CG Tech’s Chief Ecosystem Officer Jason English is a man who recognises the importance of people and culture. The 43-year-old has made a successful career out of building teams that intrinsically understand his vision, giving way to solid business foundations that are able to succeed long after English’s exit.
Prommac is one such story. Going from a niche market player in the oil and gas sector, to a South African powerhouse under the watchful eye of Jason English, the reigns have since been handed over to new CEO, Dany de Barros. We recently sat down with the two men to discuss the Prommac journey and how a purpose-driven approach and something called the Oros Effect has collectively made a lasting impact on the entire team.
In 2012, Jason English left a high-flying executive position to take over the running of Prommac. At the time, it was a move that came with much uncertainty, but English remained steadfast in his decision and soon began his work of transferring his unique vision into those around him. The Oros Effect, named by English after a South African cordial drink, is simply a concept of ideation flow. The South African entrepreneur firmly believes that by instilling a solid company culture and fundamental beliefs system into those around you, teams are able to work independently and make decisions intrinsically based on the best interest of the company.
In 2014, the business was acquired by the newly formed CG Tech group, an investment holding company with global interests across a variety of traditional sectors. Prommac’s strategy soon became one closely associated with innovation, embracing the latest in technology to give the company a leading edge against their competitors. Under Jason English’s tutelage, the Prommac team thrived, gaining the knowledge and confidence to take on new and exciting opportunities.
“I believe you only lose if you don’t learn,” notes English. “With Prommac we would say to our teams ‘Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn, but we never lose.’”
Passing on the Reins
As the success of Prommac grew, so did the need for new leadership roles. In 2015 Dany de Barros was brought in as the COO. A trained accountant coming from the corporate world, de Barros was pleasantly surprised by the onboarding strategy of English.
“My first day, Jason invited me to his house. We just sat outside the whole day talking about the process. I immediately thought, ‘This is different,’” remembers de Barros. “The time he took to bring me up to speed, he didn’t have to do that.”
Coming from the corporate world, de Barros found the meeting a refreshing way to get stuck in.
“It gave us the time to connect and the ability to understand what he needed from me and what I could bring to the table for him,” explains de Barros.
As Dany de Barros found out that day, the corporate hierarchy present in many companies isn’t something that appeals to English. While their business styles and personalities are very different, the two have always been aligned on their goals and work in a way that complements the other. The partnership worked well over the next few years, with each managing a different area of the business but with the common purpose of bringing Prommac to the next level.
In 2016 a client approached Prommac with a high-level project de Barros was keen to take on. While English didn’t think it was a great move to begin with, de Barros and the team were able to convince him they were ready for the challenge.
“Jason really thought the project in Sasolburg was too risky, but I like to think we twisted his arm long enough and he finally said, ‘All right guys, earn the crack, go for it.’”
For English, giving de Barros the go-ahead was essential to ensuring the future of Prommac.
“I realised if I want Prommac to grow, I have to be willing to give them the reins. In the end it was the right choice,” remembers English.
Understanding that team confidence and the willingness to take on a challenge can pay off in a big way, the Prommac team excelled on the project, with the team managing to finish ahead of schedule and winning Project of the Year as well as Contractor of the Year.
“That project ultimately kicked off where we are today, currently bidding on projects in excess of R300 million, whereas before we were cautious on doing R10 million,” comments de Barros.
With the team confident in their abilities and his Oros successfully transferred to Dany de Barros, Jason English was ready for his next challenge. In 2018, English left Prommac to become the Chief Ecosystem Officer at CG Tech, bringing his unique vision and team building expertise to every company in the group.
Ensuring the Future’s in Safe Hands
In the three years since English has moved on, Prommac has continued their drive to inspire and serve their clients. While many saw the pandemic as a time to re-evaluate and pivot their business strategies, CEO Dany de Barros and his team went with a different approach. Already believing in their abilities within the industry, Prommac took the time to look at ways to improve what they already do best. Digitising systems to enhance performance, efficiency and processes is an area of particular interest to de Barros.
Working with repeat clients to develop and enrich new projects is also proving profitable. In March 2020, after years of knocking on their door, Prommac was given the chance to bid on two out of four projects for Gautrain, a commuter rail system in South Africa. The company was so impressed with the Prommac team, they were awarded three of the four projects they originally tendered for.
“We’re like the annoying ex who keeps knocking on your door. In terms of Gautrain they decided to take a chance on us and we believe it’s been a great success to date. They’re a client who keeps us on our toes, which is actually what we like,” says de Barros.
Another exciting project Prommac was involved with was the assembling and transporting of an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) for Ponticelli. The structures, which measure 40 to 50 metres in height and with tolerances down to the millimetre, work by taking a certain particle out of the gas, making it more environmentally friendly. The complex work was diligently executed by Prommac, proving once again the competency of the team.
While Jason English and Dany de Barros are two very different CEOs, a common thread, seen in their beliefs, quickly emerges and can be directly attributed to Prommac’s success. But English is quick to point out that The Oros Effect only works if your values are inherently good.
“We all have our own ideas or belief systems. But a leader who has bad values could potentially instil that Oros throughout his organisation, and then it becomes very hard to undo,” English explains.
For English that hasn’t happened at Prommac because he and de Barros share the same basic fundamental values.
“Dany has taken my beliefs and ideas and merged them with his own. He has diluted my Oros and made it into his own hybrid but the underlying essence remains,” says English.
He adds, “The fundamental beliefs are the same, it’s always about the people, the communities and ensuring there’s cash in the bank, and now as Dany transitions to his next leadership team, that same Oros is once again being instilled.”
Making the Oros Effect his own, de Barros ensures that every new Prommac employee is issued with a Welcome Kit, composed of a set of personalised polo shirts, snacks and a bottle of Oros.
The first question they ask upon opening the pack is, ‘Why is there a bottle of Oros in here?” And so the next in line is initiated into The Oros Effect.