CFO Pride Guzha is building a new future for AYO

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AYO Technology Solutions’ CFO Pride Guzha has spent his first year in the role restoring the company’s reputation by focusing on reporting and collaboration.

Pride Guzha’s father was an engineer, which required him to be away for many months at a time working on mines. His mother, an entrepreneurial woman, did whatever she could to bring money in at home too. The oldest of four siblings, Pride was the one entrusted with withdrawing money from the ATM and buying household items when his parents were busy working. He became more involved with his mother’s businesses as he grew older, helping with the finances.

Even though he had a long-standing love of money – Pride tried out various career options. He considered geology, then a lawyer, then started another course and dropped out before deciding on finance. He completed his honours in accounting at UNISA, achieving his CTA. “When something is meant to be, you get pulled into where you're supposed to fall in,” he laughs about his journey back to where it originally started – with money.

This early experience has helped Pride significantly in his CFO role, where he has the task of ensuring that AYO has the support of shareholders as it seeks to grow.

Pride joined AYO Technology Solutions as a finance manager four years ago, before which he was an accountant at sister group, African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI), providing him with a vast amount of institutional knowledge about the group.

As CFO, he is charged with righting a company that has taken a lot of public flack, and even had its bank accounts closed because it was seen as too high risk.

He became part of the new management team six months into the financial year and during a major restructuring process.

“With the team under pressure to ensure that shareholders could count on AYO’s numbers, I paid extra attention to the results for the year ended August 2023 so we could prove that we had nothing to hide,” Pride says.

An innovative person, he takes pride in his work and ensures that the finances are right using a unique approach to challenges. “Each team has to prioritise their respective challenges and assign team leads to deal with the matters in an efficient and effective manner, which frees up people to continue to concentrate on operational matters so that the company does not lose focus on the core business during reporting time,” he explains.

With the recent set of results having been published, the company is now looking to grow. AYO plans to expand into Africa, taking the success of its subsidiaries into the continent. “Finance, which is building its own dashboard to allow it to better strategise as it will have oversight of all the entities and their financial positions, will support this ambition,” Pride says.


Developing people

Beyond using his institutional knowledge at AYO, Pride takes furthering himself seriously and wants to understand more about the business than just the numbers. To be able to understand companies on a strategic level, he completed his MBA at Henley Business School.

All the knowledge he has accumulated he shares with his team by mentoring the six people he works with, including a lady who has just joined and moved from an administrative role to one in accounting.

“I try to motivate and empower people to do what they love,” he says.

Pride motivates his staff to learn more and come up with their own development plans. For example, one of the senior accountants who reports to him recently started their degree and will be completing it in the next six months. “We embrace a collaborative culture so colleagues can develop themselves and have direction in their lives,” he explains.

Pride also enjoys looking after the group’s technology stack, which includes Health System Technologies, Global Command and Control Technologies, and Sizwe African IT Group, and he appreciates the impact they have on people’s lives.

He specifically mentions Health System Technologies, which provides software to enable the health system, in terms of ambulances, to run effectively. “I enjoy that space because I know most South Africans rely on public health care. This has an impact on the ordinary person.”


Finding solutions

Pride’s favourite part of the job, however, is looking for solutions, and the best meetings for him are ones in which everyone collaborates to find a way of solving a challenge.

A current challenge is cash flow because of bank account closures, which would boost the subsidiaries even more as they are currently performing well. Among those that did well was the unified communications division, along with the managed services division, which generated better revenues compared to the prior period.

“These challenges are addressed by engaging with external stakeholders, which takes time, but will pay off,” says Pride.

Pride spends his free time with his two daughters, one who just started school and one who is entering preschool.

 

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