Gary Muizenheimer, the newly appointed Director: Operations at SUNCOM, comes with experience in multiple industries and has many stories to tell from his career. From heading up a commercial division for South Africa's biggest soccer club Kaizer Chiefs FC to pioneering the incubation of strategic and innovative products and services at the University of South Africa (UNISA), while raising three young children with his wife.
Gary joined SUNCOM at the beginning of September 2022 to join the strong leadership team of SUNCOM under Hein Swanepoel, Senior Director: SUNCOM.
"I have had the luxury of working in many startups," says Gary. "It gives you a broad understanding of business. The past fifteen years equipped me with valuable commercial insights, from appreciating the role of the basic administrators to the one of an engineer or human resources practitioner. And, as startups are traditionally under resourced, you have to make magic with what you have in your hands at a specific moment in time."
He talks passionately about his role at Kaizer Chiefs, a club with immense brand value and legacy. "Kaizer Chiefs is more than a soccer club, it is a robust business operation that will impact many generations to come, and I've had the opportunity to learn and grow there.” Gary had the privilege to work with the Motaung family including the chairman, Mr Kaizer Motaung, the founder himself. A chance he will cherish for the rest of his life.
"I've always enjoyed the stories and lessons of pioneers: those amazing people who paved the way for us."
It was bittersweet leaving Kaizer Chiefs, but he saw meaningful value in taking up a new challenge, by establishing a startup which serviced the financial industry by connecting beneficiaries to their unclaimed benefits. From here, he went on to help establish UNISA Enterprise, UNISA’s commercial arm. Over the three years he was there, they generated significant revenues and the Enterprise is on track to contribute to the financial sustainability of UNISA.
Gary says his goal is to add value to the commercial endeavours of SU and help create a sustainable university, which ultimately benefits the students and impacts the future of South Africa. "I came back home and am now part of something I was dreaming of for UNISA Enterprise."
Gary says when he saw the position, he knew this was worth fighting for. "I have been preparing myself for a job like this and I understand what it takes to walk alongside someone and learn from them. I hope to learn as much from Hein as I possibly could."
"I had the privilege to meet Anita Nel, Chief Director: Innovation and Commercialisation, while I was still at UNISA," says Gary. "She was a huge support to me and often took time out of her busy schedule to address my board and help me convince them of value propositions."
Gary's profile reads, "results-driven, highly focused, commercially savvy with good knowledge of the South African business environment, with a keen interest in technology advancements that can be applied in developing countries". Gary is looking forward to his new role and has even enrolled in a leadership course at the SU Business School (USB) for next year.
"I am here for the long run. It is going to be an awesome journey," says Gary.
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