When EY alumnus Johann Vorster joined EY in 1986, he had a revelation. Networking is more than a competitive advantage – it’s become a necessary skill. Successful executives diligently work to identify and categorize contacts, prepare elevator pitches, set objectives and monitor progress. Yet professional education doesn’t fully prepare people to be successful professionals. “If you talk about skills that one picks up when you're auditing, it's very different from when you studied,” he says.
At EY, Johann learned to be more analytical and to take a step back and apply common sense in addition to academic knowledge when required. It was there where he honed his skills for the successful career that led him to become CEO of Clover Industries Limited.
An advocate of learning by failing, Johann says that to help employees be successful and entrepreneurial, you have to allow them to fail. “There must be areas where you really push them to such an extent that they do fail — so that you can pick them up and tell them what to do. And that is what I've tried to create in my organization.”
Networks that last a lifetime
Johann modeled his career by looking up to the leaders around him. “I picked up quite a number of ways of doing things,” he says, “I would think, ‘I quite liked the style of that particular CEO or the way that he treated his staff,’ and so on. I started to form a picture.”
“My mentor [at EY] was Tom Wixley, who was the CEO and Chairman of EY. I loved him so much that I eventually asked him to sit on my board, at Clover, which he then served for about nine years. And there, I still continued to learn a lot from him. I've recently appointed a new CFO, and he's also from EY.”
Johann continues to work with EY and several EY alumni, and is a lifelong member of our family, even if not an employee of our organization.