Reggie Nxumalo is the general manager of Philips Lighting Southern Africa. A natural-born leader, Reggie exudes confidence and dynamism. He is inspired and inspiring and actively encourages others to discover their true potential by enabling rather than controlling, and empowering rather than rewarding.
As a teenager, Reggie received a life-changing scholarship that provided him with unexpected opportunities and today, Reggie is passionate about giving back to the community and especially to the less fortunate.
Sparks: Where were you educated?
RN: I began my primary education in Soweto at Siyavuma Lower Primary School and then proceeded to Luyolo Higher Primary School. I had a short stint at Prudence High School and was awarded an academic scholarship by AECI to study at St Stithians College and, ultimately, at Wits University and Business School.
Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry?
RN: I’ve been in this industry for a little over a year.
Sparks: When and where did you start your career?
RN: My career began in 1993 at 3M SA as a marketing co-ordinator. In the same year, I was sent to Botswana to establish 3M there. I spent three successful years gaining valuable experience in business to consumer (B2C), business to business (B2B) and business to government (B2G). I then joined Numsa Investment Company and later held other senior posts at Dell Computers, Microsoft, and HP’s imaging and printing division.
Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?
RN: The progression from landline to cellular, the shift from pagers to cellular phones, from desktop to Notebook and iPad and, of course, in the lighting space the big shift from analogue to intelligent digital lighting.
Sparks: What major projects have you worked on and what is your greatest accomplishment?
RN: From time to time, I conduct entrepreneurship programmes for ex-convicts through an NGO where they are encouraged to run their own businesses and to start small – even without capital. This ensures that the cycle of poverty and crime is broken as they can return to society with skills and a positive attitude. Change takes place, one person at a time.
Sparks: Have you won any awards?
RN: Yes, I was awarded the ‘Channel Executive of the Year’ by CRN IT publication in 2008 – voted by the IT industry (distributors and resellers).
Sparks: Who has been your inspiration or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?
RN: Nerva Ndlovu has been a source of inspiration to me. He always listens and helps me through my thought processes and is always encouraging me and seeking to bring out the best in me.
Sparks: What, to your mind, is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at this time?
RN: I believe that transformation is happening on two fronts: at the technology level and the business model. The technology change is from simple light sources to digital and intelligent lighting – with LED enabling this. Secondly, customers will no longer be buying lamps but investing in lighting as a service. This requires a significant change in business models and a new set of skills is required to appreciate and optimise this transformation.
Sparks: What do you enjoy most about your job?
RN: I do like juggling multiple balls and problem solving but mostly I enjoy shifting the perceptions people have about lighting and showing them that lighting goes beyond simple illumination.
Sparks: How do you motivate your staff?
RN: By engaging and listening. I find that people simply want to be heard; very often management believes they have the answers but are often pleasantly surprised when employees provide them.
Sparks: If you could ‘do it all again’, would you change anything? If so, what would that be?
RN: Time allocation! I would be more ruthless on how I spend time on my priorities because I have come to realise that the successful and the not so successful have the same amount of time!
Sparks: Would you advise a person leaving school to enter the electrical industry? And why?
RN: Absolutely, they will have an opportunity to shape the future as this industry moves from conventional analogue to digital LED lighting.
Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?
RN: Keep abreast of the shifts in lighting technologies and save your customers money by moving to LED through reputable brands that are able to back up their warrantees.
Sparks: What is your favourite quote?
RN: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu.
Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list’ (things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’).
RN: I would like to visit 100 countries with my wife; watch the Wildebeest Migration in the Masai Mara; and write and publish books.