Infinity Brands' Luandre Julius: Journey from insurance broker to dynamic IT support manager

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About a decade ago, Luandre Julius started his working career, but it was far from his current role of an IT support manager, as he worked in insurance as a broker.

Luandre Julius has had an interesting career, moving from insurance broker, an industry in which he may have stayed were it not for a passion for learning more about IT, to a support agent at Afrihost, and then to his current role as IT Support Manager at Infinity Brands, franchising management specialists, in May 2023.

In his current role, Luandre is responsible for IT aspects such as CRM, ERP, networks, devices, and other IT-related features that help franchisees – new and old – get connected to the ecosystem.

Infinity Brands assists companies when they are looking to expand their existing businesses and grow or further develop a store footprint. It lends its expertise and wealth of experience to managing an existing business, should a business owner wish to convert to a franchise under its umbrella.

Infinity Brands enables outlets to move over to the new franchisee without hassle as it uses an ERP system, allowing the process to be automated as well as a quick connection with a third-party on the ground that instals all the physical requirements, such as cables.

Should there be an issue, such as the switch being opened late, Luandre’s team steps in to assist.

From his home in the Northern Cape, 30km outside of Kimberly, Luandre moved to Johannesburg to join his family straight after matric. “In these rural areas, we didn’t have access to technology classes. The only time we had access to computers was when we went into the teachers’ lounge.”

After moving to Johannesburg, Luandre learned as much as he could, and bought a Pentium 4, loaded with Windows 7, which lasted him from 2007 to 2018. At the same time, music is also a big passion and – at one point – he was part of a group that mixed tunes.

“I have always been a curious person. I want to know what happens with websites, for instance,” says Luandre. He started learning about the backends of websites and grew his knowledge, learning about hardware as well as software, APNs, networking, server troubleshooting and other aspects of the IT industry. “I learned a whole lot.”

Just after moving to Infinity Brands, Luandre was thrown in the deep end when the entire IT system was changed, and the company needed to migrate to Zoho One from Google. Needing to roll out the entire project led to many meetings with his CTO. “It wasn’t a difficult process, but it needed a lot of work. I had to do quite some research and learn additional skills,” says the gentleman who has never stopped learning.

Zoho One is a complete cloud software solution that fully automates business processes as well as managing customer support tickets, among other benefits.  Luandre notes the brands are currently being moved to platforms of their choice. Luandre adds that everybody being supportive from the supplier side made the move easier.

He reports to CTO Nkululeko Nxumalo, with whom he says has a good relationship. “I have never seen him get angry at anybody; raise his voice. Obviously, people get frustrated, but he doesn't show this. He is the type of guy that will literally sit there and listen to you and what you are trying to tell him, so we can all solve whatever challenge we may be dealing with.”

One of the most important things that Luandre has learnt from Nkululeko is to leave his work at the door when he goes home. It’s a work hard, play hard situation in real life, with a definite balance. Nkululeko is also a big collaborator, he says, who will ask people to do some research and then bring a solution to the table so it can be debated and discussed. “It speaks volumes, because when you are frustrated, you want an ear, and he is exactly that.”

This, says Luandre, requires a certain set of soft skills, which is something he is learning from his CTO. “It’s definitely something that I would love to adapt to.”

But the relationship works both ways, with Luandre determined to help Nkululeko improve his golf handicap. Golf, Luandre says, is a way of growing personally, because it humbles people: there will always be times when your game is off. “If you hit a bad shot, relax yourself ahead of your next shot, so you can be refreshed.”

At the same time, golf provides a chance to switch off and not focus on work, even if it’s a four-ball hosted by Infinity Brands.

In 2024, Luandre is looking forward to new technology – especially in the artificial intelligence space. Especially as Zoho has integrated this hot technology. “When you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your life,” he concludes.

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