Stuart joined the GCX team in 2020 and has 7 years of sustainability and technology consulting experience. He is based in GCX’s Jo’burg office and is responsible for identifying new growth streams and assisting the CEO in executing the sales and marketing strategy. Stuart holds a Master of Business Administration from the Gordon Institute of Business Science where he was awarded the top student award for innovation and design. Connect with Stuart on Linkedin.
What has been your favourite project at GCX so far?
There’s actually a lot on the go, which has been really exciting. Working with Kevin, our CEO, has been a real eye-opening experience in terms of interacting with and learning from him, and meeting and engaging with a lot of C-suite executives. In terms of projects, we have been very focused on building the real estate sector that we’re in and identifying key partnerships that we can leverage from a growth perspective. It has been a very exciting and new experience for me and I am thankful to be able to learn and build on my experience with this project.
If you could switch your job with anyone else at GCX, whose job would you want and why?
I actually haven’t given it much thought…[chuckles]. I would switch jobs with Bernie (Head of GCX Digital). Why? Because I have a bit of background in digital transformation and I have a love for technology and how it advances the way we do things.
What, in your opinion, are the three words that best describe GCX?
Entertainment. Spontaneity. Family.
What do you like the most about GCX and what is your favourite part of working there?
What I love the most about GCX is and it’s a cliché to say it, but there is a complete x-factor. Coming into the business I was immediately drawn to the personalities and what they stood for and how they portray what they stand for. It’s a family where everyone looks after each other. There is a completely flat structure. There is nothing about “I’m higher than you” – there is none of that. It is just an incredible place where you feel like you truly do belong and your input is valued. You have the freedom to be you.
How did you first learn about GCX and what first drew you to the company?
A recruiter contacted me and advised that my experience and background is a good fit for GCX. I thought, “why not?”. I met Kevin in Joburg and it was quite interesting because he spoke more in the first interview than I did [laughs]. There was a connection. He does have a certain energy about him that you are immediately drawn to. The way he explains something, his storytelling, it is incredibly capturing. I met the rest of the team in Cape Town and gave them a presentation that they really liked after the Rugby World Cup final of all times. And from there it was done – signed, sealed, delivered.
What are your hopes for the sustainability industry, and in particular GCX’s clients?
One is, our purpose is linked to inspiring leaders to adapt their organisations to create better business for a better world. It’s really around actually not just having sustainability, which I think is still a buzzword in South Africa. Businesses should confidently put sustainability first and really take action around it to build sustainable businesses, and leverage what we provide them for future growth.
Before working at GCX, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
I used to be a consultant in the mining industry and that required us to go into Africa. We only focused on mid-tier mining clients, which means that when we travelled around Africa our accommodation wasn’t exactly 5-star. We had to stay in some very interesting places and had very interesting experiences. It taught me a lot of lessons, one being that if you’re travelling into Africa pack a spare set of clothes in your hand luggage because there is a high possibility your luggage might not get there. Another interesting experience was being stopped at a border and told that I’m not allowed to get on the plane, because I didn’t have any US dollars on me. But I got to see different parts of Africa, interact with different people and learn new cultures, which was really cool.
I enjoyed travelling to Sudan the most. We flew in to visit a mining site very close to the Red Sea but had to travel back to Khartoum by road which is a 12-hour trip. We had a guide with us and we stopped at a lot of small towns along the way and one in particular, situated along the Nile River, had probably the best fish and chips I have ever had. We also saw the Nubian Pyramids that are actually the oldest pyramids in the world.
What would you say is the biggest career lesson you’ve learnt thus far?
Admit to your mistakes, own up them early and try not to cover them up as they become bigger things along the line. As hard as it is, take it on the chin, because as much as people will be angry, they will get over it and you will grow from it.
What is your favourite quote?
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” – Richard Branson
What are some of the books you’ve read recently?
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, Cry Havoc by Simon Mann and Red Notice by Bill Browder.
Where is your favourite holiday destination in South Africa?
The Transkei, because it is completely remote and you can get away from everything and decompress.
Finally, if you could meet anyone in the world (dead or alive), who would it be?
There are so many… I would like to meet Bobby Jones for what he’s done for golf as an amateur he never turned professional and won three or four of the majors and he basically started Augusta. Another would be Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blair “Paddy” Mayne, who was one of the original members of the British Special Air Service, because of his Irish bravado, calmness during chaos and battlefield intuition.