Gary Copeland
Interview With Gary Copeland

"The key is to work consistently and work to apply the principles positively in your business. This linkage then enhances your personal experience and hopefully generates greater sustained results in some form for your business."

Gary Copeland
Caltex
General Manager
South Africa

IMBA Batch 2019

Tell us about yourself, your family and your interests.

I have a wonderful wife and two incredible boys. We are water lovers, and actively surf and play water-polo.

How have the current global challenges affected your work/industry and what precautions/corrective measures have you taken?

The pandemic has affected the economy adversely and significantly in South Africa. The economic recovery is likely to take time and as we have all experienced, the landscape is now markedly unfamiliar. Our business has focused on taking every precaution to protect our staff and our retailer network. A skeleton team manages the offices in our region, with most staff enabled to work from home. We understand the negative impact of Covid-19, but do not use it in justifying our performance. It is real but it is critical to adapt to the new landscape. Despite the challenges, we consistently engage our suppliers, customers and staff through technology and consistent rhythms. We are managing all expense items at a line level and actively working on our recovery plans with regards to the top line.

How do you think digitization is going to influence your work/industry?

Digitization has already impacted the way we work. We all conduct Teams / Zoom meetings daily and the use of these tools has naturally accelerated within our industry. Digitization of Business process, has also become a critical focus, with E-Proof of deliveries, digital signatures, e-paper all being expedited through necessity. Loyalty programs are already digitized but these are likely to be adapted and enhanced to align to the new macro environment.

Do you think it is important to have a sustainability strategy for your work/business? If yes, what initiatives have you adopted?

Yes, it is important.to have it. We work with our alliance partners to recycle, reduce and reuse. We have implemented solar energy within strategic parts of our network and strongly encourage water harvesting at our sites.

Does the course you are studying at Athena helping you to achieve your goals? Does it have a direct impact on the business or job you do? If yes, please elaborate.

The MBA really fulfills a goal that I had set some time back for myself and i always felt that i would know when the right time to complete the MBA would present itself. Perhaps there is never a good time to complete a masters, but my need to learn further and complete the qualification drove me to take the leap. The reality is that one needs to ensure that you have prepared yourself to make sacrifices in the short term, but in my view, the key is to work consistently and work to apply the principles positively in your business. This linkage then enhances your personal experience and hopefully generates greater sustained results in some form for your business.

What are your future plans relating to your career/business?

The Master of International Business Administration (IMBA) really fulfils a goal that I had set some time back for myself and I always felt that I would know when the right time to complete the course would present itself. Perhaps there is never a good time to complete a Master’s degree, but my need to learn further and complete the qualification drove me to take the leap. The reality is that one needs to ensure that you have prepared yourself to make sacrifices in the short term, but in my view, the key is to work consistently to apply the principles positively in your business. This linkage then enhances your personal experience and hopefully generates greater sustained results in some form for your business.

From a business perspective, our focus is on adapting to the new environment successfully, working to make a positive impact on our region through our network and continuing to sustain operations, which have a direct bearing on local communities.

Do you have any message for young people who are at the beginning of their career?

Yes, definitely. Please remember that hard and smart work does pay off. Maintain realistic expectations and keep your feet on the ground. Request and engage a great mentor. Build your relationships internally and externally, show respect and most importantly be authentic .

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