Born and raised in eMnambithi, KwaZulu Natal; Mr Erick Nsikayezwe Sithole has become the beacon of hope for many that are climbing the corporate ladder. His ultimate goal is to advance humanity across the globe.
He is the Founder and CEO of Nsikayezwe Management Consultants, a consulting company that seeks to provide better solutions to current and future business challenges. He is also the Founder and CEO of Nsikayezwe Global, a company that focuses on leadership challenges ranging from Societal, Corporate, Political and State affairs.
He continuously plants the seed of advancing humanity through instilling good leadership back to the heart of Africa. Currently, Mr. Sithole is serving on the following portfolios
- Chairperson: Risk Management Committee – Umhlabuyalingana municipality
- Chairperson: Risk Management Committee – Indwedwe municipality;
- Chairperson: Finance Committee – Harry Gwala Development Agency
- Board member: Harry Gwala Development Agency
- Audit and Performance Committee member of Okhahlamba municipality
He holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) & Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management and Administration (PGDipBMA) both from the University of Stellenbosch Business School. As a Professional Accountants (SA), He also holds the Post Graduate Qualification in Professional Accountancy (SAIPA), Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Internal Auditing (UNISA) and the National Diploma in Financial Management from Umfolozi FET College.
Despite his daily busy schedule, he still finds time to lecture at the Management College of Southern Africa (Mancosa) and Regent Business School.
It is with great pleasure to have you as our cover feature on our 29th edition of our ever growing National Business Xposure digital magazine, without creating any further suspense, I’m just going to get right into it.Q Can Mr. Sithole please share with us about your upbringing and your early years in life?
I grew up in Ladysmith, Douglas village – KZN. We spent most of our time with ugogo. Our parents would come home every month, after 6 months or once a year due to the nature of their work. Gogo taught us to be responsible as a result I started cooking when I was 10 years old using a coal stove.
My cousins and I had a roster, we were doing all the work in the house, cleaning, fetching water from the stream, cooking and etc. Even though we were always fighting as kids but Gogo taught us to take care of each other. She did everything necessary to put us in line including the whipping…(laughing)Q What was your journey like to get where you are?
As far as I know in life, nothing comes easy, we grow through hardships and pain. In simple terms, if we want to be great, we must be disciplined, consistent and learn to persevere. My living principle is this one – ‘to everything there is a season, seasons do change and therefore we must learn to outlast all seasons in our lives”Q Tell us more about what you have studied for and the experience you’ve accomplished as a result.
I studied financial management, internal auditing and business management; these qualifications made me to play different roles both in the Public and Private sector.
I’ve been a trainee, bookkeeper, internal auditor, assistant director and financial manager. Currently, I am providing guidance on governance matters and economic development solutions in different government entities, I lecture and I also run my two businesses.Q One question that our readers are keen to hear more about: Nsikayezwe Management Consultants, tell us about its background, detail service offering and what it has achieved over the years under your leadership.
Nsikayezwe Management Consultants “NMC” started as an accounting firm back in 2014. But as I was continuously developing myself, I knew that the scope had to be broadened. The Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management and the MBA capacitated me with necessary skills and competencies and a result we ended up offering more business advisory services.
As of today, we are not just an accounting firm but a consulting firm offering governance, strategy and innovation management solutions.
I started this company when I was employed but it grew, and on May 2019 I decided to leave full time employment and focus on growing NMC. So far, we are doing very well, we are expanding, our Headquarters are in Pietermaritzburg and we have opened another branch in Umhlanga, Durban.Q What are the most exciting aspects about your current role as a CEO?
Nothing excites me more than seeing people working and delivering according to specified targets and agreements without me having to close monitor every situation.
Secondly, I always teach our employees the importance learning to work independently, to initiate, to critically think and to self-correct. When I see my teachings manifesting in a workplace, I become fulfilled.Q How does your current role contribute to socio economic development?
At NMC we launched a programme called: Nsikayezwe Management Consultants Small Business Development and Sustainability Programme which seeks to address challenges that are facing SMME’s. The SMME’s are developed, guided and mentored by NMC Consultants for a period up to 15 years.
The programme includes but not limited to the following:
Brand management, innovation management, financial management, partnership management, decision making, stakeholder management and etc.
We believe that this programme will see many SMME’s rising and functioning up to their best optimal capacity and beyond.Q How old were you when you had your first paying job?
I was eighteen years old, working at Jet Store in Ladysmith during school holidays and my wage was R300.
Q Can you please share with our readers of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?
I am now convinced that I am one of those who will play a huge role in the liberation of Africans from economic slavery and poor governance, that is one of my major responsibilities.
A decision to leave full time employment was a major success of my life. I am happy, I am not regretting leaving full time employment. It was the best decision I ever made in my life.Q How do you ensure your organization and its activities are aligned with your core values?
You need to explain the benefits of values to your employees, make them understand why values are important. When people start seeing the benefits of values in an organisation, they start cherishing them and living according to the expected standards/ values becomes a norm.
Q If I were to call three people who have worked with you, how would they describe you?
I am sure they will all tell you one thing and that is: once I am convinced about something, I stand my ground no matter the consequences.Q Many employers are taking new steps to keep their employees safe from COVID-19; What changes have you made to safety protocols because of COVID-19 in your workplace?
We are following all the rules laid out by our government and scientists: wearing of mask is mandatory, social distancing, washing of hands frequently, sanitization of the workplace and etc.
Q How do you communicate real-time health updates about the coronavirus pandemic with your employees?
We have our own research and development division at NMC, so the team usually send all updates to NMC employees as soon as they become available.
Q Do you think male leaders are equipped to support and empower women in the workplace?
Leadership requires anyone who is a leader to develop and advance others. Developing and empowering of other people must come natural no matter the gender.
Males must not be intimidated by females. In fact, true leaders are not intimidated by other people’s success and ambitions. Therefore, my conclusion is that true leaders do support women in the workplace.Q When presented with different approaches to get the same different methods given by different people you are leading how do you select the method without discouraging the others you’re leading?
It is simple, no one is always right, no one is always wrong, all solutions are not the best solutions, there will always be alternatives, therefore a decision must be made between alternatives. This is a principle that we must live by.
Q In a growing and competitive corporate ecosystem, and demand for performance on a young employee, what strategies do you think can be employed in helping a young employee be mentored towards ascending the ranks?
We should firstly encourage young employees to find their purpose in life, help them to find their value, their worth in life. Allow them to be unique, they must discover their natural gifts and talents. Encourage them to develop themselves.
They must see a bigger picture about themselves. Have sessions with them. Ask them critical questions, for example: what do you think about our company? are you growing in this company? if you were a CEO of this company what would you change? how would you run this company? What do you think about our country? what are we doing right and what are doing wrong as a country?
Are you happy with the state of politics in our country? And etc.
At the end of the day we must have independent thinkers, critical thinkers, initiators of change, people who aspire to make a difference in the world.Q What has been your greatest career disappointment? What did you learn from it?
Q Will you kindly tell our readers something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on?
I don’t think I have one that can be described the greatest career disappointment, but disappointments in business have become a norm to me. They don’t move me, they don’t change who I am, in fact they make me a better person every day. Losing a client is disappointment, failing to secure a contract is a disappointment; so, these things are normal in business. We get used to them, but we keep pressing on ….
I do find time and rest, but many do not agree with me (laughing)
Q Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
Q We have seen CEO’s of both local and international organizations being implicated in unethical behavior and corruption, how do you personally avoid being involved in such scandals and ensure your company is ethical in its business dealings?
Martin Luther King Jr and Myles Munroe. Martin Luther King was a pastor who refused to be silenced, He questioned things, He questioned the status quo, He challenged those who were in authority without fear of anything, He wanted to see justice in the universe.
The teachings about purpose, leadership and about the Kingdom of God by Dr Myles Munroe changed my entire life completely.
These were two greatest men that ever lived on this planet earth. I want my name to be counted amongst theirs when I am gone.
It’s a tough one because sometimes you have to turn down some offers so that you can go to bed with a clear conscience. It is always right to do what is right. Have values in your life that are non-negotiable. Communicate them with your employees. Try by all means to live by them.Q What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
I would like to encourage people to subscribe to our YouTube channel: Nsikayezwe TV. We will be uploading more videos from the Nsikayezwe Global Leadership sessions.
We have the Nsikayezwe Global company which offers leadership solutions ranging from Corporate, Societal, Political and State Affairs.Q Which one thing do you wish you had done differently?
Currently I am not regretting anything that I have done so far, because even from the mistakes that I might have made, I have learned something from them. The principle is, all things works together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.Q It is often said that great Leaders inspire action – Why is inspiring and connecting emotionally with your employees so important?
People we employ can make or break the organisations we are trying to build; therefore, it is always important to know their backgrounds, their families, their associations and etc.
They must feel that they are safe in your company. Encourage them to speak up if they are not OK. Be empathic. Work but also play with them. Have the sense of humor. Spend some lunch times with them. When you apply these techniques very well, the working environment becomes healthy and conducive for their growth and that of a company. This is just emotional intelligence 101.Q How has the spread of new technologies like the Internet, smartphones, and social media changed the landscape for leaders?
Q How will you as a leader create a corporate culture and environment, advocating and encouraging dialogue amongst young leaders with the heightened awareness that in as much careers are important, young leaders starting off in the careers should integrate and balance work commitments, make time for themselves and their families.
The African proverbs says:if the rhythm of the drumbeats changes the dance steps must adapt.
The world is now digital and those who won’t adapt will surely suffer the consequences of not embracing change brought by technology.
There are limits in life, certain things we cannot exceed. A balanced life is mandatory. Nature is always teaching us this: there is a purpose for sunrise and sunset, purpose for a day and night, purpose for winter and summer and etc.
We must always reason with our employees by using the natural laws/ principles. If we violate natural laws/ principles the nature begins to malfunction. Same thing applies into our lives. Overworking can kill you. Anything that you overdo will have negative effects in your life.
A balanced life is a necessity, we must teach our employees to take care of themselves and their loved ones. I believe many initiatives can be introduced to encourage such a lifestyle amongst employees in a workplace.
Q What awards have you received in your career, what did they mean to you?
Actually, a lot but one which is very important to me is the one won by NMC in 2019, the innovation award from the Moses Kotane Institute. It means we are seen and we have a great impact in our society.Q What are your views on “Radical Economic Transformation?”
Simply means addressing the injustices of the past now! Start now, do not procrastinate.
It’s been 26 years of democracy and South Africa is one of the world’s most unequal societies in the world. So, what do we call this?
Therefore, I am in support of any law, policy, bill, program or projects that will bring a drastic change, improve the lives and restore the dignity of black people in their land.Q If you were to advise the President, what would be the key priorities you would recommend for dealing with poverty, unemployment and under development?
Justice comes first: the injustices of the past have not been properly dealt with in South Africa. I would advise the President to prioritize the issue of land and secondly to open the economy. The South African economy is only dominated by few individuals and the rest are excluded, especially black people. This is unacceptable, this must be challenged, this must be changed. A monopolistic system cannot sustain a nation.
I always say, when you continuously tolerate the exclusion of the majority of South Africans from participating in the economy, you are not different from the oppressor.
The President and his government must open sectors of the economy, i.e. the agricultural, banking, health, education, retail sector and etc. Let the previously disadvantaged South Africans fully participate in the economy.Q How do you manage to keep the balance in your marriage, family, work and your leadership work?
Ok, Erick is not married yet (laughing). But one must keep a balanced life, it’s a natural principle. Work and rest. Make sure that those who are living with you (family, friends and colleagues) do understand your work and your purpose in life. They must become your best support system in life.Q In one word, how would you describe yourself?
PhilosopherQ When it’s all over, how do you want to be remembered?
uGogo gave me a name: NSIKAYEZWE, I want to be remembered as a man that became a pillar of nations, a man that advanced humanity.