Moneyweb – Keeping up with the CEOs amid Covid-19: AME

African Media Entertainment’s group CEO has been inspired by the team’s approach and how quickly subsidiaries have adapted.

Many companies have had to change their business operations during the lockdown period. We caught up with several CEOs to find out how they’re holding up, and whether or not it’s ‘business as usual’.

Here’s what AME Group CEO Dave Tiltmann said.

Where are you working from?

I’m working from my home base in Port Elizabeth. As a group we had been monitoring the encroaching threat of Covid-19 since late February and put a proactive business continuity plan in place to mitigate risk and keep our people as safe as possible. As a result, 260 of our 292 staff across our various subsidiaries are currently working from home.

Fortunately, our business is highly reliant on technologically-advanced systems, putting us in a favourable position to enable these measures.

Our various properties around the country have also allowed us to keep the 32 staff still reporting for duty safe and socially distant from one another. By way of example, our radio presenters [AME owns Algoa FM and OFM] are rotating between studios to keep everyone separated and this allows ample time for meaningful disinfecting of studios and surfaces in-between. Our people have also been provided with the necessary personal protective equipment.

How are you conducting your meetings?

Our communications strategy uses a combination of video and voice solutions as well as email and text messaging across various platforms. A combination of Google Hangouts and Skype For Business seem to be the preferred meeting solutions within the group.

During our online meetings, we initially keep our video stream on for the purpose of ‘social connection’ between colleagues. Then we switch our cameras off to preserve bandwidth and keep our microphones muted when not speaking. We are also making use of audio calls for quick turnaround times.

However, agility is the name of the game. Our clients include ad agencies, industry bodies and service providers. For these interactions we use a combination of Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram. And it’s working well.

Dave Tiltmann says the key disruptor right now is revenue, but the heightened engagement with audiences is paving the way for the innovation of a new tomorrow. Image: Supplied

How are you finding working away from your usual designated workstation?

Radio is the original form of social media, and I come from a strong radio background so I’m really missing the interpersonal contact with my team. After all, fun is a serious business!

However, through our business continuity plan and communications strategy I’m able to be fully functional and productive. We have made every effort to provide support to our people working from home. This includes providing the necessary tools of the trade and internet access to work remotely.

I am also very appreciative of my team’s families for their support and allowing us to operate from their homes during this challenging time.

Is the lockdown causing a huge disruption in your business operations?

The key disruptor at this stage is revenue. The forced closure of so many businesses under lockdown regulations, combined with the cancellation and postponement of events, has resulted in lower-than-budgeted revenues, weekly forecasts to budget, and tightly managed cost-containment measures to maintain our profitability. All of this amid the group’s year-end financial audit.

We appreciate that many of our clients are impacted by the national lockdown and we’ve been working closely with them to support their objectives through this period. While some have opted to alter their messaging, others have taken the opportunity to strengthen their brand image during this time. Admittedly, many have also opted to postpone their campaigns.

Most of our subsidiaries are classed as ‘essential services’.

And they’re doing an award-winning job of providing quality service, information and entertainment for our many audiences and stakeholders around the country.

What does your company have to do to keep up with the changing times?

I have been inspired by my team’s approach and how quickly the various subsidiaries adapted to enable remote operations. I believe this process was largely assisted by the ‘digital transformation’ introduced at subsidiary level before the turn of the century and in the prudent investments made into cloud-based solutions and infrastructure to facilitate stakeholder objectives.

For now we remain at the cutting edge of technologically-advanced solutions to enable our businesses to function without compromise.

I believe the heightened engagement with audiences will result in stronger bonds between brands and consumers, which will inform credible research objectives and pave the way for the creativity and innovation of a new tomorrow.

Having said that, I must pay tribute to the dynamic and emotionally mature management team at AME. The balance of experience, tried and tested business skills, and an uncompromising passion to succeed makes the task easier. Together, we remain 100% committed to our stakeholders and will continue to monitor the situation and adapt our response where required.

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This article was published on moneyweb.co.za