How to beat inverse correlation between new head offices and performance

With business leaders publicly throwing their weight behind the televised #SaveSA campaign today, it’s an opportune to remind them it’s even more important to pay attention to excesses within their own ranks.

Because in a country where there is still unequal access to education, a little bit of compassion – and a dollop of empathy – goes a long way.

Poster boy for how NOT to do things is Sasol’s unlamented former CEO, handsomely rewarded Canadian import David Constable. The company’s move into its new Sandton head office this week was a reminder of why the R50m a year Constable messed up so badly. It says much that he insisted the new HQ have a private executive lift, to further cut down time he was forced to spend with “common folk”.

Sasol’s relocation offers a stark contrast to another former State-owned company that also moved into new premises recently.

The new Telkom campus in Centurion is completely open plan with CEO Sipho Maseko swapping an ostentatious Telkom Towers suite with private bathroom for the company’s new executive standard of modest desk, a single cupboard and a four chair round table. Those kinds of practical applications adds authenticity to Maseko’s talk about downsizing.

There’s usually an inverse correlation between new head offices and subsequent performance of the company. Telkom looks likely to buck that trend. Sasol, not so much.

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