The Hatch Institute is building a new breed of Leader purpose-fit for South Africa

Culture-driven Leaders will drive success in South Africa

At the Hatch Institute, our goal isn’t just to help build leaders who can drive real growth within their organisations. We believe that business leaders who focus on their people, address the realities of race relations and who are purpose-led can change South Africa for the better.

We need systemic change to build a country that delivers opportunities to all levels of society, and we believe that change can be achieved through a new breed of business leadership: Culture-Driven Leadership.

How I built the Sorbet Group
through an obsessive focus on culture

Most entrepreneurial stories start off with identifying a business opportunity, then working like crazy to get it off the ground. If (or hopefully when) this is achieved, the next step is to try and build a culture that will help the company achieve its objectives through its people.

I view culture in a completely different way. For me, culture comes first.

My first business, K-Mart, catered to the black market in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Our customers and employees were predominantly black South Africans, and we quickly discovered that we needed to immerse ourselves in their culture, instead of the other way around. The more we shared with each other as employers, employees and colleagues, the higher our productivity and customer service levels became.

In the early 1990s, I launched a labour consultancy, Labour Link, to assist businesses navigate race relations within their organisations during one of South Africa’s most tumultuous periods.

Throughout my career I have remained convinced that, despite the complexity of the South African socio-political landscape, if we can create a working environment that is conducive to the creation of a common purpose of obsessive customer service, we will have the recipe for a successful business.

When I launched Sorbet in 2004, it wasn’t because I had a burning desire to change the beauty salon industry in South Africa. It was because I had a culture framework that was ready for a business opportunity, and the predominantly white beauty industry perfectly suited my needs.

Over the previous 28 years, from K-Mart through to Labour Link, I had developed what I believed was the blueprint for a successful business culture.

I set about instilling that culture into the Sorbet chain of beauty salons. Over the next 15 years, Sorbet grew into the largest beauty salon chain in Africa. In an industry where the competition was plentiful, it became clear that competitors could copy our look and feel, our marketing, our pricing and even our service menu, but there was one thing they couldn’t copy… our culture of service.

The attitude with which our staff delivered their services became our biggest competitive advantage.

Today, I’m even more passionate about culture than ever before, which is why I’ve launched the Hatch Institute. I truly believe that we’ve built a framework that any business can embrace and follow. I believe that if we all become ‘cultureneers’, we can change the face of business in South Africa, solve race relations in a meaningful and impactful way, and spread success across our country and all levels of society.

Are you ready to join South Africa’s ranks of Cultureneers?



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