Date: December 2017
Author: Hermant K Bhimsen
Hena Sugudhav, a young dynamic 34 year old business ex ecutive is standing out head and shoulders in the Financial Management world. Born in Port Shepstone, Hena holds a BCom (Hons) and Higher Diploma in Management Development from UKZN, South Africa amongst other qualifications.
With seven months actively seeking employment of bigger opportunities in the job market, Hena quickly realized that without the necessary experience she would not be able to get a top management-level position. She made the wise decision to get an entry level position and work her way
up the corporate ladder with hard work and time. Her first position, to be her only employment to date, straight out of college, was at Debt-In, a fledgling company where she started as a Collection Agent amongst a staff compliment of just 7 personnel including the directorship.
Within a short few months, Hena proved her worth and was promoted to team leader to all 5 collection agents employed at the organisation . And climbing the corporate ladder was exactly what Hena was doing. Six months thereafter Hena was leading a team of sixteen employees.
At the time, this young company (soon to become a leader in the industry) was sharing another company's premises, which was not ideal for the rapidly expanding organisation. It was in 2009 when the Directorship negotiated a large corporate contract for Debt-In, the business moved to their new offices at Florida Road. Hena was by then leading up a team of 25 staff .
Mark Essey, the CEO of Debt-In readily recognized Hena's invaluable role in the organization. He appropriately promoted Hena to Operations Manager with a vision to exponentially grow the company in leaps and bounds with confidence, knowing he had a reliable, dedi cated and visionary team leader in Hena.
Hena's responsibilities increased with the growth of busi ness and staff compliment. It was no surprise when Hena took on a pivotal role of client liaison and relationship management, managing the relationships between cor porate companies who contracted work to Debt-In. Hena, surpassing company expectations, influenced rapid growth in corporate clientele and grew the staff compliment to mitigate the influx of business . Debt -In was growing ...and growing fast.
Two years later, Debt-In, owing to its unprecedented ex pansion, required bigger offices to house the ever-growing staff-compliment. Moving location again, this time to a larger premises in Westville, Debt-in had in their sights the vision of being an Industry Leader.
Hena, promoted to Operations Director in 2011, meant that she needed to travel extensively and establish direct relationships with Debt-In's Corporate Clientele. For Hena, this step up the corporate ladder was her dream and ambition becoming a reality through her perseverance, determination and hard work coupled with loyalty to her Managing Directors and Debt-In as the organization that made it possible. Hena attributes "genuine loyalty" as the cornerstone to her success.
In her new executive role, in 2012, Hena created a new Debt-In operations model which included the creation and empowerment of staff in key positions such as Team Man agers. Investing such trust and recognizing staff abilities in this way, improved operational efficiencies and business processes. Together with CEO, Mark Essey and Senior Director John Essey, Debt-In grew the human capital of the organisation to a staggering staff compliment of 110 employees . The only problem was that they were running out of office space yet again.
This year saw Debt-In expand with new offices in the Durban CBD at 303 Dr Pixley Kaseme Street, on the 26th floor of Delta Towers, where they currently occupy the entire floor, with capacity to hold 200 agents. Currently Debt-In has more than 160 staff employed with new opportunities rising regularly.
" We are all about growing individuals; recognizing, training and rewarding internally. We support our staff and their families by awarding tertiary and high school bursaries. We sponsor school fees for children of staff and for children externally too, who may have challenges financially. Education is key with Debt-In. The organization invests in education and training of our staff" says Hena.
Hena further elaborates, "the Debt-In drive with woman empowerment is highly prioritized". The initial intention of the organization was to employ whol ly female staff but later relented and recruited male staff too. Currently Debt-In proudly employs 80% women employees.
Hena's success was not without its chal lenges. She found managing people was certainly not easy. However she quickly learned on the job, how to manage and lead people. "Learning to find the balance, I quickly understood that I had to grow internally first. Build good relationships of trust and value. Tolerate yet be firm and decisive", says Hena. Hena's leadership method is to "share knowledge, train, teach and upskil l people" and she elaborates, "disciplinary measures is always the last resort".
Looking back, Hena's highlights in her career path is the recognition, inspiration and encouragement she received from senior Founding Directors, Mark Essey and John Essey. Hena explains, "it feels good to know that you are appreciated, recognized and valued for what you do. Mark and John have been more than employers but role models for my growth and advancement in my career. They are the reason that Debt-In wil l always be my career-home".
Hena is now a Partner at Debt-in. Founding Directors, Mark Essey and John Essey together with Hena's leadership and partnership at Debt-In is to expand into Tele-Sales & Marketing and Customer Service, internationally.
Hena's offers humble advice for the pursuance of excel lence and success, "be tolerant, raise your thoughts and not your voice. Be determined and don't expect a pat on the shoulder for everything you do. Put in the extra effort and never ask, 'what's in it for me'... to the degree you put in, to that degree the returns surely come ... hard work, loyalty, dedication and patience gets you there. Remember, there must be value for the people you serve with and value for greater good in everything you do. That's the recipe for success".
The Debt-In staff compliment includes:
• 4 Partners, Mark Essey (CEO), John Essey, Justin Farry (CFO) and Hena Sugudhav
• 1 Payroll Officer
• 8 Team Managers
• 8 Team Leaders
• 1 Training Manager
• 2 Quality Assurance Consultants
• 1 Data Analyst
• 2 IT Specialists
• 1 Financial Manager
• 1 Financial Clerk
• 140 Collection Agents
Debt-In's service clientele includes:
Telkom, African Bank, Woolworths, Standard Bank, City of Johannesburg, FNB, ABSA and other SME and corporate companies and organisations.