Claudine Ebrahim, Regional Operations Manager, Northern Region
At the age of 19, Ebrahim joined Avis Rent a Car Group and has since worked her way through the ranks. In her current role, she is responsible for managing car-rental operations for the Northern Region of South Africa, including Tshwane, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Swaziland, a region with 22 branches, a staff complement of 133 and a fleet of around 2 600 vehicles. The region contributes a 12-month revenue of about R287-million. Some of the major accomplishments within her region include the achievement of a 90% average for customer-service standards over three months. “We continually strive to exceed our customers’ expectations at every interface. In addition, corporate social investment (CSI) is one of our key focus areas. The Northern Region has also submitted a tender for the Rental Kiosk at the new international airport in Sekhupe in Swaziland and we look forward to the anticipated growth it will bring,” says Ebrahim.In 2009, Ebrahim had the privilege of being nominated to attend the Barloworld Leadership Development Programme that runs once a year for managers from various departments within the global Barloworld Group.
Ebrahim’s leadership style is a dynamic, adaptable and entrepreneurial one. “On our road to success, my team will understand how its work fits into us achieving our goal,” says Ebrahim. She believes that it is key that she adapts her leadership approach to the individual concerned. “I think I learnt very early on that not everyone is the same, and therefore my management of each individual should not be the same either,” she concludes. Ebrahim draws her inspiration from many different people and things, mostly her family and the executive leadership team at Avis Rent a Car. She is married to Nadim Ebrahim and they have two beautiful sons, Zach aged seven and Kael aged three, and she is currently expecting another ‘bundle of joy’. Ebrahim is still working towards reaching a level of personal mastery as Regional Operations Manager, something that she considers will be her biggest accomplishment at Avis.
Doreen Lupton, Human Resources Executive
Lupton oversees the Human Resources (HR) Function for the entire Group. Key to this role is the alignment of the human resources strategy to the overall business strategy. This is achieved through focused attraction, engagement, development, management and retention of Avis’s most precious resource – people. During her tenure at Avis, Lupton has successfully applied the Avis ethos: ‘People are more important than cars’. She has been at the forefront in ensuring that Avis invests in its own staff through resources, employee benefits, wellbeing programmes, training and recognition. “Avis has constantly focused on the development of its Ambassadors, concentrating on training and a number of other actions that truly demonstrate to its people that their interests, growth and wellbeing are prized by the company,” she says. In 2012, graduates were recruited for the Management Development Programme in Operations. The programme consists of a 90% transformation profile, and has enjoyed a 90% retention rate. Of the candidates, 90% have successfully transitioned off the programme into management positions within the business. The objective of this programme is to fast-track high-potential candidates into the business by equipping them with leadership, management, technical, business and interpersonal skills.
A coaching and mentorship programme was launched in the business to equip managers with key skills and techniques to better manage and lead the business. Key strengths of this programme are the effective pairing of mentors and mentees and the depth and strength of the conversations. A supervisor development programme has also been launched, focusing specifically on upskilling and empowering supervisors within the business. The Human Resources Department is also in the process of launching the Women in Leadership Programme to address some of the specific challenges that women face. “The leadership profile at Avis defines the leadership standards that our leaders are held accountable to. These standards are integrated into many HR processes, but, most importantly, they support the Avis culture and the Avis DNA,” concludes Lupton.
Jessica Branco, National Learning and Development Manager at Avis Rent a Car
Branco’s role sees her and her team driving and promoting knowledge and skills and transferring these to the Avis Brand Ambassadors in order to cover strategic focus areas. “Training is an integral part of our business. Therefore, we provide accredited training programmes designed to equip our people with the necessary skills to do their jobs to the best of their ability,” says Branco. At Avis, there is a strong focus on upskilling the Brand Ambassadors by placing them in accredited learnerships, something that has been very successful to date. Between 2009 and 2013, a total of 401 learners were on learnerships ranging from Call Centre, to National Qualifications Framework (NQF) 3 Business Administration, to NQF 4 Management and Customer Service, and to NQF 5 Management, resulting in formal qualifications being awarded to these learners. To date, an investment in excess of R5-million has been made in these learnerships, and this method of upskilling employees will continue to grow Avis employees.
Avis encourages its employees to grow themselves both professionally and personally. Employees are exposed to various aspects of the business in order to gain a holistic understanding of the business. All employees are encouraged to participate in leadership development programmes. With development opportunities abounding, this is one of the reasons why Avis attracts and retains a remarkable calibre of employees whose collective drive, passion and commitment have catapulted the company to its pre-eminence in the market. During her time at Avis, Branco has been part of the Sustainability Team that set up the Avis Sustainability Strategy and has worked towards achieving Avis’s carbon-neutral status, something that she regards as one of her greatest accomplishments. Branco firmly believes in practising what she preaches, and in working with her team and achieving results through it. “Our people are our greatest assets, and their development and growth are the Learning and Development Team’s main objectives,” she concludes.
AVIS: Investing in People
For the fourth consecutive year, Avis Rent a Car has received a Level 2 BBBEE contributor rating, attesting to its status as leader in the car rental industry in South Africa whilst embracing the broad-based approach.
Paving the Way
Globally, the history of Avis is steeped in a tradition of innovation and compelling ideas, all introduced to cater for specific customer needs. The first attempt to link car rental with airline travel was made by Warren E Avis, a Ford dealer from Detroit who opened America’s first car-rental counter at Willow Run Airport in December 1946. The counter was called Avis Airline Rent a Car System.
In 1967, Zeda Car Rental and Tours (Pty) Ltd was established in Bloemfontein. Shortly thereafter, Federale Volksbeleggings Bpk, a division of Sanlam, acquired a majority shareholding in the company. Then, Federale went into a joint venture with Avis Rent A Car Systems Incorporated. On 1 April 2004, Barloworld Limited acquired full ownership of Avis Southern Africa. This is but a very brief history of what is recognised as a leading brand in car rental worldwide. CEO magazine profiled three leading women of the Avis Southern Africa Group.
CASE IN POINT | AVIS
by Shalane van Rensburg