Looking back at the past year in CEO chair

Lubin Ozoux recently completed his first year as CEO of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA), manufacturer of the Dunlop, Sumitomo and Falken tyre brands. He took up the position during the height of South Africa’s second COVID-19 wave, facing and conquering some interesting occupational trials.

Dunlop1 Lubin Ozoux at work

He joined SRSA five years ago as the Director of Exports in Africa and successfully led the expansion into key African markets, later taking overall responsibility for the company’s sales throughout Africa, including South Africa.

“I brought in my own leadership style and consider the buy-in I received from everyone – from the senior team through the ranks – to be one of the most important contributors to our performance,” says Lubin. “Our people are empowered to play their part in driving the company forward, which is also proving to be the winning formula for conquering the challenges and turning them into opportunities.

Lubin Ozoux.

“Last year was a real stop-start year. The challenge in business is a bit like sport and you have to create the momentum, then ride it well. Unfortunately, supply was hampered by the various lockdown restrictions, and the July riots and looting in KZN later made it even more difficult to build the necessary momentum for success, but we laid a solid foundation for future sustainability,” he says.

“When you are people-focused and have an encouraging leadership style, you need both a clear vision for the future and a plan on how to do it if you don’t want to be a micro-manager. People need to know exactly where the company is going. I think we have done well in terms of creating clarity on our vision and what needs to be done by the various teams to get there.

“We give honest constructive feedback to our employees, and while this is tough, it encourages them by showing that they are valued. This approach across the business has helped us move as a team towards our core vision of creating sustainability.”

Lubin says the company’s short-term goal was to ensure sustainability for its 1 500 employees and their families, by navigating carefully through the hard times. Longer term, it’s about proving that South Africa can house a solid manufacturing sector, thereby ensuring the country’s prosperity.

“Besides making use of government incentives to create much needed jobs, manufacturers need to be sustainable and successful in exporting to attract foreign investment in order to grow. We are focused on our vision of innovation, sales and customer service and on disrupting the current tyre industry by bringing real value,” according to him.

Among initiatives introduced by SRSA over the last year was the launch of Dunlop Sure – South Africa’s only free tyre insurance with full replacement for irreparable damage caused by all road

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