Jess Meredith Watts - "You've never perfected your business - there's always more to learn."

Jess Meredith Watts : Chairman of Talksure Trading
Jess Meredith Watts : Chairman of Talksure Trading

JESS MEREDITH WATTS, chairman of Talksure Trading, started his 20-year career in the contact centre industry in the UK in 1989. After a year at Manchester University studying Economics and Accounting, the driven and passionate Jess left to establish Cell Talk, a telesales company. The company went on to sell more than 750 000 mobile contracts and became the leading distributor of cellular devices for the UK's largest mobile network.

In 2003, he relocated to South Africa and set up an offshore Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company. It traded for seven years, selling mobile contracts back to the UK. Jess then founded Talksure Trading in 2010. Based in Umhlanga, Durban, Talksure has since grown into a 600-seat call centre that has more than 800 employees.

The contact centre handles in excess of 10,000,000 inbound and outbound client contacts every year and is fast approaching an active client base of 400,000 people. The flourishing company also boasts partnerships with Blue Chip international companies such as Marsh Risk, and significant domestic names including Tracker and MiWay Insurance.

But for Jess this doesn't mean it's time to sit back and relax. "Don't ever think you've cracked it," he advises aspiring entrepreneurs, "You've never perfected your business - there's always more to learn." This is evident in his determination to keep developing products that add value to people's lives. Jess believes this is one of the challenges of working in the call centre industry - companies need to strive to be creative and innovative in their product development.

While Jess has the vision, it's not all up to him. With the intrinsic value of treating people well at the core of his leadership ethos, he has built a loyal front line of employees that are ready to take the business forward. When asked what he finds the easiest about rallying people around a vision, Jess says that he treats his people well and so when it's time to go the extra mile, they have no hesitations.

"I've tried to build a culture of success," Jess adds, "I want to give people a sense of purpose." That's not to say that there aren't challenges to his job, "Being patient is hard," he admits, "but you can't force things to happen overnight." "I'm also quite a strong-minded person," Jess says, "I think people sometimes think that I don't listen, but that's not true."

Jess' is a multi-passionate entrepreneur and as such has also helped raised R1 million for StreetSmart, a Cape Town-based charity that funds education and skills training of street children. He is also the founder of Food 4 Thought, a charity that seeks to support children living on the streets of Durban. Funding for this venture comes from a supportive network of restaurants across South Africa as well as through the sales of a recipe book, a compilation of favourite dishes from these restaurants.

On the weekends Jess spends time with his 10-year-old son Oliver and enjoys playing tennis. "I'm also fortunate to have travelled extensively," says Jess, "I have a passion for Southeast Asia and their food and culture."

When asked about his life plan, he said, "I'm living it. It happens every day, I love my life."

Jess Meredith Watts - You've never perfected your business - there's always more to learn

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