Ventso Group, winner of the Management of People Award in the emerging enterprise category
Let your people do the talking
One day, when Ventso Group is a household name, it will still be doing at least some of the things that its employees like so much about it today.
“It’s the culture,” says Nomtha Gobe, CEO of this fledgling corporate identity and branding company. “It’s a warm environment and we’re very close knit. The word ‘home’ comes to mind but I don’t want to create the idea that it’s just this comfortable space.”
She pauses, then makes up her mind.
“Okay, I’m going to go ahead and say home. It’s a family culture. There’s the brother you always fight with and love, and the annoying cousin who always calls you out on your outfit so that you always make an extra effort to look good… It’s the kind of place where you get support if you need it, or a push if you need it.”
One of the people management practices that make Pretoria-based Ventso Group feel like family is its caring leadership style.
“Zwanga is the kind of leader who knows what’s going on with his people. If he sees you’re not smiling like you normally do, he will check,” Nomtha says, referring to Zwanga Mabaya, a BCom law student who co-founded Ventso with Luther Mochabe in 2013, when they were both 20 years old and had barely enough money to register the company.
“We all check on each other,” says Zwanga, popping into the conversation briefly before deferring to Nomtha again. “I prefer Nomtha to talk,” he says. “I don’t want to blow my own trumpet and she says it better anyway.”
Nomtha continues talking about what makes Ventso so special in her eyes. “We’re a company of young people – that’s number one – and we have always felt that we can’t move without people, which is why we are always checking in with each other. Everybody’s wellbeing is really important.”
This checking in goes beyond ordinary, day-to-day “how are you doing?” conversations and includes weekly check-in meetings, a formal company meeting once a month and, last but most definitely not least, the annual teambuilding retreat.
Every year (except for 2021 when Covid-19 got in the way), Ventso takes off for a camping weekend. “We go all out – we glamp,” says Nomtha. “From the Thursday to Sunday, we go to another province for team-building and self-building activities to connect as a team and understand each other better.”
This annual retreat is definitely a tradition that Ventso plans to keep no matter how large it becomes, says Nomtha. And it has big plans; very big plans.
But some things will always stay the same.