of an aggressive growth strategy implemented in 2014/2015 which is now starting to reap the rewards. Our investment into our own fibre infrastructure business (Frogfoot Networks) has definitely been a defining point at Vox.
5. What plans does Vox have for 2019/2020 going forward?
We have a few focus areas, including:
– Aggressive fibre expansion – we want to have passed 500 000 homes and 50 000 businesses by the end of 2021
– Target outer lying towns on the National Long Distance routes with fibre
– High focus on customer retention through internal automation and the introduction to new technologies that will reduce cost and add value
6. With technology rapidly moving forward, how is it changing the face of traditional business?
Technology has literally changed every aspect of the way any business operates – from planning and strategising, to marketing, selling, communicating and making profits. Some key areas include mobile solutions, cloud computing, artificial and business intelligence, collaboration tools, 3D printing, drone technology, CRM and even social media.
Over the years we have adopted a culture which embraces rapid change and innovation. We have worked hard to position Vox as a brand agnostic solutions provider. This gives us the ability to deliver the correct solution regardless of the vendor.
7. What trends do you see impacting businesses and consumers in 2019?
There are a few areas that will have a significant impact on the landscape:
– Maturing of “smart” buildings, homes, businesses and cities
8. To finalise the interview, what advice can you give individuals when it comes to rising up the corporate ladder?
– Don’t be scared to take risks – trust your instinct!
– Understand your business, your market and industry and keep learning – never stop learning – the world is moving fast and you need to stay current.
– Take accountability.
– Share knowledge with your peers and empower them.
– Get your hands dirty when required and stay humble.
– Be passionate about what you do and have fun!