EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW- Simon Muzviyo
It is not every day that one gets invited into the Managing Director’s office. To give you a complete picture, the MD’s office is a very spacious, squeaky-clean office with the potential to make anyone feel very small. Fortunately for this writer, the man inside the chair does not share the intimidating tactics with his working space.
The extremely respectful, soft-spoken and intelligent man behind the City Parking brand could fool anyone into believing that he is not the most revered individual in the building. Revered for his spirit of excellence and unprecedented resilience that has seen an otherwise new concept in Zimbabwe, draw positive attention, Simon Muzviyo, chooses to downplay it all with a ready smile. It should be very natural for City Parking staff members, to some days, wish to be a fly on MD Muzviyo’s wall. We sought to do the same with the following Q and A.
City Parking: We are aware that you are ever working towards company growth, but that’s the bigger picture. Your employees and stakeholders may be interested in your current project. What are you currently working on?
MD Muzviyo: In our annual business plan we anticipated for the securing of at least three business opportunities with other local authorities nationwide. We managed to get a breakthrough in the City of Gweru, we also managed to secure a management agreement with the Municipality of Shurugwi as well as the Municipality of Beitbridge. These are the key projects which we are working on this year. These are the ones we have managed to secure through agreement, but they are not the only ones on my desk. We are still in discussions with other local authorities who are at various stages, and we may not be at liberty to mention names right now, but there is hope that we will secure meaningful business before the year ends.
These projects speak to the growth of the company, but you will find that as an organization we also need to dwell as well on issues of innovation. Thus, we are coming up with a home-grown parking solution which we are developing through City Parking’s Research and Development team the project is almost at 97% – 98% completion and that’s another achievement that we will be reaping very soon.
City Parking: Every company leader has their own style of approaching business. In most cases, the leader’s style sets the tone for organizational culture. What would you call your leadership style?
My leadership style is a bit unique in that I am an open book, and I am open to involving all key stakeholders of the organization, particularly all levels of management and all other layers which are below the management. I value every employee’s contribution to the strategic planning of the company. So, my leadership style is liberal and all-encompassing. It is not a one-man knows-it-all leadership style. This is the same spirit that I wish to see in the organization, whereby employees tackle the organization’s goals as a collective. If I was to borrow from politics, I would say I am a democratic leader.
City Parking: Do you feel your ideology has been totally embraced by your downlines or more could be done?
MD Muzviyo: I would say yes because my management style gives every employee some form of ownership in the direction of the company. They also feel part of the direction of the strategic decision and they feel very open to participating because their ideas are implemented. I feel it has brought us to where we are as evidenced by the various awards we have won over the years. It’s something that can only be done as a collective.
City Parking: There have been shifts in corporate leadership leading to a much younger crop of leaders. What qualities do you think are lacking amongst the leaders of today?
MD Muzviyo: That is a tricky one! Lately, we have seen young in terms of age but not in terms of strategies. Leading a successful organization does not really have anything to do with the age of a person, it depends on the wisdom, and leadership skills being exhibited. I have not yet seen the downside of having young leaders. I have seen how the ndakapinda kare mentality doesn’t really take a company forward. The world is getting fast-paced, meaning we also need young brains to suit the kind of internet thinking required for innovation. If you had your degree then compared to now, things have changed within the same fields hence the young blood should be the cornerstone in directing company policy.
People have different definitions of success. What does success mean to you personally?
MD Muzviyo: If you say touch personal success, I would touch myself because I take time to really look at where I came from and how I have worked tirelessly to transform myself from where I was. I had not seen myself leading an institution, starting up a company like City Parking, taking it from a complex manual system to a system that is highly reflective of technological innovation in the parking business. Success to me is simply a question of whether am I satisfied with my achievements. That is my definition in general terms, but it depends on the others and how they define their success. Personally, I would say achievement of your goals at an individual level. You do set the goals and if you manage to fulfill them why not call it a success?
City Parking: The people we admire set the foundation for the construction of our personal ethos. Which CEOs do you admire and why?
MD Muzviyo: I would choose the example of the CEO of Econet, Dr. Mboweni, under the turbulent environment he has managed to raise the Econet flag high, and his company commands a large market share, but you can hardly hear about him. It is that kind of silent yet effective leadership that inspires me.
City Parking: You have a lot of work in your hands, Sir, how do you manage to remain visible and available to your employees?
MD Muzviyo: No one can ever be too busy for their employees. The same way that I can tackle different tasks in one go, is the same way I manage to attend to everyone while I work. Usually, junior employees come in without appointments just to greet me and I entertain them. That is when I must rely on fellow managers to do certain tasks on my behalf. I have learned that delegation is a must since I can’t be everywhere at the same time.
Simon Muzviyo-The lighter side
To tap into his lighter side, we asked MD Muzviyo to participate in a very quick fun quiz.
City Parking: Good Music or a good book?
MD Muzviyo: I have been too busy for an entire decade(laughs) These days I will go for music-I listen to all genres.
City: Miami or Sun City?
MD Muzviyo: I believe in Ubuntu so I would go to Sun City (laughs again)
City Parking: Victoria Falls or Vumba?
MD Muzviyo: As a person who was raised in the Eastern side of the country. I love Vumba most because of the weather.
City Parking: Gym or Jogging?
MD Muzviyo: I am a gym person
City Parking: Sir thank you very much for your sparing your time
MD Muzviyo: It’s a pleasure.