Serving clients across the globe

It took a vision of creating something purposeful and of ensuring that South Africa’s skills are provided in order to meet the needs of a growing global shared services industry that gave birth to SoluGrowth

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Now, with 270 employees and clients on three continents, the company is fast becoming one of the leading lights in the shared services industry, built on the foundation of its co-founder, Sandile Gwala’s 21 years of experience in Deloitte as an Information Systems Auditor, to now supply South African skills to companies across the globe.

“I was trained as an auditor and completed a B.Com in Information Systems. I joined Deloitte as an IT Auditor and went on to do my MBA in Information Systems. By the time I got into outsourcing, I was immersed in a space which, at its core, relies on how much you use information systems, and this has advanced into pioneering solutions such as digitisation, data analytics, robotics and artificial intelligence. However, at our operational core is how well we utilise information systems to improve clients’ business processes and help create efficiencies for our clients.

“When I reflect on all of my training and the vast amount of experience gained over the years, it gives me a deep appreciation for how we can add value to clients, and that makes it easier for us to grow our business. Right from the start of my work experience, I was exposed to serving international clients. I have always maintained that a global mindset is required to successfully solve our clients’ complex problems. Our primary business now is based on us being successful as a global service provider.

“It is about more than what we do for clients in South Africa, it is about what we do to utilise South African skills in the global workplace,” Gwala explains.

His philosophy that underpins it all is client centricity. The business revolves around putting clients first, understanding their needs and being able to change as their business realities change.

In the process, the company has been a key driver of job creation and is currently training 35 interns as it gears up for the export of South African skills to an offshore client. Gwala’s background in mentoring in his community and church—and especially when he worked for Deloitte—paved the way for him.

“I’ve always liked to mentor others. Deloitte taught me that if I found good talent, the firm would sponsor their university fees and, in most cases, we would be able to offer them work opportunities thereafter.

“We drive business in order to create job opportunities, not for ourselves but for other professionals,” he says. South Africa’s youth unemployment level calls for unselfish entrepreneurs, hence, he’s also accepted an invitation to join the Board of Directors of Harambee, the skills development NGO aimed at solving youth unemployment.

With the company growth based “on a vision bigger than us”, SoluGrowth mainly provides actuarial, IT, payroll and accounting skills and provides business process solutions to companies across the globe, maintaining a firm foothold in South Africa.

“Our business clients are located in the United States, the United Kingdom, the rest of Africa—mainly in the Anglophone countries—and we are currently targeting Australia, which is a new market for us. Our biggest client is based in the United States.

“That is our global footprint, however, we will only have marketing offices in those countries because all of our assignments are delivered in our shared service centres in South Africa. We create a shared environment, we employ in South Africa and we provide human and digital skills overseas. We also serve a number of South African clients, including national government departments,” he says.

Working on the basis of references only, SoluGrowth has built a formidable strategy and are playing a proactive role in marketing the country overseas in terms of services in a highly competitive market.

When it comes to leadership, Gwala is motivated by a higher cause by always striving for more.

“As the co-founder and CEO of the company, my leadership philosophy is that we should create a vision bigger than ourselves and use that vision to get the right people to drive it with us. I believe that if you have the right people, you have the glue to keep it together. You can never lead without vision and the right team. That is key. The vision enables you to attract the right talent,” he says.

Gwala doesn’t like being a follower. He leads by example and advocates change. And the growth of SoluGrowth as a leader in selling South Africa’s skills abroad is a testament to that. 

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