With the illustrious title of being the first black owned facilities management business in Africa, Servest Group is a leader in the facilities management space . A Level 2 BBBEE contributor, Servest Group is committed to a long-term strategy of broad-based black economic empowerment.
The facilities management business is structured to coordinate all your facilities services, including operational and
infrastructure support, ensuring the integration of people, systems, places, processes and technology.
At the helm of its leadership is the new Group Chief Executive Officer, Xolile Sizani. Prior to joining the Servest Group, Sizani was the Group CEO of leading courier pharmacy group, Medipost and before that, he was a Senior Executive at the Afrox Group, during which time he spent three years in Germany with Afrox’s parent company, The Linde Group.
Sizani is a Mechanical Engineer by profession, having obtained his qualifications from the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University. He also holds a Master’s in Business Leadership from the Unisa Business School and has attended a Leadership Development Programme with Said Business School in Oxford- London.
Sizani is results driven and, like many engineers, takes a systematic approach to complex problem-solving. “At Servest Group, we aim to deliver personalised service solutions to meet high-quality standards and exceed client expectations.” “Critical to us is that we are able to optimise, standardise and synergise our processes for efficient delivery of services to our clients ,” says Sizani.
Facilities management is a profession that encompasses multiple services to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment. “What we do at Servest Group is integrate the place, the people, methodologies and their prophases so that, in the end, we achieve optimum functionality of the built environment,” explains Sizani. “Our view as an organisation is that, just providing multiple services is not enough— instead providing an integrated solution that links to the client’s strategy is very critical. Our strategy and vision are to develop a game-changing approach to facilities management as we focus our attention on developing a more integrated solution that speaks to our clients’ strategies.
“Our work is aimed at ensuring that the solutions we provide don’t just deal with facilities in terms of how we provide individual or multiple service lines, but they provide the client with a solution that talks to their overall strategy for the environment in which they operate in order to achieve their strategic objectives and triple bottom line.”
The secret to good partnerships lies in communication, and in today’s knowledge era, Servest understands the importance of having information readily available. They have developed their very own Computer Aided Facilities Management System (CAFM), allowing real-time reporting and information. In terms of sustainability, Servest Group’s modern, tech-based solutions provide innovative tools and skilled professionals to help clients achieve
the desired energy consumption and compliance goals, while reducing costs and minimising the business’ environmental impact.
Servest provides a comprehensive range of essential facilities management services to numerous clients across various sectors, including the retail, property, transportation, healthcare, marine, hospitality, mining sectors and others. Sizani explains that while they cover majority of the sectors, there is an invested interest to advance in the sectors in which they operate in order to meet the ever-changing needs of clients. “We operate on more than 11 100 sites and that, for us, has been a pillar of strength because we are able to repurpose resources and skills over different sectors. For example, we are able to take some of the solutions that we are providing in the retail space, and bring those learnings into another sector like transport, and so forth. Leveraging off our cross sector learnings puts us in a great position to not only innovate in this space but disrupt, bringing the lessons and learnings into other service sectors,” explains Sizani.
To ensure excellent service across such a wide field, the company places a great deal of emphasis on the upskilling of its employees. “We are passionate about our people, as we understand that our industry is a people driven one. We have 24 000 employees who are the heartbeat of this organisation, and for us, it’s a necessity that our people take centre stage. We are focused on the training and development of our people, and keeping up to date with new technologies ushered in by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Of priority to us is ensuring that our people are prepared for the change in skills being ushered by new innovations,” says Sizani.
“We have training centres where skills development, mentoring and coaching takes place. We also provide bursaries to our people for continuous learning, upskilling and development. We have a rigorous recruitment process focused on ensuring that the individuals we hire are motivated, willing to learn and trainable, especially, because of the work that we do and the demands of our industry. Annually, we spend millions of Rands on training and skills development because it is a vital part of our business,” he adds.
Sizani explains that, in addition to employee training, managers are sent to participate in leadership development
programmes. Servest also engages with a number of strategic partners who are in the technology space in order to discover some of the latest developments and to keep abreast of new innovations.
He says, “The pace of innovation has been astounding, and this industry is going to be one of the mostly affected by such innovations. With this in mind, as management, we are continuously looking at ways in which we can leverage technology and innovations to improve our delivery to clients while ensuring that our overall offering to clients is aligned to their strategic business objectives and triple bottom line. And for the facilities management industry, these include, among others, the Internet of Things (IoT), drones, automation and robotics; and wearable technology.”
Sizani says his vision for the company is to take it to greater heights as the leading Integrated Solutions provider in Africa and inspire his team to always work towards achieving more than has been promised. “I believe that if employees can have a self-propelling motivation that’s developed internally, they can do things that even I could not have imagined. That is why I am passionate about empowering people, enabling the personal and professional growth of colleagues, supporting them to make meaningful contributions, and more importantly, to believe that we can do more than we can imagine,” he says.
Sizani characterises his leadership style as transformational. “Transformational in the sense that it’s important for me that the clarity of purpose and direction are clearly communicated and internalised by others. A true measure of how I, as an agent of change and as a transformational leader, have succeeded will be the manner in which people are able to own the strategies and the approach that I have established, and whether they continue with it long after I have left,” he explains. Since its establishment, Servest Group has amassed a successful client base and expanded its footprint across 10 countries on the African continent. “This has been a result of our leadership and pioneering approach in facilities management. Last year, we divested in one of our biggest companies, Servest UK. Our goal is to expand even further through a focused approach around mergers and acquisitions (M&A). “Our aim is to deliver solutions geared towards Supporting the strategy of our clients. Our integrated solutions approach enables us to offer single point of contact solutions for all facilities requirements in the built environment, as we provide all services in-house.
This philosophy empowers us to simplify management services, saving clients’ time and money, but more importantly supporting our client’s strategic imperative and triple bottom line” concludes Sizani.
First published in BBQ Magazine