Leadership challenges in South Africa


The client is a world leading manufacturer of equipment to water- and wastewater industry with its headquarter in Sweden. They have a global network of several product factories and service centers. There are sales offices in more than 100 countries. The sales and service company in South Africa had low performance and poor operating results. The business was not done according to a company policy with regards to code of conduct and they were experiencing poor leadership throughout the organization.


A change had to be made. The Managing Director was asked to leave the company and an Interim MD was put in place. All in all, it took only 10 days after enquiry from the client to the interim Managing Director being in place in Johannesburg. A Swedish interim who had a lot of experience running sales and marketing in global companies and in tough environment with big challenges.

The assignment was planned for 4 months until a permanent solution was in place, but due to the fact that the client was divested twice during a period of 6 months, the assignment was extended to 16 months. It was a turbulent and challenging time for the interim Managing Director but with his long experience he managed to lead the organization and accomplish the objectives.


The client changed management twice during the assignment due to acquisitions. The Interim MD had a change of reporting structure and board of directors twice during his assignment. In spite of this he managed to accomplish his objectives independent of the ownership of the company:

  • 25% of all staff was replaced and a new personnel policy was established
  • Re-organization of the sales force including closing of two sales offices
  • New sales policies were established with increased sales efficiency as a result
  • Operating capital was significantly reduced
  • The office and service sites were physically moved to a sister company with reduced back office costs as a result

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Per-Arne Stenlund