They simply call him Saulos and he admittedly loves it that way.
He was one of them and patiently queued with them during a tea break in Mangochi despite being the deputy in-charge of Brand Malawi.
Having crossed to the political side of the divide, Vice-President Saulos Chilima has challenged corporate captains in the country to keep innovating or be wiped out as their business organisations grapple with rising competition and economic turbulence.
The former chief executive officer of Airtel Malawi warned the corporate captains against complacency in his speech, when he opened a National Executive Conference organised by Tevet Authority in Mangochi on Friday.
The gathering of corporate giants, a first in the authority’s inroads to empower the private sector, brought together 76 leaders of 41 established and fledging companies to discuss how to achieve business success in difficult economic times marked with relentless competition. In his speech at Makokola Retreat, Chilima asked the business leaders to be open-minded and learn from one another how the old-timers navigated turbulence previously before appreciating how rookies would act in similar times.
He explained: “The theme of the conference ‘Steering organisations through business turbulence’ is more befitting. These days, either you innovate or be wiped out from the competitive business out there.
“By learning new skills, networking and sharing experiences, which this conference is meant for, you will find ways of maximising business returns and promoting corporate brands.”
In an interview, Tevet Authority board chairperson Gilbert Chilinde said the two-day affair marked the beginning of a series of annual executive conference to come.
The conference featured a keynote address by South Africabased branding specialist and motivational speaker Thebe Ikalafeng, who urged the corporate heads to think outside the box because they are in competition with numerous competitors in 53 other countries on the continent and multitudes globally.
Ikalafeng urged the corporate chiefs to play by the rules of fair trade and integrity despite mounting competition.
He reckoned the decline of KPMG in South Africa, where recent revelations of the auditing firm’s shoddy work for the Gupta family forced its chief executive officer Trevor Hoole to step down at the start of the ongoing mass exodus of major companies, offers ample reasons for corporate to steer clear of scandalous acts.
“It takes over 20 years to build a reputation, but less than five minutes to destroy it. Think about all the sacrifices you made, the training, the hard work and the entire wait.
Is it really wise to destroy your reputation and the image of your company because you did not do what is expected of you or what you want others to do?” he asked.