Executive profile – Emmanuel Sinclair, Chief Operations Officer at Ozow

Just after matriculating in 1992, Emmanuel Sinclair joined the South African Revenue Services (SARS) as a registration clerk. Never one to waste an opportunity, he used these next eight years at the Receiver to complete several short courses, including a Tax Certificate, Advanced Tax Certificate, and an Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting. By the time he left SARS for a small, family-run bookkeeping firm, Sinclair was a qualified auditor who had a number of special investigations at the fraud department under his belt.

Welcome to the big time

As enticing as the smaller firm was, Sinclair needed something bigger, so when an opportunity to join EY as a junior consultant came his way, he grabbed it with both hands. It was then, in 2005, that his career really took off.

Throughout the years, Sinclair had progressed through the ranks and had eventually landed a strategic role that supported multinational organisations expanding into Africa. It was here where Sinclair found himself as the relationship manager for i-Pay (now known as Ozow), and where he had developed a good rapport with i-Pay CEO Thomas Pays, who was looking for a Chief Operations Officer at the time. Sinclair’s work ethic and skills aligned perfectly with what Thomas had in mind, and it was then that Sinclair was offered the job.

From start-up to scale up

Having worked primarily in large organisations, Sinclair was unaccustomed to the start-up culture of i-Pay (now known as Ozow), which at the time did not have things like key performance indicators for employees to work towards. Sinclair had not counted on the fact that startups typically do not come with a built-in structure, and it was in this space that his role became to provide structure, of which the auditor in him wanted to do quickly.

His first three months at Ozow were focused on settling into the culture, understanding the industry, and establishing a structure he was comfortable with, but that would still accommodate the entrepreneurial mindset of the founders. Next, Sinclair spent time with the sales team to keep them more focused on their go-to-market strategy, creating a more sustainable approach to customer engagement.

Since then, Sinclair has driven a culture in which the company now hires senior management and mandates them in order to build their divisions in a way that aligns with Ozow’s growth vision. Today, as Ozow moves out of the start-up phase and scales up for the next few quarters, Sinclair’s daily focus is on getting the balance between skills and strategy right. He believes that the best way to achieve success is through enthusiasm and determination, all of which are essential qualities that will contribute to growing the business.

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