Paul Eveleigh, group general manager at Hiconnex, was born in the UK but grew up in South Africa, matriculating from Springs Boys High School. With an interest in technology, his initial career path choice was to obtain a qualification in Process Control Engineering. However, in his early twenties, a decision to change paths into a sales and marketing direction was taken, with Paul ultimately obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing management. The strong background in technology, combined with his commercial qualifications and experience, has benefitted his personal career growth.
After graduating, Paul rose through various positions from an initial technical role to sales and marketing functions, export business development, and sales management to his current position of general manager. Being well travelled to over 40 countries, the overriding lesson he learned is that people seek mutual respect more than any other trait, and this is exactly how he conducts business.
After more than 20 years in the sector, Paul has realised that for a business to succeed during the market ups and downs requires it to be diverse in its offerings. This can allow a company to pull through during a particular sector’s downturn, while focussing on building service levels and retaining loyal customers.
During his various roles in his career, Paul always looked for opportunities to grow in both his business and personal capacity, and this is what Hiconnex offers. Before joining Hiconnex, he worked for various competitor companies, and always held a healthy respect for the way in which the company conducted business. Hiconnex, however, offers him the chance to share in growing the company into new markets. With a strong and experienced team behind him, he can put into practice what he has learned during his career, and ultimately grow the company towards its strategic objectives.
Says Paul: “Hiconnex is fortunate to be participating in new markets such as space, unmanned systems, alternative energy, and IoT. These sectors offer new and exciting growth opportunities for a company with Hiconnex’s product depth.”
He goes on to explain that the increased ability to use technology to reach new customers and collaborate on international projects has provided Hiconnex with a completely new set of customers.
“Operating internationally has been part of my life for 25 years, only now I don’t always have to get on an aeroplane to have a face-to-face discussion,” he continues. “While being in the same room as our customers and suppliers remains the best way to build relationships, the COVID pandemic showed us that we can interact in different and creative ways.”
He believes that South Africa has a unique set of obstacles, the main one being the lack of government initiatives to drive an industry that already contains a high level of thought leaders. The development of industry sectors should be through government-driven initiatives. He offers the following example: “Consider the amount of commercial aerospace contract manufacturers in Morocco – driven by government policy to build a significant contract manufacturing base now fully utilised by key commercial aerospace manufacturers. The SA can-do attitude is hard to match anywhere in the world and we should be telling our story to a larger audience.”
Advice for the younger generation
When asked about advice for the younger generation, he remarks that while qualifications are vital, so too is the knowledge gained from working experience. He believes that business and financial aspects need to be concentrated on as these are often the driving factor towards project success.
When not at work, he can be found relaxing at home with his wife and active teenage twins, or on the road eating up the kilometres on his bicycle.
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