By Michael Shapiro
Every individual, each family and all companies will have had their own 2019 experience. And whereas they might all be impacted by circumstances particular to them, our tendency is still to try and arrive at collective consensus: How was the year for all of us?
On a personal level, the year has been a good one. Our children continue to grow and to face the challenges that teenagers world-wide face. Aside from the usual tribulations, we found more than ever this year, that as a family, there is a need to constantly balance the complexities that increased connectivity affords us. The danger being that the more we are “connected” the more disconnected we find ourselves.
This is particularly relevant to me, as the Managing Director of Synthesis, where innovation technology is the very essence of who we are.
Our family is not unique in this sense. With an increasing number of South Africans able to acquire smart phones, essentially mini-computers, access to information, communication and commerce has become the norm.
Consequently, our customers, which include banks, insurance companies, non-profit initiatives and retailers, have recognised the importance of providing efficiency, information and accountability to customers.
As a homegrown South African company, we have the advantage of having a deep understanding of the nuances that make up this wonderful country, whilst at the same time, being able to access the best of what our technology contemporaries around the world have to offer.
It has been a wonderful year for Synthesis. Our growth has continued unabated with the demand for emerging technology solutions increasing constantly. The era of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) has not only arrived but has proven to materially change efficiencies and customers’ experience. It is no longer a strange and scary unknown that lives in the future, but rather a very practical and important business tool. Without which, we believe, that few companies will thrive.
In order to keep up with this trend, we have needed to focus on the growth of our team. The choice of staff is key and as company have placed significant emphasis on defining the culture and characteristics that increase the probability of success. Extensive research has led us to three words and qualities that reflect the nature of the company as well as our team:
Smart. Hungry. Humble.
As we know, nothing is static, and the fact that a member of our team might be smart, hungry and humble today, does not guarantee that it will remain so tomorrow. What this means is that there is a constant need for training, upskilling and mentoring in order to achieve this. Over the past year, we have implemented a mentoring program where each of our staff is mentored by another. In addition, each team member has an “employee advocate” so that career guidance, training and progress is always front of mind. We run ongoing self-growth courses as well as financial training for our staff and their partners so that each family can be skilled in these critical areas. We create wellness events such as team running evenings, Friday afternoon frisbee, golf, and run a competition which incentivises health and wellness in the months of February and October. Out of interest, the Discovery Vitality program was the impetus for this idea and I salute this groundbreaking, innovative product. Imitation certainly is the best form of flattery. As an aside, my prediction is that the Vitality wellness program will surpass the Kreepy Krawley as the most innovative concept to come out of South Africa.
South Africa is a country of wonder. The year that saw the birth of the #Imstaying movement is the year that saw Kolisi, Rassie and the Springboks bring home the Rugby World Cup trophy. The same year has seen a steadfast (albeit slow) fight against corruption and an honest confrontation with that which was holding us back. No country is perfect, but South Africans come pretty close. We continue to crack on with humour and optimism that is a truly unique feature, and to find ways to laugh, even when it is dark.
I believe that Synthesis is a microcosm of the country. As a company that reflects the diversity and broad scope of our greater community, it is not possible to walk through our offices, to chat to our team, and not sense the passion, positivity, and to feel the joy of appreciation for who we are.
May the year ahead bring success and blessings for us all.