Leadership skills required to move manufacturing forward

19th November 2020 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Creamer Media Reporter

The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event that has led to a period of extreme change and volatility, and to overcome the negative impacts it has created requires leaders in the manufacturing sector to adapt to lead their businesses and teams through the crisis and into the future, My Growth Venture Capital CEO Vusi Thembekwayo told participants during the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association’s webinar on November 19.

He said leaders must find an underlying story that they can leverage to help employees create a sense of belonging and potential.

He also emphasised the importance of leaders being agile.

He noted that manufactures tended to think of buyers in terms of the demographics, which led to a very binary view of clients in terms of race, gender and interests, besides others.

However, he noted that the world had shifted and changed, with people more connected than ever before. Therefore, company management had to recognise that the market they were dealing with was shifting and changing.

Thembekwayo explained that values were changing, with peoples’ ideals of identity, wealth and legacy changing, and that manufacturers must tap into this to appeal to clients.

He indicated that by combining the hard data with this emotional intelligence side, businesses could prepare for exponential growth.

He also noted that, for the country’s journey to reindustrialisation, there was a need to understand what customers wanted, so that industrialisation served this.

Thembekwayo noted that manufacturers must deliver a customer-centric experience, which requires that they be relevant, responsive, reliable and consistent.


Aerosud Group information technology leader Johan Pretorius spoke on the development of rapid industrialisation of medical devices during the pandemic.

He cited the global shortage of medical devices and equipment earlier this year, which was accompanied by a global supply chain shutdown and a lack of locally manufactured goods to compensate.

Therefore, there was a need for innovation, rapid product evaluation, rapid product certification, rapid product industrialisation, rapid production and securing investors.

A highly regulated industry, manual processes, slow and labour intensive work methods, achieving effective collaboration between multiple parties and ensuring effective product lifecycle management were some of the challenges that also had to be overcome.

Aerosud used its expertise to establish a digital platform.

The solution encompassed three building blocks, namely automated decision-making, automated processes and an automated supply chain.

Submissions managed on this platform encompassed face masks, clinic personal protective equipment, ventilators, valves, connectors, splitters and piping.

Pretorius noted that learnings from developing the platform included that there was an overall lack of digitalisation and digital transformation in manufacturing.

He emphasised that digital transformation was required for the future of manufacturing, which would allow for the integration of people, processes and businesses.