Vuyokazi Bangazi has been appointed national sales manager for Toyota Industrial Equipment, a division of the material handling and industrial equipment supplier, EIE Group. Her appointment forms part of the company’s strategy to inject new energy into the business and pay even greater attention to sales.
The role, which has been vacant for the past 18 months, will see Bangazi promote customer-centricity at every level of the business – from receptionists and technicians to senior managers and the executive team. Customer-centricity will ensure the Toyota brand remains the market leader in the industry and the business meets the targets set by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in Japan and Sweden.
As the former general manager of the Toyota Business Unit in the Eastern Cape, Bangazi has earned her stripes at the coalface and brings a wealth of sales and leadership skills to her new role.
She says her new role means making sure the business gets to the market as quickly as possible with its products. “It also means capturing 40% of the market (we want to be streaks ahead of our competitors), promoting innovative thinking, making sure our customers always choose the Toyota Industrial Equipment brand and fostering excellent relationships with our OEMs – without whom we would not be able to offer such incredible products in the market.”
On taking on the role, Bangazi says a great leader inspires and shows the path, but does not dictate. “I’ve always adopted an open-door policy when leading teams. I believe it is important to listen, collaborate and elevate. After all, human capital is any business’s greatest asset.”
In this respect, Bangazi is a firm believer that “culture eats strategy for breakfast any day”. “If the culture of the business is not right, no amount of strategising will save the day. For me, it is important to lead from behind, not the front. This is with the understanding that every employee is a multi-layered human being with his or her own hopes, dreams and aspirations,” she says.
And she understands dreams and aspirations well. “When I was a young girl, one of my aspirations was to become a pilot. Of course, I was young and impatient and I thought the process would take too long. And, of course, back in those days, money was an issue – so I felt compelled to complete my studies as quickly as possible.”
She joined EIE Group after graduating from the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University) with a BCom in accounting in 2002. After a short stint at EIE Group in the Eastern Cape, she was transferred to the business’s head office in Johannesburg in 2005 as an administrator in the rental division. In 2007, she was transferred back to Port Elizabeth as rental manager for the region and was promoted to assistant general manager in 2014 and general manager in 2016.
For the foreseeable future, Bangazi will focus her efforts on growing the Toyota Industrial Equipment brand, positioning the business as an employer of choice and ensuring customers are 100% satisfied with its offerings. “We will measure for customer-centricity via the Customer Service Index (CSI). If we are score above 95%, we will know that we are doing a phenomenal job with our customers from an operations and sales point of view.”
She says setting goals is the first step towards turning the invisible into the visible. “My short-term goal for myself is to make sure I do my job perfectly over the next six months. I want to ensure the business remains relevant, that all stakeholders – OEMs, suppliers, customers, employees – are happy, and I want to bring solutions to challenges as quickly as possible to facilitate smooth sailing.
“I will know that I have been successful if the business achieves its OEM targets, if our brand is well-positioned in the market, if the most talented people want to work for us and if we are award-winning in our own space,” she concludes.