Yackov Dar | Managing Director | Power-C Metering Africa
Who were your role models during the pivotal stages of your life?
I don’t have one role model that I can pinpoint but rather it is a combination of mentors/people that I have met over time. I have experienced an evolvement over the years, where my role models have changed in each period of my life; and they have imparted their knowledge and helped to shape me into the individual that I am today.
What do you think makes a successful leader?
If you are loyal to what you are trying to achieve and can inspire and motivate the people around you, this makes a successful leader. It’s a combination of two things: being loyal and being able to recruit the right people to be around you, people who would also inspire you.
What are your greatest strengths?
I am able to have a good vision and understanding about future trends. The second thing is to be active and to do something about it – there is a difference between having a vision and putting that vision into practice.
What are your greatest blind spots and how are you improving these?
I like being in control and this relates to everything in terms of knowing even the simplest detail of what is happening within my company as far as our technology is concerned. Success is hidden in the details; however, wanting this level of detail is time and energy consuming. From time-to-time it is good to be above ground and to focus on the strategy, which is something that I am trying to balance and improve on – details and blue sky thinking.
What is the one thing in your opinion that people commonly misconceive about your character?
They think that I am too clever, which in many cases I am not [laughs]. They think that everything came to me easily, which is also not correct, and this is the misconception. Success in life follows hard work, long hours and investment.
What tips do you have for keeping a team motivated?
It relates to the spirit of the organisation – it’s okay to fail but the most important thing is to learn from your defeat otherwise you are going to fail again. I am a very logical guy but I also have emotions, I allow myself and my team to make mistakes and then we identify and analyse them to learn from it.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?
The single biggest risk was when I immigrated to the US to finalise my master’s degree, I was married and had two twin girls aged five. We had no money since I had used all my savings towards my education – I thank God for my wife because she was so supportive. After starting up a company that was successful after three years, I was able to repay my wife by allowing her to follow her dream and pursue her studies and a new career in computer science. The second risk was starting up my current company, which received negative commentary from people who said we wouldn’t make it in an already established market with giant companies. We went against the odds and we have managed to break through into the market.
When considering partnering with another person or business, what factors are deal-breakers for you?
Integrity, transparency and reliability – it’s as simple as that.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
For us in the new era, we are jumping into smartphones and there are a lot of disturbances so I have found it difficult for me to read. I’m finding the best time to read is during flights. The one which I am still reading is about 640 pages. It’s the book Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson.
What are you most proud of in your professional career?
I am proud of having employees that are part of the company’s success. I am also very proud that we have a good team that feels like a real family, which I am able to motivate to enjoy what they do.
Which of your leadership skills were the most difficult to develop?
Life is an evolving thing; nobody is perfect. Skills are based on experience … you do something wrong today and tomorrow you learn from it.
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how has it proven invaluable?
I have learned that a collaborative leadership approach blends concern for people in the team – together with a well-organised and communicated focus on setting priorities to achieve the vision – with plenty of consultation, encouraging advice and suggestions from the team. This has proven invaluable in more creative problem solving and innovation, as well as fostering a work environment and company culture where each and every employee enjoys coming to work every day. This has also contributed to our ability to attract and retain high performing employees, as one of our key success factors.
How do you achieve balance in your life?
After spending 4 to 5 years building a very good team, I was able to offload 90% of my workload. I can be anywhere at any time and no one would even know I was gone [laughs]. I have established clear guidelines that my company follows even when I am not there, which gives me a lot of ‘free time’ to spend with my family. Everything is in the mind: when you decide what is important in life you will make it all work together.
What trend in the global energy space do you see becoming intrinsic to the overall power network, and what trend will remain a trend only?
Having spent twelve years in telecommunications and components, it is clear that we cannot talk of the world as one space with one characteristic, as there are so many changes within various parts of the world. If you are looking at developed countries in the smart grid and smart metering sector, e.g. Europe, US and parts of Australia, you will find that their needs are totally different to developing economies or the rest of the world such as Asia, the South East and Africa.
I think the sector will require technology providers who integrate various grid capabilities into a holistic solution. This a trend that will stay forever. However, in Africa, companies will just say they want smart meters or smart grids but how will they address connectivity, how will they monitor losses?
There are so many unanswered questions, which means the smart metering trends will just disappear. The reason why big smart grid firms are not in Africa is because of how projects are designed and operated. They are simply providing the sector with what they want. For instance, supplying only a transformer, which then presents opportunities for small to medium companies like ours to be present in the region and provide integrated solutions.