Nkosinathi Solomon - My leadership style is to consult widely with a bias for decisiveness

NKOSINATHI SOLOMON is Group CEO of SLG, the second largest gas trader in southern Africa. Nkosinathi is a seasoned executive with international experience of 15 years in oil and gas and five years in financial services. His oil and gas career started as a Caltex Refinery Process Engineer to BP Africa Head of Supply and Trading. In between, he spent three years at BP Head Office in London doing Structured Finance, Strategy, and Planning. His financial services career culminated in being Chief Operating Officer of Absa Life Assurance Company. He holds a MBA (cum laude) and B.Sc. Chemical Engineering both from UCT.

Solomon said that he finds the management and leadership challenge involved in running a business invigorating. He said, "This visceral love for business means that I can tackle each day with genuine passion and enthusiasm. I think one of my unique strengths is the combination of strategic thinking and operational effectiveness. In my experience, you either are a good strategist or a competent operator, never both.

So, the fact that I have a proven track-record of this ambidexterity allows me to add more value to my organisation." He added that growing up in South Africa and working for multinational corporations has imbued him with the necessary skills to handle diversity and stakeholders.

In reference to his leadership style Solomon said that he views consultation as an essential component of decision-making because it enrols others and reduces the probability of erroneous decisions. He added, "My leadership style is to consult widely with a bias for decisiveness."

Talking about the challenges that he has faced in his professional journey, Solomon said that like most Black South Africans of his generation, his first challenge was the lack of access to quality education. He commented, "Now, I think the country is grappling with the transformation of the economy to increase participation by Black people as well as structural economic reform to stimulate growth." However, he added that all of this is happening in the context of a general decline in the quality of political and business leadership.

Solomon said that the highlight of his career was an international experience working for BP Plc in London (UK) and the opportunities he has had to collaborate with BP colleagues in countries such as USA, Australia, Singapore, China, Mexico, and various African countries. He said that the international exposure provided him with a global perspective of business.

SLG is currently in the middle of expanding its Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) plant in Umbogintwini Durban. "CNG enables an innovative distribution channel to deliver bulk gas to distances of up to 150 kilometres from a gas source. CNG opens up new markets for gas and creates a new organisational capability within our firm. Given the gas distribution infrastructural challenges South Africa faces, this project has a long-term strategic value for South Africa," said Solomon.

He commented further that we urgently need the private sector, the government, trade unions and the unemployed to work together to restore our tattered social capital. Solomon said, "I think overregulation and corruption are undermining efforts to grow the economy. We need the government to step back from micromanaging the economy and business leaders to take more responsibility for transforming the economy. South Africa still has immense potential, but it is crying out for quality leadership."

Nkosinathi Solomon

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