This is the personal blog of Ty, a university student based in Johannesburg, and Cape Town, South Africa. It's all about everything he finds interesting and more... . And it was awkward writing this in the thrid person.
This is the first of what I hope will be the frequency of my posts, updates on what I found interesting during the past week. The highlights where last Thursday and Saturday. If you notice in between those days, it was Valentine’s Day. I’m not into that. Okay, maybe I am, but I don’t really have anyone to enjoy it with. Last Friday though, I was recovering from a massive hangover from the night before. Luckily, it only kicked in after work, so shit only got real when I got home…, slept for four hours, and got some studying going.
The Thursday I was with my friend from high school whom was here with her boo for the State of the Nation, and get in touch with her family because this lovely couple is getting married soon.
General Motors Co, the car maker that started distributing cars in South Africa as early as the year 1913, yes that’s exactly 100 years ago, has had an interesting few years. Apart from the complete overhaul of its cars in SA which include the Chevrolet, Isuzu and Opel marquees, it’s been fully committed to South Africa. Total investment spend in the country has exceeded R3.5 billion since 2004, and it continues to grow. However, it’s what was announced a few days ago that caught my attention the most.
For the first time ever, the enlarged GM group based in Detroit, USA, will have a female CEO, Mary Barra. Although this does not really affect how its South African operations will work, it sure looks like something very familiar in Mzansi, where more and more women are taking up the leadership roles previously held by males. The days of all-boys clubs are gone. It’s a great example that GM is setting, and appreciating hard work irrespective of gender. This also plays a great part to us in the automotive industry, where an increasing number of South Africa’s car buying population is female. The rise in the spending power of women could mean a shift from a long held “tradition” of making cars mostly to appeal to men – who are well, crazy about performance, showing off and all other ego boosters. Of course, that’s not to say that women don’t appreciate these as well. And to touch on a General Motors competitor, Land Rover, which is now owned by the massive Indian conglomerate, Tata Motors, has the Range Rover Evoque which exudes femininity like no other SUV in the segment. It shows that the future is now, and we could expect more and more design along these lines.
Staying with South Africa, another great and historic institution, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, has broken with tradition by appointing its first black, female chairperson. Currently, Nku Nyembezi-Heita serves as the CEO of ArcelorMittal South Africa, the Southern African division of the world’s biggest steel maker. Notwithstanding the fact that the company’s glory days diminished a few years ago: embroiled in a legal case with Kumba Iron Ore, losing most of its market value as iron ore prices soared and demand for steel in both developed markets and China fell, Nku managed to steer her company into a solid direction and not become a disaster like other SA companies which have had boom and bust written all over them. And with respect to the auto industry which I am involved, the most essential component of course being steel and other alloys provided by Nku’s Arcelor, makes me rest easily knowing that supplies for this very important commodity will continue at a guaranteed pace, thereby mitigating unforeseen loses if such a company were managed by incapable people.
If all the power rankings from the major media outlets out there where to measure Mary Barra, the incoming head of General Motors Company's influence only by the revenue the company makes, Mary would come in number 1 (GM's 2012 sales stood at over $152-billion). I hope that Mrs Barra, will do an exceptional job, not only growing GM in developed markets, but lucrative emerging markets like South Africa, where the car industry is so integral in providing jobs, being the source of innovation, and an example of how good business can be conducted in our country.