Hein Weyers – COO of Adcorp Training Services

For Hein Weyers good businesses all about creative leaderships, unlocking people’s potential and futureproofing your organisation…

Hein Weyers’ corporate career was almost scuppered by MasterChef SA.

While he’s is now the COO of Adcorp Training Services, a division of Adcorp Holdings Group, this hinges on a choice he made early 2014.

‘My hobby is cooking,’ explains Hein. ‘It’s totally outside of what I do at work and I really get a kick out of it when people love my food. So when the MasterChef SA Season 3 auditions rolled around, I was keen to join.

The auditions, however, were held on the same day as one of his MBA exams. ‘I had to make a choice and I chose the exams; I chose this. I did think though that I could always find cooking fame and fortune with the next MasterChef SA.

‘Of course, that ended up being the last season.’

If there’s any disappointment in missed opportunities it’s overshadowed by Hein’s droll amusement at bad timing and his passion for a career in what he refers to as ‘unlocking people’s potential’.


YOU KNOW IT’S ALL ABOUT A GOOD BASE

Adcorp Training Services is considered a leader in higher education in the manufacturing and production management space.

The group provides a wide range of courses in skill programmes and learnerships to the employees of companies in the industry sectors, either at its own accredited campuses or on site at their client’s premises.

It forms part of the portfolio for JSE-listed Adcorp, a global workplace solutions company that’s currently the largest of its kind on the African continent.

Hein’s tenure as COO of Adcorp Training Services kicked off at the start of 2017, but his history with Adcorp runs past as decade.

‘I’ve been with the group since 2005,’ says Hein. ‘In fact, I’ve actually experienced Adcorp’s whole 360 service offering, having been with them as a contractor and temporary employee, then becoming a client, and then actually joining the group.’

It’s this experience that gives him unique insight into the operation of the business, even though 13 years, he admits, is a long time to spend with one organisation.

‘The average time people spend with companies these days is three to five years,’ says Hein. ‘But what’s kept me with Adcorp is that there’s the scope to build my career by moving both horizontally and vertically within the group.

‘Most importantly, however, it’s given me access to the resources to live out my passion, which is to unlock people’s potential. It’s a company that specialises in people; in making an impact. And that speaks to me.’


CREATING YOUR OWN DESTINY

Hein’s interest in being part of an organisation that helps people tap into their inner resources and change the course of their life is more than corporate lip service – it’s personal.

From the small town of Oudtshoorn, Hein grew up during the tail-end of Apartheid. ‘Even though our family came from very humble circumstances, my parents always believed that my siblings and I could become much more than our background offered us,’ he says.

‘We were always motivated by them to strive to do whatever we wanted to and they always nudged us to be the best in that. I think this is where my own passion for people comes from, because I’ve seen what’s possible.’

The youngest of five, Hein made the most of the sort of independence that is channelled through the last-born children. ‘They say the youngest always gets away with a lot and I took a lot risks.’

At 15, Hein chased down and got accepted to his first exchange programme with a school in Germany, funded by the German government. It was an experience that would inadvertently teach him a lot about context and possibility.

‘I went in high school and then in university again. But that first experience was my biggest takeaway,’ he says. ‘I realised there’s a bigger world outside of South Africa; that there are other people with different views.

‘For example, at that time it was 1995, it was just after democracy. We were always accustomed in South Africa to the idea that if you work as a construction worker on the road you’re a black person or a coloured person. It was a massive eye-opener for me to see white people working in construction in Germany.

‘It created a level of subliminal equality for me. I really understood then that black people weren’t destined to have manual jobs; it was a matter of context and that the limitations that used to happen in South Africa didn’t have to happen anymore.’


COMPANIES ARE PEOPLE

After studying Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town and during his work as a candidate engineer, Hein quickly came to understand that his chosen field wasn’t going to hold much person-to-person interfacing. The reality wasn’t appealing.

‘Luckily I was given the opportunity through some of my workplaces to start managing people and working in a team. That’s when I found I could work with people to unlock their potential to get results for the organisation. I realised that it’s this that makes me tick and so I became more interested in the HR side of business.’

Today, Hein’s people-centric mission underlines everything he does. ‘At the end of the day, companies are people: our clients, ourselves, our colleagues. Everything about the company is driven by people.’

‘THERE’S AN ECOSYSTEM BUILT AROUND A PERSON THAT FORWARD-THINKING ORGANISATIONS SHOULD BECOME AWARE OF’

It’s about learning how to manage talent to tie it back to a company’s performance and bottom line. While business is generally coming to understand this, companies such as Adcorp Training Services are leading the charge.

Traditionally seen as a skills development business, Hein says things are changing to encompass a more integrated view. ‘A company that sees into the future is a company that doesn’t just focus on skills development, but on people development.’

There’s an entire ecosystem built around a person that forward-thinking organisations should become aware of. ‘It’s about learning how to influence a person’s skills, the management of their talent, their aspirations as well as their performance – and then tying it back to a company’s performance and bottom line,’ says Hein.

Importantly, he adds, it’s also about ensuring your company’s longevity.


A WAKE-UP CALL ABOUT FUTUREPROOFING

Organisation leaders need to wake up to the fact that for their business to exist in the future, they need to innovate at the same rate of their competitors, says Hein.

Markets are changing and innovation, creative leadership and maximising your greatest asset – the people who make up your company – are no longer nice-to-haves. They’re a need-to-have.

‘The Industrial Revolution 4.0 is on our doorstep,’ says Hein. ‘And, actually, it’s not even on our doorstep it’s in our living room.’

People have to embrace that robotics are the way of work going forward. But instead of seeing it as a negative, it’s the opportunity to start preparing and catering for the myriad new jobs that this will make available.

‘Where we used to outsource 12 people to a financial services company to process loyalty cards, for example, we now have one robot doing the processing and one person overseeing this,’ says Hein.

‘But we don’t see this as a threat to jobs. We see it as a migration to other areas of expertise. We now look to who’s designing the robots and the programs that robotics are working off.’

Looking into the future, Hein says, you must ask yourself what skills you need to develop to address your company’s future needs.

‘For ourselves, the question we ask is how do we partner to grow that curriculum, so that we can get those people or get it to existing people and get them trained in these skillsets – and then to ask what does that mean for their careers?’

INNOVATION VIA PEOPLE

It seems apt for a skills and talent management company to question how it will innovate its core business for the future, but as Hein pointed out, futureproofing isn’t a matter for only a select few firms.

‘For you to stay relevant within your industry, you need to be able to see the end of it,’ says Hein. ‘One my lecturers at business school always used to say that the roots of your strength today will be the roots of your downfall tomorrow.’

It’s important to protect the core of your current business, he says, but it’s as important as the leader of this business to constantly scan the environment you’re operating in.

‘To stay relevant in a perceived future you must continuously future-proof for continuity and sustainability today. You have to ask yourself what your winning aspirations would be in the markets you operate in and the innovation needed from a resource and capabilities perspective.’

Of course, the keyword here is innovation, both a process and a mindset that influences the organisational ecosystem and its prospects for the future.

And this comes right back down to people.

‘FOR YOU TO STAY RELEVANT IN YOUR INDUSTRY YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE END OF IT’

‘Innovation isn’t something you take out of a box with a blueprint that you can put on a table and everyone can study it and work from it,’ says Hein. ‘You need to be able to unlock it through the people in your company, your client’s needs, your employee’s talents, your colleague’s ideas…’

The will to futureproof and innovate, however, rests solely on the shoulders of a company’s enabling leadership. ‘If this isn’t delivered from the top of the organisation it’s not going to happen. It can’t happen if there’s no opportunity or environment for it to coexist in. It needs a supportive ecosystem.’

His advice to business leaders is all about the people: ‘Articulate your futureproofing business strategy to your employees; understand the gaps of capabilities and or resource perspective; allow for and create an environment for innervators to prosper in and allow for lean startups where necessary.’


THE KEY TO THE FUTURE IS GOOD LEADERSHIP

From a management point of view there are always processes and considerations that are front and centre: the tactical plan that needs to be implemented, the numbers that need to be reached, the profits that need to be made.

But from a leadership point of view, says Hein, you’re focusing on translating and articulating the vision and finding the shortest route to achieving it.

‘And time and time again we prove to ourselves that the shortest way to get anywhere through your people – tapping into their sweet spots and unlocking the individual potential to collectively unlock the potential of the company.

‘It’s about taking your message to the people and getting everyone on board by speaking to their hearts, to their passion and their purpose. They are the heartbeat of the company.’

Allowing people the space to open up, be creative and have courageous conversations is key to Hein’s approach to leadership.

‘I also aim to treat each individual uniquely and acknowledge that each person has different aspirations, passions and purposes. Ultimately, I want to understand what makes them tick and to work on their strengths rather than on their weaknesses.’

GETTING CREATIVE WITH THE COLLECTIVE

As a motivated and creative leader himself, Hein signed up as a founding member of Creative Leadership Collective in 2017 to connect with other innovative leaders looking to drive change in their organisations.

‘It’s great to be in an environment where you can see what people have implemented and what they’ve learnt so that you don’t make the same mistakes,’ says Hein. ‘It’s also about understanding where best practices are applied and to track strategy.’

But ultimately, he adds, it’s about the understanding around creative leadership.

‘To me being a creative leader is about seeing opportunities in and ways to overcome challenges. It goes beyond “just” innovation. I think it’s bigger than what we think it is and to build up the network of innovative creative leaders within the South African industry as well as the African context and to keep abreast of the developments in that space is, for me, critical.’

A self-confessed corporate junkie, Hein is one of the prime movers in the South African corporate landscape to drive the principles of innovation, creative leaderships and futureproofing.

As long as MasterChef SA doesn’t return to our screens at least.


Find Hein on LinkedIn and visit Adcorp Group.

Interested in Joining? Are you a CEO and/or an executive innovation capability builder interested in joining the CLC? Contact Paul Steenkampand he’ll guide you through our application process.