Khangi Khoza studied Economics and after working in banking became the economic advisor to the Swiss Embassy covering 6 African countries. She then joined Swissport South Africa in June 2021 where she is responsible for the operations and growth of Swissport South Africa – leading provider of airport ground services and air cargo handling, based on revenue and number of airports served. We spoke to Khangi about leadership, data and the importance of data for a company:
What did you learn in your time as an economic advisor to the Embassy of Switzerland that you’ve been able to apply to your current role?
At the Embassy I dealt with economic issues but also regulatory matters affecting Swiss companies. Multinationals contribute a significant amount of foreign direct investment and leveraging that as a country is crucial for the transfer of skills and particularly technical knowledge and innovation.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
The jump into a new industry was a steep learning curve for me and also having joined at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic was incredibly challenging. I think we have transitioned quite strongly as a business however, and I am very happy to start reaping those benefits. There is still a long way to go in terms of all the initiatives we have planned in all our business divisions, but we definitely have turned a corner and have a new energy running through the business as a result of the challenges.
How can research contribute to the success of a business?
Data and research are incredibly important and lead to informed decision-making. You have to encourage data rich decisions and as a business you have to instill a culture of learning. But data and research have to be applied so adaptability is just as important. Swissport is a data rich organisation and we have not even scraped the surface with all the wonderful plans we have to use that data to innovate the business.
What kind of effect did the pandemic have on the aviation sector and how has it adapted?
It had a profound impact, if people aren’t traveling and airlines aren’t flying it impacts service providers such as ourselves significantly. The public health policy challenges such as vaccinations and PCR testing have changed the way people travel.
What are the keys to negotiation?
It is important to establish what the other party’s interests are as soon as possible. It really focuses the discussion if you know what the various interests are.
What interpersonal skills do business leaders need?
Self-knowledge and reflection. It is important to have great vision, but if you can’t take people along for the journey then you are not leading.