Smooth global operator
Driven by customer service, with a passion for technological innovation, Gert Pretorius – MD of Africa Fleet Solutions and head of global operations at MiX Telematics – gives BLAIR BURMEISTER some insights into his climb to the top.
Gert Pretorius has actually had two climbs to the top. He was fully immersed in the financial game before joining the fleet management industry. He worked in several financial positions before making the big move to where his current passion now lies – fleet management. He has taken on his career journey with a dedicated work ethic in hand.
Pretorius grew up in the small wool and cattle-farming town of Rouxville in the Free State, completing his education with a BCom Accounting at the Free State University. He ended up in various financial positions, and these opportunities drew him closer to the city of Johannesburg and the prospects it held.
Things changed for Pretorius in 1998 as his career path carried him in a different direction – fleet management. Unbeknownst to him at the time, this career would prove to feed his enthusiasm and success. He worked in numerous senior executive positions at distinguished fleet management companies such as Super Group and Daimler. He also found himself in a similar position but in the security industry at Coin Security Group.
Pretorius tells FOCUS that it is the constant reinvention of the industry that attracts him to his work. “It is innovative, service-driven, and every day is different, bringing new challenges to overcome and obstacles to climb. The world and our industry are constantly moving. I welcome the challenge and accommodate the change.”
His experience in fleet management made him ideal for the next opportunity to present itself – operations manager at MiX Telematics. He was appointed to that position in 2006; it was the start of a loyal and fruitful relationship with the company. He then filled the position of hosting and operations executive, and in 2008 was appointed MD of MiX Telematics Enterprise.
“I wanted to join a company that was at the forefront of the vehicle tracking and fleet management industry,” he says. “I felt the company was providing exciting technology, and this is the type of culture that moves me.”
His passion for vehicle tracking and fleet management solutions led to him being offered the position of chief operating officer for MiX Africa in 2010. At the beginning of 2012, Pretorius was named MD of MiX Telematics (Africa Fleet Solutions) – this was a big move up.
“In a nutshell, this means that I have to run global operations efficiently, which is essentially about applying the processes from South Africa to operations around the world,” he explains. As MD, Pretorius holds the responsibility for MiX fleet management business in Africa, including South Africa (all co-ordinated from Midrand).
Operating globally has been a constant goal for Pretorius. A highlight of his career has been building up the “Bureau Service” for MiX Telematics South Africa. The success of the project saw it going international. “Basically, we provide a service to our clients where we manage the collection and processing of data from onboard computers installed inside their vehicles,” he says. “We then make this useful information available to our clients using software and mobile applications, coupled to comprehensive fleet consulting.”
He adds: “It has been a proud moment to get South African customers with fleets of 10 000 vehicles or more on board. Hard work has brought me to where I am today, but it also takes dedication, vision and support from a great team.”
Pretorius says he has been blessed to work with colleagues who have influenced him positively with their team spirit. “My colleagues are strong leaders and they know how to draw on the strengths from those around them. They operate with an entrepreneurial mindset and are dedicated to the core of our business.”
Customer service is another engine driver at MiX, and Pretorius says he is passionate about delivering service to customers that exceeds their expectations. “I am delighted to be part of a company that values and nurtures its relationships with customers and partners,” he says. “It’s incredibly rewarding and beneficial to have happy and satisfied customers. We really do cherish the strong and trusting relationships we have with our clients.”
When asked about this year’s highlights, Pretorius refers to the solid financial performance MiX Telematics has delivered. “Reaching the one billion revenue mark for the first time is a fantastic milestone for us. Our top-line growth continues to accelerate, and in South Africa, for example, we have successfully extended our contract with Eskom which has sparked the initiation of several exciting future projects,” he says. “I am excited about what the future holds for me and the company.”