Gerald Kitchen of Secure Trading takes the Finextra Q&A
Name: Gerald Kitchen
Date and place of birth: Zimbabwe
Marital status: Married
Career path: Technology, financial services industry and senior management in the financial services industry.
Current posts: Chief Executive of SecureTrading
What was your first job?
A computer operator in a governmental institution in South Africa
Who is or was your mentor?
The COO of Nedbank in South Africa – Mike Leeming and Gail Kelly the CEO of Wespac in Australia
Which business leaders do you most admire?
Those with a real feel for the cultural side of organisations and that component which makes them really tick. Commercially and operationally it is relatively easy to adjust and refine business models continuously. However, those companies who can get the culture right will be sustainable and flourish. In all honesty, a man who stands out in my mind is Nelson Mandela. Almost single handedly he managed South Africa through a potentially perilous time by being aware and in touch with the huge diversity of expectation of the various stakeholders and communities in South Africa as it transitioned from a period of apartheid and isolation to that of a democracy.
If you weren’t in your current job, which company would you most like to lead?
I would most like to run a company which is determined to undergo both strategic and operational transformation. Right now it is hard to choose one as the state of the market has created an inevitable amount of turmoil which is resulting in many short term and exaggerated decisions having to be taken to survive never mind flourish. Having said that I am a huge fan of Nike.
Do you read books on management theory? If, so which has influenced you the most?
I have read many such books. They have all had little gems and good ideas from which I have drawn insight and inspiration. The one which really sticks out most in my mind is “Built to last” by Collins and Porras.
Which competitors do you benchmark your company’s performance against?
Many companies are involved in the online payment world. These include mobile companies, retailers and banks. I try and watch a sub set of them and establish what they are doing right and wrong.
What has been your best experience in business?
Leading a company wide business transformation at Barclaycard Business whereby we were able to mobilise and energise a couple of thousand people to deliver superior company performance.
What was your biggest mistake in business?
I have and will continue to make many mistakes. My biggest mistake was not insisting on completing a technology platform conversion because the cost and timings were drastically over running. I took a decision in the interests of short term gain but the long term pain remained.
What keeps you awake at night?
Am I leading the company in the right direction
How do you relax?
I am an avid sports fan – participating and watching. I have run over 100 marathons and find the time alone on the road allows me to unwind and free myself of the day to day distractions of running an organisation.
What was the last gadget you bought?
I don’t really do gadgets
Favourite Web site
SecureTrading – if it was not I should not be running this company
Desert island disc/book
I will never tire of watching the Shawshank Redemption