After the looting, Arend Brink and the Hungry Lion IT team achieved the extraordinary

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The head of IT says that he worked as part of the team to get everything back online.

“I don’t see challenges in the IT space. All I see are opportunities. We have the advantage to respond faster and lead business, thanks to the hybrid space we find ourselves in.” That’s according to Arend Brink, head of information technology at Hungry Lion.

When the looting and unrest was taking place in KwaZulu-Natal, Hungry Lion was not spared the damage. Ten of their stores were looted and robbed – leaving a devastating financial and IT impact. For context, the SA Special Risks Insurance Association estimates that the riots cost the country around R50 billion, “the most expensive riot in the world” and equal to South Africa’s annual defence budget.

For Hungry Lion to speedily get back online and running, Arend and his team needed to do the extraordinary.

“We were quite devastated by the July events, but we needed to work together as a team to see through the task at hand. I’m nobody’s boss. I’m part of the team. Sometimes I may not know the answers, meaning that I would rely on someone else with more or unique expertise to take the lead on a project or problem,” says Arend.

This exceptional approach to teamwork was demonstrated when they restored the 10 stores they lost to the looting. They were able to get the stores back online in record time – literally a week and a half.

“Repainting the store and getting the right furniture back inside takes its own time, and getting all the IT equipment was tough, but as a leader, I was able to ensure that I allocated the right people to the right priority projects. Just like any other team, we have our ups and downs, but because of the solid foundation we’ve built, we can withstand any challenge – collectively,” says Arend.

When it comes to his background, Arend was appointed head of IT at Hungry Lion in April 2019. He has a broad range of experience that has seen him work in various IT management roles nationally and multi-nationally from agri-finance, agriculture and tobacco. Arend is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and he has a NQF7 Financial Management diploma from Stellenbosch University.

He says his top achievement so far has been the ability to bridge the divide from where IT is seen as an afterthought, to where it is seen as valuable and as a true asset of the business.

“Mostly IT is being perceived as red taped and risk averse, but that’s not the way to move forward. You must take some risks to be ahead of the curve,” says Arend.

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