It takes guts, tenacity, commitment and focus to run any services company in today’s market. Most Chief Executive Officers would agree with the notion, but for those at the helm of a global ICT services enterprise, the words are gospel.
Robert Sussman is the co-founder and joint-CEO of the Integr8 Group, South Africa’s largest privately owned managed service provider.
The company’s journey of growth and development began with a modest PC services operation based in Cape Town manned by a small group of like-minded individuals.
Acquiring the very best minds in the technology and telecommunications industry, determination to remain ahead of innovation and consistent service delivery has helped shape the organisation into what it is today.
Integr8 has grown from a national IT services company into an established global ICT managed services enterprise employing over 500 people.
Its service portfolio is designed to support clients who understand that business growth and technology integration are inextricably linked. This portfolio covers every aspect of managed ICT service delivery, with attention to existing and emerging trends – from cloud computing, social networking and virtualisation through to unified communications and advanced mature networks.
Sussman’s daily responsibility is to ensure that all silos of the business operate effectively – in their own right and also collectively for the good of the Group.
These silos include sales & marketing, finance & administration, HR & legal, as well as Technical & Operations.
Sussman’s background is in electric engineering. Over time, he has drawn on his experience and knowledge of the technology terrain to expand his influence and entrepreneurial skills. His aptitude for commerce and industry helped him gain early success.
He sold his first technology company at the age of 25 and has been the recipient of the Top CIO of the Year in SA Award on two occasions. Sussman has used his experience to add strategic ICT direction to all the company’s clients and has also contributed significantly towards the company’s win of the Most Innovative ICT Company in SA on more than one occasion.
The combination has ensured that Integr8 is able to add much-needed innovation and experience to client’s IT environments.
He has strategically used his predisposition to identify where and when technology can benefit industry and has maintained a sense of vigilance within an ever-competitive sector.
It is an approach that has served him well and continues to do so he says.
“I keep a close eye on all these pillars of operation and communicate with the heads of these departments daily. This is critical as it allows us to achieve our objectives, by making continuous small corrective decisions to keep us firmly on the right path. Apart from having direct and live access, on the nine screens on my desk, to all the data I need to make informed decisions, I spend time with the very reason why we exist, the clients.”
The thirty-something year old says the technology part of the business is straightforward – people are the most significant challenge.
“We really know our game very well in that we have been involved in this industry well before the turn of the century. When you work with very smart, but very young people, you are dealt a challenging but exciting day. Keeping a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, balanced with a healthy mix of corporatisation can be difficult,” he continues.
According to Sussman to be a CEO one needs to work hard – harder than anyone else. His advice to those eager to climb to the top of the ladder is to constantly reinforce ones knowledge and understanding of the industry, to be susceptible to change and to embrace the new norm of blurring the lines between ones private and business life.
“There are rewards – like profits and like watching people win by participating in a learning organisation where knowledge is shared and retained,” he continues