Man of brands

2013-04-17 11:22

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Hilton Mer, visionary executive chairman of Stuttafords, knows about good leadership.

Hilton Mer, executive chairman of department store Stuttafords, is bringing international brands such as GAP and Banana Republic to South Africa. He was a partner in a leading South African commercial law firm before moving into corporate life 16 years ago.

How do you choose which brands to represent?

They must suit our consumers’ economic profiles, deliver competitively priced value for money and be aspirational to all age groups.

What challenges have you faced?

The biggest has been the need to manage the expectations of people outside of our business units, such as shareholders, investors and regulatory environments.

Their interests are always paramount and sound, but often leave challenges in ensuring that the horse is ridden by only one jockey at a time.

What gives you a thrill in your work?

Seeing a plan come together and the delight it gives my management, staff and investors.

What sort of leader are you?

I’m inclusive and encourage interaction.

I give my teams the opportunity to contribute to strategic thinking and important operational decisions.

I also give credit for successes where it’s due. In turn, I expect my people to give the best of themselves and to apply their minds diligently.

What advice would you give young people who see themselves in a CEO position?

You need 100% commitment, and stamina – the demands are mental, physical and emotional.Innovate and aspire to be the best.

Pay attention to detail, but also learn when to look at the bigger picture.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver and remember that respect is earned, not demanded.

Magazines everyone should read:

• Harvard Business Review

• Forbes

• GIBS Review (published by Gordon Institute of Business Science)

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