How to succeed in Africa: 5 questions for Kamal Patel (Thomson Reuters)

Local talent, knowledge and understanding of the local context is crucial for businesses to be successful in African countries north of South Africa, says Kamal Patel, Head of Corporates & Partnerships at Thomson Reuters. Kamal is one of the exciting speakers lined up for our CFO event Moving into Africa on Wednesday 16 March 2016. To get to know him we contacted him - during a business trip in Ethiopia! - and asked him five questions.

What has been your proudest career achievement before you joined Thomson Reuters?
“Establishing a strategy consulting capability at KPMG, building a methodology, building and upskilling a team and winning some key public sector work in Southern Africa.”


What has been the most exciting development that you have been involved in since joining Thomson Reuters?
“Developing and implementing the Thomson Reuters Africa strategy which aims to more than double our business in the Sub-Saharan region by 2020. Truly delivering on Thomson Reuters new slogan of being ‘The Answer Company’, by putting the customer first and establishing a customer-focussed unit to work with our customers to solve their challenges holistically across all our solutions and business units.”

What should CFOs that (want to) operate in African countries know about talent management? How should they get involved?
“Local talent is a key driver for success when operating in Africa. Cultural norms, local business understanding, connectivity within the business and governmental community and a passion for developing the local market can only be achieved from local talent. This requires a blend of expat talent and local talent to work together to establish capability, transfer skills and scale up the local workforce.”

What role does knowledge play for companies that want to 'make it in Africa'?
“Knowledge plays a fundamental role in understanding the commercial, social and political landscape within countries in Africa. On a continent that has such diverse cultures, political regimes and markets, it is key for organisations to be able to understand the context before market entry and continuously be on top of key indicators while continuing to operate in a region.”

What role should CFOs play to make sure that this knowledge is properly accessed, managed and used?
“CFOs, along with the rest of the C-Suite, play a critical role of coordinating and directing knowledge. I an age of information overload, it is key to rapidly assess and quantify the relevance and impact of knowledge and ensure it gets to the right people within the organisation.”

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