BRIAN Docherty has been the national sales manager - LifeSpace, at Schneider Electric South Africa for three-and-a-half years. Based in Durban, he oversees the countrywide sales of Schneider products.
The life and soul of every party, Brian has a great sense of humour and this, coupled with his boundless energy, has earned him the reputation of being ‘an Energiser bunny'.
His ‘firm but fair' management style along with his vision for the company makes him a worthy personality of the month.
Sparks: Where were you educated?
BD: I matriculated at Welkom High School and then did my N3 to N5 at Welkom College. I later did a marketing management diploma through Damelin.
Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry?
BD: I've been in this industry since 1979 - that's 33 years.
Sparks: When and where did you start your career?
BD: I started in 1979 at President Brand Gold Mine as an apprentice. My first job in sales was in 1986 when I was employed as a sales representative for a company called UCS Electrical.
Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?
BD: Electrical products are becoming more compact and are more directed towards being electronic and IT controlled. We are also seeing additional players entering the market.
Sparks: What major projects have you worked on and what is your greatest accomplishment?
BD: Over the years, I have been involved in numerous projects, including the Lost City, the Steve Biko Academic Hospital and the Fairmont Zimbali Hotel. A recent project involved the new paediatric wing at the King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban.
Sparks: Have you won any awards?
BD: Most of my accomplishments have taken place on the sports field where, amongst others, I have represented South Africa in hockey at both Junior Board and Country Districts level. I still play hockey for Natal Masters.
Sparks: Who has been your inspiration or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?
BD: I am inspired by the people with whom I work every day. One of my mentors was Brian Wadely, my national sales manager at CBI. He instilled in me two things: Good ethics and the understanding of customers. He always said, "We must remember that at the end of the day, the customer pays our salary and without them we would not be here."
Sparks: What, to your mind, is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at this time?
BD: The current global economic environment is a concern. Also, with fewer and fewer apprentices being trained in the industry at the moment, my concern is for the industry, specifically that the quality of workmanship will suffer.
Sparks: What do you enjoy the most about your job?
BD: I enjoy meeting different people and assisting them to finding the right solutions to their electrical problems.
Sparks: How do you motivate your staff?
BD: I lead by example. I never allow my staff to do something that I would not do myself.
Sparks: If you could "do it all again", would you change anything? If so, what would that be?
BD: I would not change anything, as everything that has happened and the people I have met in my life have made me the person I am today.
Sparks: Would you advise a person leaving school to enter the electrical industry? And why?
BD: Yes, I would as there are many opportunities in this industry. I would advise school leavers to specialise in one field because, with technology developing as fast as it is today, you cannot specialise in everything.
Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?
BD: I would advise them to use quality products in order to receive guaranteed after-sales service and technical support. There is a well-known Afrikaans saying which I can use to illustrate why they should use quality products: "Goedkoop is duurkoop" (when you buy cheap, you'll pay dear).
Sparks: What is your favourite quote?
BD: "He who fails to plan, plans to fail." - Anonymous
Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list' (things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket')
BD: Three things on my bucket list are: To fly in a hot air balloon; see the Northern Lights; and to go skiing in the Swiss Alps.