Be your own CEO-David Tubb on Leadership

Commercial Director, David Tubb proves that at the core of RCL FOODS is authentic leadership which is about seeing and doing things differently and displaying judgement, drive and influence.  As a leader in the business, his mantra is that every person needs to be the ‘CEO’ of the world that they control. With this drive for accountability and passion for continuous development, David inspires his teams to do MORE.

We interviewed David to find out MORE about the Commercial space at RCL FOODS and his career journey so far…

  1. Tell us more about yourself and what you are passionate about

Married to my wife Amber who I met at University, we have three kids aged 13, 11 and 9. Outside of travelling and spending time with my family, I love cooking (and eating!). Although my wife generally rules the kitchen during the week, I take over on the weekends and love pottering around the kitchen with a glass of wine and some music on in the background. To offset my healthy appetite, I make sure that I exercise at least five days a week. This passion for fitness has led to me finishing five Comrades Marathons with a personal best of 8 hours 45 minutes as well as completing multiple stage road cycle races.

  • Most people see where you are now, but don’t know where you started. Tell us about the career journey that led you to eventually becoming a Commercial Director at RCL FOODS.

I started at the University of Natal Pietermaritzburg where I planned on studying a general BComm but instead followed the Accountancy route. After graduating, I did my articles at Deloitte in Durban and was fortunate to be given the opportunity to work in Washington DC before moving to London in 2003. For a number of years, I worked in investment banking before deciding that I needed to get back into a business where I could ‘see’ the products and their value. This led me to spending two years in a small IT company where I was able to witness massive growth, work on a number of corporate finance deals and get involved in the day-to-day operations of the business, which was what accelerated my interest into the commercial side of finance. We then found out that my wife was pregnant with our second child and realised that our small London apartment wasn’t going to work for our growing family, so we started thinking about a move back to South Africa.

Soon after, I was offered the role as the Regional Commercial Manager for KwaZulu-Natal in Hammarsdale and one week after arriving back home, I started my new job at Rainbow Chicken.  After spending 18 months in Hammarsdale, I moved into the role of National Sales Commercial Manager in Westville and worked in that role for four and a half years. I was then asked to take on the role of Commercial Director for the Consumer Business and finally for the Food Division after a short stint as the Food Partners Director late last year.

  • What does a day in the life of a Commercial Director look like?

A typical working day for me can range from walking around a factory to understand investment needs, supporting our Supply Chain & Business Unit teams, reviewing the performance of innovation and working with our Marketing and Sales teams to develop an appropriate response plan. What I love most about the Commercial space is that there are very few parts of the business that we don’t get involved in, making my days varied and interesting.

  • With the FMCG industry constantly shifting, how does RCL FOODS ensure that they keep up from a Commercial perspective?

As an Executive team, we are committed to understanding what it takes to be ‘best in class’ for each of our Business Units and to ensure that we develop the appropriate action plans to close the gaps where needed. With consumers under financial pressure, we understand the importance of delivering a quality product that is also affordable. That’s why one of our big areas of focus is on reducing ‘waste’ throughout the business so that we can optimize on efficiency, which will ultimately give us the best chance of successfully navigating these challenges. We also understand that in such a fast-paced environment, we need to ensure that we remain relevant. This means prioritising investment in areas that we have earmarked for growth and balancing this against top line growth and margin enhancement.

  • Covid-19 brought about many challenges in the workplace. Share with us what challenges you faced as a Commercial Director and how you and your team managed to overcome them? 

With a very decentralised team, I have been so proud of each and every person in the Commercial function for rising to the challenge and demonstrating their commitment to the business during such an uncertain time. Many of our team members have continued to work on site across the country and have stepped up into gaps that have been created by ever-changing legislation as a result of the effects of the pandemic.

Working remotely has also been a bit of a learning experience for us all but a necessary one, nonetheless. While I believe that nothing can substitute the personal connection that we make from face to face engagement, we should never return to a world where we fly to Joburg for a one-hour meeting.

Another area that has presented some real challenges in our space is cash collection and credit management. However, in order to overcome this, we stepped up our involvement in the process to create a link between Vector Logistics and our Sales team to assist in resolving issues and facilitating payment as efficiently as possible.

  • How has RCL FOODS be an ideal place for you to grow your career in the commercial space?

What is truly unique about RCL FOODS is that for a business of scale, we still maintain an entrepreneurial mindset with the leaders being exceptionally approachable. I have also found that at RCL FOODS, opportunities present themselves at times when you least expect them. We have commercial people running operations and business units, spreading into the supply chain and even front-end roles which is testament to the quality and skills of the people that we seek to grow. We understand that the business has ambition to expand beyond its current categories and as it does, opportunities will open up to people who demonstrate their ability to step up into leadership roles.

  • What is your proudest/most fulfilling moment at RCL FOODS?

I think that there is a lot that we can be proud of achieving as a business. Most notably, we have managed to take four businesses with completely different systems, reporting structures and cultures and successfully integrated them into a framework that can be replicated again and again.

  • What is your mantra as a leader in the business?

I am a very strong believer that every person needs to be the “CEO” of the world that they control. When you go to sleep at night, ask yourself whether you are happy with the state of your world for the day. If so, sleep easy. If not, get up and make the changes necessary. 

Development and progression is, in my opinion, largely a function of your own efforts. By focusing on exceeding delivery expectations and demonstrating leadership excellence, you will position yourself to step into the space created for you.

We are proud to have leaders, like David, who uphold our Standards of Leadership and use their authenticity and experience to do MORE for their teams and RCL FOODS.