“For the forward thinking, opportunity abounds,” says Barloworld Logistics CEO

For many, the term logistics immediately conjures up images of warehouses, trucks and forklifts. Not exactly on a par with Elon Musk’s rockets and hyperloops. Yet the global logistics and supply chain industry is introducing exciting technologies such as self-driving vehicles, 3D printing, blockchain and artificial intelligence into operations. In South Africa, the industry is not far off major technological transformation.

This is certainly the view of Kamogelo Mmutlana, Chief Executive Officer of local supply chain solutions specialist Barloworld Logistics. A qualified industrial engineer with 21 years of senior business executive experience, Mmutlana (known to most as ‘Kamo’) left his role at Super Group subsidiary SGE to drive further growth in the Logistics business – aligned to the Barloworld Group-wide growth ambitions.

Mmutlana told Moneyweb that he was attracted to the Group by its rich history, values and strong legacy within the South African commercial landscape.

“I also recognised the opportunity for a fresh start and a new challenge,” he says, noting that it is always valuable to ‘test one’s mettle’ and to continue to learn and grow, while adding value.

Since assuming the leadership at Barloworld Logistics earlier this year and in the midst of political and economic volatility, his main priority has been to quickly learn and understand what the business stands for, and where true value creation lies.

Given that Barloworld Logistics has a solid track record, Mmutlana’s focus has been on strengthening existing systems and processes, whilst augmenting areas of the organisation where value can be extracted.

“I have come in to be part and parcel of the team, as well as to be a leader,” he adds.  “I want to ensure that I enhance and add value to this ecosystem and culture. Strengthening customer-centricity and delivering value to all stakeholders will be key priorities in the coming months.”

Smart Partnerships, Smart Technology

Without doubt, consistently extracting and delivering value is a tough task within the industry at the moment, with South Africa in the midst of a recession. Despite this, Mmutlana will be looking to forge new partnerships and embrace fast emerging technologies.

“The challenges posed by an uncertain economic environment have placed pressure on the business,” he acknowledges. “For many South African businesses and business leaders, the current depressed economic climate poses a great challenge. We are in the business of moving the goods that drive the economy, so when the economy slows down we feel it immediately. In this environment, the ability to maintain a competitive world-class service, whilst retaining and building shareholder value requires new thinking.”

At Barloworld Logistics, a cornerstone of such ‘new thinking’ is the concept of Smart Partnerships. Essentially, these strategic partnerships enable the business to create customised supply chain solutions, while also forging a culture of collaboration and accountability. Through partnerships with key industry players, Mmutlana explains that Barloworld Logistics has developed numerous in-house and world-class competencies – and received many industry and supplier accolades and awards.

However, this outward focus on partnerships is bolstered by an internal drive for transformation, skills development and technological improvement. Barloworld Logistics has well-established graduate programmes and learnerships, as well as development programmes. For example, its female drivers and forklift trainee programmes have a target of 50 % women drivers within fleets by 2020. In a male-dominated profession, this focus on training and de­veloping skilled professional female drivers is a groundbreak­ing initiative.

“Without being open to internal change, we cannot survive rapid external change,” says Mmutlana. “Whilst reengineering processes to adopt technology is vital, it all comes down to internal skill, talents and commitment. It is therefore imperative to retain and empower individuals who can look beyond the now, and who have the discipline and imagination to build for the future. It’s one thing to find a new gadget, but entirely another to use it smartly to create sustainable solutions for all stakeholders.”