FD Mikaeel Tayob: A brand ambassador for value

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Bridgestone South Africa FD Mikaeel Tayob reveals that he wants to leave an enduring legacy where he is remembered for his impactful contributions.

Mikaeel Tayob’s footprints in the finance profession go beyond South Africa’s borders. He says over the past 14 years, the vastness of the finance world firmly kept him intrigued enough to commit his career to finance.

“I have learned so much over the period, but my most important lesson has been that going alone gets you only so far. Going with a team takes you further.”

He says he has always tried to leave an impactful contribution at every juncture of his career.

Mikaeel currently serves as the FD at Bridgestone South Africa, a position he was promoted to earlier this year. “I joined Bridgestone in May 2021, initially to head finance within the consumer and commercial sales organisation. What drew me to Bridgestone was the honesty of the people I had met and the excitement of the project that stood in front of me.

“Six months in, my portfolio grew to include the mining services business and the logistics and supply chain organisation. Four months later, I was elected to the Bridgestone Southern Africa Board.”

Mikaeel admits that being a new and young board member was intimidating for him at first, adding: “But I quickly realised that you have to earn your place by demonstrating value – something I pride myself in every day.”


Where it all began

Mikaeel says his journey in finance was somewhat pre-ordained as he comes from a family of accountants and finance professionals with a legacy family business that is over 60 years old.

“Being my dad’s eldest son, as he was his dad’s, there was an expectation that I followed into the family business. From an early age, I had an aptitude for solving puzzles and problems with numbers. Realising the dream of playing professional soccer didn’t have ‘legs,’ I chose to learn the world of finance and commerce.”

He completed his undergraduate and honours degrees at the University of Pretoria. He says this provided the perfect foundation for his career by exposing him to corporate thinking and strategic problem-solving.

His first footprint in the finance industry was at KPMG, where he completed his articles in internal audit.

“Unlike many who get a set of clients that represent a sector, I was privileged to be exposed to a multitude of industries and organisations across the client spectrum. In hindsight, this shaped who I am today.” He says he loves being surprised and having new and exciting problems to solve.

“Working with so many talented leaders and colleagues provided the perfect viewpoint and brought to life the metaphor of ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’. Learning and understanding from their journeys kept adding to my perspective.”

He said after spending almost five years at KPMG, he got an opportunity to merge his sports passion and his career as he joined Nike.

“Initially, I was responsible for the South African Market in financial governance. My role expanded to include Africa and the Middle East, then into EMEA. I led the team that managed the financial planning and analytics function for EMEA East with teams in South Africa, Russia, Turkey, Israel, the Middle East, and the Eastern European distributors based in Dubai and Amsterdam.

“I started understanding the value of being purpose-led and driving concepts such as sustainability, which have become integral to how I have led my teams and conducted myself over the years. Again, travelling the world and working with a brand that I was truly passionate about had me fully invested in the growth of the business.”

He says he eventually parted ways with Nike after seven wonderful years had turned him into a brand ambassador. Now he uses this unique leadership style to get the best out of his teams at Bridgestone.


Constant innovation

Since joining Bridgestone, he says he has always felt a sense of trust being placed on him with a large degree of autonomy that has allowed him and his team to consistently innovate and remain agile.

Earlier this year, his portfolio grew again when he was asked to lead finance as the FD of the wholesale business, including the manufacturing business at Bridgestone.

He says his current role requires him to support the MD and his executive team in navigating through the ever-changing business environment, plan for the next chapter of growth within Bridgestone, and steer decisions that create sustainable value.

He highlights that he believes that his role fundamentally comprises three parts, firstly: “Keeping the lights on – those rudimentary activities that are required to continue to report with accuracy – creating the future, which are the innovative activities that drive the strategic future and direction of the business, and lastly, ecosystem partnerships for shared value – activities aimed at partnering both internally and externally to drive sustainable value.”

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