In this series, we celebrate the employees that make Grindrod Bank a success. Through the stories of our people you will come to know us, a company that values diversity, encourages inclusivity, and above all inspires individuals and teams to succeed. This is Gareth’s story.

 

Our Chief Operating Officer (COO), Gareth Jasson, shares what a typical day at work entails and what inspires him to always be at his best:

“Our days are never the same, each day brings  new opportunities and challenges, one can never know what to expect. But that is what makes it exciting. Most days I spend my time in meetings, either with my internal team or with stakeholders to ensure that our operational functions are  intact. After all the meetings, we work on strategy documents, presentations, and legal documents. My role is to ensure that I inspire confidence in my team so that they produce the best work for the bank.

There are a couple of clichés that I live my life by.  The first is one from my mother – “There is no problem that is so big that you cannot overcome it!”.  The second is the classic – “Finish what you start!”.  The third is solid – “If you are going to do something, do it well!”.  The last one is – “Judge me by my actions and not by my words”.

This should give you a good idea of my worldview and how I approach any work situation.  You have to give it your best because what you give, is how you are judged.”

 

The people that Gareth considers as heroes in the industry are:

  • Alex Harding – who taught me how to lead people and not manage them.
  • Kevin McKenna – who inspired me to be a COO by leading by example.
  • Kevin Brady – who taught me how to get people to buy into who I am.
  • Rakesh Garach – who taught me how to deal with adversity.
  • Dirk Reynecke – who taught me the difference between a player and a referee.
  • Muneer Ismail – who taught me how to inspire and navigate through a corporate environment.

 

If Gareth was not the COO of Grindrod Bank, this is what he would be doing:

“I would probably be teaching scuba diving to tourists on some tropical beach somewhere.  Despite the fact that I get easily seasick. Teaching scuba diving is a passion that kind of snuck up on me – so I could see myself as that old, grizzly guy teaching the little grasshoppers how to put their heads under the water.”

 

In the workplace, the topic of gender equality is an important and relevant one. This is the advice Gareth would share with the industry at large on the topic: 

“I sometimes think that we have too much of an overt focus on the gender issue.  As a leader, you need to create an environment that is inclusive and where anyone can prosper, and I feel that the focus on gender issues makes people behave in ways that are not always natural.  Where a person shows leadership – this must be encouraged.  I sometimes feel that we are so focussed on trying to promote gender parity that we push the wrong people– hence some of the lack of success at the leadership level from a gender perspective.

Having said this, I am the only man in my Operations Management Team.  The environment is thus very conducive to the development of women leaders and it is something that I definitely encourage.”

 

If Gareth could advise organisations on how to keep employees loyal and happy, this is what he would say:

“There is a saying – “People leave managers – not jobs.”.  There is also a misconception that more money makes people happy.  There are  many issues that go into answering that very simple question.  I believe that employees will stay with an organisation if they are “happy” – whatever that means for the individual.  Your job as a leader is to figure out what makes the members of your team happy and then to make sure that you can deliver on that.  While some employees may think that happy means working 1 day a week and getting paid for 5, that is not what I mean.  When your team is happy, they will deliver the best results..”

 

Dealing with stress can be an ongoing challenge people try and master. Gareth shares his views on coping with stress and maintaining a work-life balance:

“I am a gaming enthusiast. For an older guy – I game a lot, be it on hand-held platform games or PC based games.  My favourite game, now remains Dota 2 and on hand-held it is Raid: Shadow Legends.  I find that losing yourself in a game for a little bit and competing against other players online, not only releases the stress but, also brings back perspective.  Losing against a 13-year-old child makes sure that you are humble. I also play basketball and I am very involved with basketball administration.

When it comes to maintaining a work-life balance, I believe we must  set boundaries and make sure you keep to them.  Easy to say but very hard to do.  Because I work and play on the same devices – this is not always feasible but looking at an email quickly while you re-spawn is not the end of the world – most of the time.  When you are spending time with your family, commit and be present.  Put the devices down and spend time with them.”

Gareth’s positive outlook on life is nothing short of infectious and inspirational! We thank Gareth for being an inspiration to us all.