Putting leadership first: Yunus Scheepers, CTO of Silverbridge

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He spends more time listening to what people are struggling with rather than making assumptions

“You can’t build a successful company if your customers are not successful. Everything you do for your customers should be aimed at making them more successful. If not, you need to question why you do it,” says Yunus Scheepers, the CTO of Silverbridge Holdings Ltd, a software development company.

Yunus prefers to focus on the people side of technology and enjoys encouraging those around him. His leadership style is built on getting to know people and engaging them on a human level as he believes that who they are in their private lives affects who they are at work; and vice versa.

“My background in I.T. helps me have productive conversations with technical specialists, even though I may not know the technology being discussed, as well as they do,” he says.

Transitioning to working from home when the lockdown hit was relatively smooth as he had managed to establish strong working relationships with the people he works with directly and those he depends on. And as he says, “People in I.T. are generally quite introverted and like the idea of working remotely”.

One of the major advantages of this way of working is that it has made problem-solving quicker. “Unlike physical meetings, experts can be brought into virtual conversations very easily, as and when needed,” he says.

One of his driving principles is to treat his team respectfully and fairly, as peers, and engage them as the adults they are, which he believes makes it more likely for them to want to stay.

“Retaining talent is hard because skilled technical people are in high demand. However, retaining talent at all costs is also not the answer. If it’s obvious that someone is not going to achieve their career aspirations with you, then it is your duty as a leader, to them and your company, to help them explore their options; even if it means that they move on. It is equally important to celebrate with them when they find something more suited to their objective and assist them in their transition,” he says.

As part of creating a workplace that encourages mental health, Yunus has seen the benefits of maintaining a routine and not overwhelming people with meetings. “In our team, we have two meetings. One is the daily, morning stand-up, and then, once a month, we have a team meeting. That’s enough for us to manage what we need to. Other meetings are already happening in the business that cover other business activities … so why duplicate them,” he says.

As much as he works in a technical environment, he describes his career highlight as follows: “I am most proud of helping people, who were effectively written off by the rest of the organisation, become stars in the company,” says Yunus. He does this by spending more time listening to what people are struggling with rather than making assumptions. He has also led the move of the company’s entire On-prem I.T. infrastructure, to Azure which just so happened to be completed in the month before lockdown started.

The On-prem domain controller was also recently decommissioned and now they only have network equipment in their data centre. “Anyone who has ever attempted to do this will understand the significance of the achievement,” he says

One of his current projects involves working on a seamless hybrid experience to ensure that everyone, irrespective of whether they’re working at home or at the office, have the same level of engagement with company activities while the corporate environment adjusts to the new normal.

His message to everyone entering the tech world is, “Be confident in your knowledge. Nobody knows everything”.

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