Unveiling a Visionary Leader’s Journey from Chartered Accountant to Tech Trailblazer!
In the world of finance, where numbers and spreadsheets often dictate the narrative, Jaco Maritz, a Group Chief Executive Officer at SYSPRO. His story emerges as a testament to the boundless possibilities that await those who dare to break free from the conventional. A Chartered Accountant by qualification, Jaco’s journey has been an unconventional one, characterized by an unyielding passion for technology, innovation, and operational excellence.
While Jaco’s academic background was steeped in finance, his professional trajectory charted a different course—one that would lead him to the dynamic realm of Information Technology. In a career marked by a series of strategic moves and transitions, Jaco seamlessly transitioned from the world of finance to the fast-paced, solutions-driven domain of technology.
Jaco’s attraction to the technology sector is no coincidence. It’s a world characterized by relentless innovation, where creativity and ingenuity are celebrated. His journey has encompassed diverse roles, from pre-sales to operations management, from strategic planning to special assignments. This adaptability and multifaceted approach have been pivotal in his ability to thrive in this ever-evolving landscape.
At the heart of Jaco’s career lies a profound appreciation for the intersection of technology and manufacturing—a synergy that forms the bedrock of many economies. This unique blend of expertise places him in a league of visionary leaders who understand the transformative potential of harnessing technology within the core of manufacturing and distribution processes.
Join us as we uncover the inspiring story of Jaco Maritz, a visionary leader shaping the landscape of technology and innovation!
Could you elaborate on your company and its inception story?
SYSPRO was started in 1978 by Phil Duff (now Executive Chairman) and his brother Chris. They initially developed bespoke software for specific customers but identified a gap in the market for licensed manufacturing, distribution, and accounting software. The software was initially licensed only in South Africa, but over time, various entrepreneurs took the software to markets like the UK, Australia, Asia, Canada, and the USA.
Today, SYSPRO is one of the longest-standing independent global vendors of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. We are operational in over 60 countries and have a proven track record of industry expertise in the manufacturing and distribution sectors. Our ERP software provides the solutions, processes, and tools to assist manufacturers and distributors in managing data and gaining key business insights for informed decision-making to drive sustainable businesses.
As a leader, what do you consider the most crucial factor in driving the success and growth of your company?
I passionately believe that the cornerstone of our company’s success and growth lies in its people, partners, and associates and the ability of the organization to not only deliver to its customers but also to adapt to changes in circumstances. SYSPRO—as an ERP solution provider to specific industries—is an integrated and integral part of the business operations of our customers.
How do you maintain a strong company culture and keep your team motivated and engaged?
We work and live by our values of winning together, integrity, being purposeful, passionate, authentic, and maintaining a growth mindset. It is all a principle of ‘We Are One, and I try to embody a commitment to unity, collaboration, and mutual respect by fostering an environment where every individual feels valued and empowered to contribute their best.
What are the key challenges you’ve faced as CEO, and how did you overcome them?
As a software business, we are exposed to technology changes and innovation, and the industry and customers we serve continuously evolve, so we need to adapt to remain competitive. Any business, large or small, has limited resources, capacity, and capabilities, and it is in directing and deciding on focus areas and priorities that we navigate through these challenges. It takes continuous reassessment of where our markets are going and where we are positioned. As a CEO, this is one of the main challenges, but it also makes it exciting. It is, however, a team effort, and at SYSPRO, we not only have very capable leaders but also incredibly talented employees, partners, and associates.
In what ways has your company embraced innovation and technology to stay ahead in the market?
We continuously invest in the development of our ERP solutions to cater to the specific needs of manufacturers and distributors by incorporating the latest technologies to optimize processes, enhance business visibility, and drive efficiency. Examples include our new Embedded Analytics solution, which is business intelligence built-in within your ERP platform for improved decision-making. As a technology company, we leverage advanced data analytics and AI to empower our clients with actionable insights.
What are your strategies for fostering diversity and inclusion within the organization?
It is first and foremost the commitment of our leadership teams globally; we champion diversity and inclusion, setting the tone for the entire organization to follow suit. It is about providing opportunities for everyone and allowing everyone and anyone to be themselves, realize their potential, feel comfortable, and have confidence while doing it. By encouraging open dialogue and the internal employee groups that we have formed, we also provide safe spaces for employees with shared identities to connect, share experiences, and provide feedback.
What are the long-term goals and vision you have set for your company, and how do you plan to achieve them?
SYSPRO has a rich history and is well-established. We need to build on that history and also construct our future.
- As a technology company, we need to continue innovating and bring new and better solutions to our products, industry, and customers.
- As an international business, we need to continue developing our markets across the world and enter new markets when it is the right time.
- As a company, we need to give back to our communities and our stakeholders.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your company, and what measures have you implemented to navigate through it?
The pandemic prompted us to swiftly adapt as a business. Our remote work setup ensured uninterrupted support for our clients. Virtual collaboration tools kept teams connected, sustaining innovation. Customer-centricity remained paramount, with rapid responses to evolving needs. We enhanced online resources, offered flexible solutions, and provided guidance for businesses navigating uncertainties. The pandemic accelerated digital transformation, reaffirming our commitment to innovation.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs venturing into the same sector?
Our industry is where young entrepreneurs and employees can show the industry how it is done because they are willing to leave pre-conceived ideas and established practices at the door, think differently, and push the boundaries. My advice would be to keep that attitude, trust your instincts and abilities, and work hard.