Chief Financial Officer – Trellidor
Damian Judge, CFO of JSE-listed Trellidor, explains how CFOs have been thrust into the driving seat in the time of coronavirus, where liquidity and strategic direction are what will separate the winners from the losers.


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CIARAN RYAN: This is CFO talks and I’m Ciaran Ryan, and I’m very happy this morning to be able to welcome Damien Judge, Damien is a chartered accountant, and he’s also the chief financial officer of Johannesburg stock exchange listed Trellidor. Trellidor is a company which provides security Gates, but we’ll find out about that in a minute. Interestingly, Damien was also nominated as one of the top five under 35 years of age CA in South Africa in 2017. And first of all, welcome Damian, how are you?

DAMIEN JUDGE: Yes, very well thanks in this challenging time that we find ourselves in.

CIARAN RYAN: Where are you based? Are you in, in Johannesburg/Durban?

DAMIEN JUDGE: We’re based at the Durban office. The Trellidor head office runs out of the manufacturing plant in Durban. So at the moment in Durban, but working from home as many of us South Africans find ourselves. But we also have a plant in Cape Town.

CIARAN RYAN: Right, okay. So tell us about your journey to CFO at Trellidor. It seems like you’re quite young and you excelled in your studies. So what’s been your journey so far,

DAMIEN JUDGE: Started as a small town boy up the North coast in Zululand in a small town of Mandini and sort of ended up at boarding school in Durban, at DHS From there, you know, you get into that group of friends that we had in my group, matric year, we had about 16 of us that decided we wanted to be CAs. So we all started studying together, but I started articles full time, pretty much straight out of matric and did my degree part-time through UNISA. So took the long road to qualifying and stayed within the auditing profession with PKF in Durban for a while, from about 2002 to 2010 and in 2010, I remember that I actually had a passion for manufacturing and not so much auditing. My dad was an instrument engineer at, um, SAPPI Tugela up the North coast and as from as young as I can remember, I loved going on factory tours and just being in that environment. So I really had this passion for manufacturing.

So from 2010, sort of started making my way into that field and then in 2018, I got an opportunity to do an interview for a position at Trellidor. Obviously very limited listed company opportunities in Durban so it was an opportunity that was definitely the step up in my career having served as a financial director at two other companies previously. Then, yeah, I joined them in 2019 and, we there now.

CIARAN RYAN: Right. So maybe just explain what Trellidor door is for people who don’t know. I mean, we know the advertising, it’s all over the TV and the press in South Africa and has been for years. It’s a very strong brand, but what are the drivers of the company? Just give us an explanation.

Trellidor’s been operating for just over 40 years now

DAMIEN JUDGE: Perfect obviously, it’s been a market leader in the South African context for a number of years Trellidor’s been operating for just over 40 years now. Really made its mark as that sort of sliding Gates security product and came to the fore in the early nineties and from there, it’s just grown from strength to strength. We’ve got sort of 70 franchise networks across the country that distribute the product under license. Then from 2015, we started to add some new products, so you know, the nature of residential living in South Africa has changed quite dramatically. Yo0u know, the advent of security estates and golf estates make a traditional Trellidor a little bit less desirable. So we branched out into more lifestyle security, which includes your security, shutters, and roller shutters and cottage guard type of products. So it’s got a broad range of security, physical security barrier products but also bringing in the aesthetics and the design side of things. So the architects out there don’t get too upset when we ruin their designs from aftermarket fitment. And then what we’ve also expanded to as the Trellidor group is into the blinds and decorative shutters market. So we own a manufacturing business down in Cape town called Tailor blinds and shutters, and that focuses on roller blinds, Venetian blinds, a very well known brand in Cape town, been operating for about 60 years.

They also do a security shutter named called Shutter guard, which is a very strong brand down in the Western Cape as well as lifestyle shutter products. So we’ve really sort of tried to get into that window covering physical security, but also climate control space and then distributing throughout Africa. So we’ve got franchise network across Africa, the African continent and into the UK and Europe as well. So there is still the global reach of Trellidor and we do distribute products across the globe. So yeah, from a market perspective, that’s really where we are lying at the moment. From a sort of key drivers we really are residential focus, so we very consumer driven which is obviously a difficult space to play in at the moment. Closely linked to house transactions, so the more housing well properties that are changing hands. People come in, they want to do a bit of a revamp, they want to upgrade the security.

They want to upgrade their window coverings and that’s where we see our key trigger points from a spending perspective and that’s been on the decline of recent years and probably struggling even more right now, given COVID. From a sort of matrix marker, we tend to track quite closely to new car sales, it’s also that sort of higher LSMs category and we can often see the trend of new car sales if that’s flatlined or rising a bit, but we tend to be on the same trend as them.

CIARAN RYAN: Give us an idea of exports. I’m quite interested in what you’re saying about your franchises around Africa, you know, exporting into Europe as well. What percentage of your total sales would be exports?

DAMIEN JUDGE: It’s probably around, just under the 20% mark at the moment. We’ve had a, it’s an interesting space because for the UK, for example, which we’ve, we’ve had a presence in the UK for over 20 years, either an own branch or a franchise, which it is now and in that space, it’s very commercial focused. So we’ve got key clients like Sainsbury’s for example, we do, we do all these stores, we’ve got contracts with their stores. We’ve got some, which was in our results release a couple of years ago was our contracts with the London underground on securing their stations. So that market is very, very commercial focused and they seem to have quite a nice business in that space, which we haven’t been able to replicate as, as we’d like in South Africa. So we were taking those learnings on board and then across Africa as well we do quite a nice exposure into your embassies. So the United States embassy and the UK embassies and their residential and housing projects for their staff, they’re very security conscious. So we see a big, we’ve got a nice market share there and slowly but surely growing into that commercial and residential space across the African continent as well.

CIARAN RYAN: And so do you have branches in Nairobi and Kampala and places like that?

DAMIEN JUDGE: Well franchises wise, we were pretty spread throughout most countries. In Ghana specifically, we have an owned branch, which we’ve been operating for about I think over five years now. But yeah, generally is that franchise model, which has replicated in most key countries. Big, big supporter of our products over the years has been our neighbors. You know, the SADC region, the brand doesn’t have to stretch too far to be well known across the border and those areas have been very kind to us in the franchise model as well.

CIARAN RYAN: Okay. Are the exports sales growing? Do they follow a different track to the South African domestic market? Hello. Sorry, where you went offline there for a bit Damien. I don’t know if you’ve got that question. I was just asking about export sales. Are they growing?

DAMIEN JUDGE: Yeah. Sorry Ciaran, can you hear me again?

CIARAN RYAN: Yes, I can hear you.

Export sales trends

DAMIEN JUDGE: Perfect. Yeah. So yes, export sales do follow a different trend, but we are seeing if you grouped them together, there is a trend upwards, but it’s not consistent across the regions. You know, you have the areas that Excel one year and are slightly behind the next and then, vice versa for another region. So it is your mixed bag that sort of feeling that Africa is one place, which sometimes we refer to is it’s very wrong. I mean, every country has its dynamics and we play within that and that’s where the franchise network is so useful so that you don’t have a, the South African global approach, you have that presence in country. That is reacting to the, the country specific needs.

CIARAN RYAN: Right. I’m just curious from a personal point of view, how sales are doing in Ghana, because I worked there for a number of years, you have a branch in Accra is that where it is?

DAMIEN JUDGE: Yes, correct. Yeah. So we’re in a Accra and we’ve had some good performance in the last two to three years showing some growth. So that businesses definitely in a good space, we’ve got a good team that operates there. In Accra which we try to do, which increases our speed to market is we run what we call a trim shop model. So what we produce in Durban, we produce basically a knockdown kit for them and then they have an assembly shop in country where they can cut gates down to size and assemble in country. So it makes it speed to market a lot quicker and that’s definitely helped us against our competitors because there’s not the long lead time of shipping, shipping delays and port delays and the guys can turn it around fairly quickly in country.

CIARAN RYAN: All right. Let’s just turn for a moment to the Corona virus and the impact that it’s having on the business. How is it affecting you? First of all, in South Africa, and then in the other markets that you’re operating in across Africa and Europe,

DAMIEN JUDGE: It’s obviously had an impact. We were locked down for that period in April where we couldn’t trade and we weren’t producing any products. But since we’ve been able to get back into production, we’ve been, I wouldn’t say all systems go, but we, we up to a decent operating level and, and sales are coming in.

It’s obviously not close to the levels that we would have hoped for or what we’ve seen previously. So it is definitely had an impact on our market in South Africa specifically globally, it hasn’t, we haven’t seen as big a decline. There was a slight delay, I think, Accra, for example, Ghana were locked down for two weeks and then they came out. So we have had, you know, regional impacts but outside of the South African borders, it’s been okay. They have been shipping delays and port problems and things like that, that we’ve had to navigate. The UK’s has had a good run, obviously Sainsbury’s in the lockdown they wanted to run out a few projects and make sure that they got the stores up and running.

So it’s, it’s a mixed bag, you know, and it’s hard to put your finger on exactly if there’s a trend, I don’t think a trend is developed yet. I think we’re in for us at least another six to 12 months of seeing how this whole thing plays out globally with second waves and things like that, that they talk about coming through. But we are operating, we are below where we want to be, but yeah, there’s enough volume to keep the plant running and the sales team hungry and excited to get out there.

CIARAN RYAN: All right. So what are the key things that are occupying your attention to the moment? Like a lot of companies? Is it liquidity, you know, you’re having to sort of meet payroll at the end of the month, or is it other things, is it operational as a CFO where you’re putting your attention these days?

The Trellidor group is very blessed with a good cash generation

DAMIEN JUDGE: As we just had our year end it’s audit but other than that you know, truly the Trellidor group is very blessed with a good cash generation. So we, we have been very cash focused over the period, to make sure that we are sustainable. and we’ve been fine in that regards. Not too much pressure in that sense but the big focus is what is the new normal. I think that’s really where we need to try and put this peg in the sand of, you know, what does the next 12 months look like from a sales perspective? And how does that impact the rest of the business and taking steps to make sure that we are sustainable through this period, and put procedures in place or policies in place that allow us to grow one, some level of normality returns to the market.

Our real focus now is on sustainability across the businesses.

Which obviously talks to cost control and, trying to convert as much sales as possible. So, a lot of my time has been spent on understanding what that new normal needs to look like, um, and, and understanding where the pressure points are on, from a cost perspective.

CIARAN RYAN: And have you had to lay off any staff?

DAMIEN JUDGE: Not as of yet, we haven’t got to that point.

CIARAN RYAN: Okay. and so the, the issues that you’re involved with at the moment would be, is trying to find out what is this new normal, how long has this new normal going to last? Is that right?

DAMIEN JUDGE: Exactly Ciaran and I think that the, you know, usually see there’s some level of certainty that you can plot against, even if it’s negative certainty, at least you can see some trends. But you know, there’s no doubt South Africa, 2019. I think most people were thinking, okay, we’re pretty close to the bottom now and we’ll start to tip up. I think COVIDS carved a new bottom and we still need to figure out what that looks like and where the trends of, if look at the new car sales reports that came out the beginning of the year, they forecasting to be, I think about 23% down year on year and that’s a big number on a top line level that you, that you need to take into account. So. What is conservative and is conservative enough? I don’t think anyone has that answer at the moment. So we, we plotting a very conservative approach, and rolling forecasts are going to be key for us. I think that’s the new buzzword around the business is let’s understand our rolling forecast model. How quickly, how accurate is it and how quickly can we respond to what it’s telling us over the next three to four months and what needs to be implemented? So, yeah taking those writing four courses and then driving implementation. I think that role of the CFOs is evolving into that perspective is where, you know, you can be the watchdog and I think that still needs to, there is still a strong case too, for that watchdog role. But ensuring that strategies are implemented, is absolutely key to the role now because you know, you can identify everything that needs to happen, but if it’s not getting done you’re not going to see the results and we see that at, at government level. That’s the same for a business, if you’re not implementing the strategies that will respond to these types of circumstances, then you dead in the water.

CIARAN RYAN: Yeah. I was looking at some figures the other day from Panda, which is this private group of actuaries and they they’re saying that this lockdown is a complete overkill and the government is operating on overblown data. However, the what is not in dispute is the fact that the number of jobs that have been lost in the economy is now 3 million. So the impact on the economy rather than on the health of the nation is what the focus should be is what they are saying. Be that as it may, I think that’s being felt by, by every company in South Africa. If you’ve got 3 million people now who out of jobs, that of course it’s going to affect spending right across the board. So it makes it very difficult to forecast, does it not?

DAMIEN JUDGE: No it’s spot on you’re a hundred percent correct on that. The challenge on for forecasting is very difficult and so, what you’re trying to do is start at that at that conservative level, which hopefully we can outperform and if we are performing it, then at least we know that what we’re doing below that line is going to be sustainable. But as soon as there’s indicators, that potentially that their forecast was, or that conservative level was not conservative enough, then we’ve got the next actions that we need to take into account. So that’s the type of approach that we taking be conservative as possible upfront plan the business accordingly and if there’s even a slight support at the top line, we know that our strategies will keep us sustainable. If we see that that trend is going the wrong way, we’ve got plan B in place that we can trigger an implement as quickly as possible.

CIARAN RYAN: I would imagine that the CFO at these times has really adopted a steering role in strategic committees in companies across the country. Is that your experience have you been integrated far more into the planning and the strategy of the company?

DAMIEN JUDGE: Yeah, definitely from our side, Ciaran, I mean, I’ve always positioned myself as a sort of 2IC to the CEO rather than a traditional FD, because I think in the role of CFO or FD, you have so much insight into the whole business. That is just so much more valuable to give it around a steering committee table and being involved in the strategy.

So, you know, Trellidor we’ve adopted through this whole period a very inclusive approach. It’s been, you know, teamwork meeting weekly across departments from planning to production to HR, this pandemic affects every facet of the business and if you don’t have that collaborative steering committee that everyone has the inputs I’m not sure you’re going to navigate it as best as you can. So we’ve definitely taken that approach and I definitely play a proactive role in that. I think it’s key for every CFO and FD in this, in this time you need, you’ve got the insights of the business as a whole and how decisions would potentially affect it and it is a numbers game, you know, unfortunately moment the Cash is king in businesses currently and you’re going to need that financial insight in your decision making to make sure that that stays the case.

CIARAN RYAN: So for the moment, you’re not too worried about the liquidity aspect of the business, because I think you were explaining a little bit earlier when you do a sale, 70% of that is paid upfront so you do have quite strong cash flows. Is there a point at which, you know, you have to start knocking on the doors of the banks and start lining up the facilities that may be needed a bit later in the year.

DAMIEN JUDGE: There’s nothing to indicate that at the moment Ciaran, we’ve got a very conservatively leveraged balance sheets. We’ve got a good relationship with our banks as we said, in a recent sens release we did apply for a moratorium through this period, which the banks are offering on capital repayments, which we qualified for. So there’s every indication, every forecast, even on a conservative level, indicates that we were more than capable of surviving this period. But we obviously keep our, bankers close in, in case things change dramatically but at the moment that’s not a key risk area for us. Our cash generation has been positive and we are in a good position to kick on now that we sort of at some level of consistent manufacturing.

CIARAN RYAN: Okay. Just turning for a moment to accounting in general and the accounting rules, you know, the big four accounting firms have been dragged through the mud to one degree or another because of accounting scandals over the years. Are the accounting rules sufficient? Is the industry, the accounting industry is it regulated sufficiently, do you think? Or are there some things that could be improved?

DAMIEN JUDGE: I think the regulations are fine and the rules are fine. It’s, just, I see it that there’s two problems that we possibly face and one is internal and one is external. You know if you look at some of the feedback that came from the Zondo commission and some of the guys that have testified there, there’s a clear problem that internally the people that know that these things are going on, don’t feel safe or secure enough to whistleblower. And we need to find a mechanism that creates this safe space that enables people to report these things when they can see they’re happening. Because everyone that’s come out on that, if you look at the Bosasa deal, everyone knew something was not right, but that fear of losing my job, I’ve got a bond. I’ve got a family to support, overrides that ability to blow the whistle. And we really need to look at a mechanism to create a safe space for whistleblowers to operate and it is a financial safe space. I think we can’t there’s a security and that sort of things from threats, but there’s definitely a financial safe space that we need to create. I think in the U S for example, there’s a financial incentive for a whistleblower. So if they, if they come forward and they, and they make a claim and it’s proven to be correct, um, there’s a financial reward that they receive, for their efforts on policing or monitoring or holding the governance line and I think we need to look at something similar to that. And then externally, I just, you know, if you read most of your ethical, conversations and documents around how you as an individual need to maintain your ethics and independence, a lot of it comes down to money, you know, exchanging gifts, all those types of things but the one thing that we don’t talk about from independence is who pays whose fee. I don’t think you can ever have an independent audit if you’re paying that person to conducted that audit.

If we could replicate the auditor general model

There’s always that, sort of conflict that takes place and a good example, which I think is well documented now is the SAA audit. You know, up until the point that it was audited by an external firm that it never had a qualified audit opinion, the auditor general took over and in the first year, there’s qualifications. I mean, if something is not right in the way that those audits are conducted and I think it comes down to that independence regarding fees. If we could replicate the auditor general model that you, you pay into like a regulatory body and that regulatory body allocates your auditor, you don’t have a say in it, you know, you can’t dictate it’s allocated by that body. I think we’ll get a lot closer to an independence like, an auditor general sort of system. Where, you don’t, there is no relationship that you need to manage and the audit firms worried that they’re going to lose a fee down the line and I don’t know if always these are the conversations that happen, but it’s a commercial business at the end of the day. I really think we need to look at those dynamics

CIARAN RYAN: And has Trellidor rotated its auditor at all over the last few years.

DAMIEN JUDGE: We rotated our audit partner year before last, so when I came in last year was our first audit with the new audit partner

CIARAN RYAN: and who is that?

DAMIEN JUDGE: We are audited by Mazars

CIARAN RYAN: Oh, okay Mazars would be like the fifth largest, I suppose, in the country. Yeah interesting view and I think it’s becoming fairly well-spoken about, elsewhere in the country where you have a, a body like the auditor general, who takes over that role of allocating auditors’ and I think that’s a point well made that you it’s just inevitable that you’re going to get perhaps a little bit too close to your existing auditor and the SAA example is one that has come up before, and it is a very good one. As soon as the auditor general steps in, he starts to, you know, qualifying the audit and I agree with you on that one. But you say the rules you think are sufficiently robust as they are at the moment?

DAMIEN JUDGE: I think they are, I think it’s application and implementation and that comes down to people ultimately.

CIARAN RYAN: Yeah. I mean, if you look at some of the, real big scandals that have happened in South Africa at Steinhoff and Tongaat as well. You know, there seems to be, there has to be a decision made very high up in the organization for something like that to go on, to start hiding or disguising revenue and disguising liabilities and doing it in very complex and interesting ways, you know, and in a couple of books have already been written about Steinhoff, for example. That has to be a decision, deliberate decision that’s made at a certain point. At what point do you think that started to happen in an organization? When people say, you know, we’re running into trouble here, we have to satisfy the shareholders or whatever. Where do you see that beginning to creep into the organization?

DAMIEN JUDGE: I suppose there’s two drivers. I think that the Tongaat example is probably that performance question that there’s, you know, there’s this, this drive to try and get results and then it becomes, it almost seems at, at any cost by the end of it. I think the Steinhoff version is more driven by personal greed and a culture set by maybe one or two individuals to change how the business runs. But I think there’s an interesting space. If you look at the JSE, for example, you know, you want this robust and quality audit to take place, but you’ve got to report within three months of year end. So the two don’t really speak to each other to allow time to really dig in. And if you look at a business as big and as complicated as Steinhoff and even as big and as complicated as Tongaat became with their different divisions and the different revenue streams. Is three months really enough to understand that business and identify where these things are happening.

So this time pressure to get performance and this lends yourself to be able to, to maybe manipulate I think if you really are that way inclined, but yeah. In terms of getting back to your question, it probably is a culture that starts to creep in and probably like with anything, you get away with it once and it’s on a small scale and then it just starts to escalate as rock rolls down the hill. But that’s where I think independent boards and robust boards are so important, to bring these things to light. And I think the nice thing about, you know, if you take it back in conversations, now you can, you almost say in board meetings, like, you know, don’t be a Jooster or don’t be a Staudi or whatever it is, it’s actually creating examples and people, there’s almost these warning signs are now in the light of what these are top of characters could be like to try and push their way through. So as bad as it has been, I think that if we take the learnings, it gives us the warning signs and then it’s up to the boards to make sure that they’re responding to them.

CIARAN RYAN: Okay. I was interviewing Professor Ian ball from university of Wellington recently because New Zealand is such an outstanding example of at a national level of how you run your finances, that they just are extremely successful. What they did several years ago was they moved, I’m talking here at a, at a public level at a national level they moved from cash to accrual accounting. I was trying to figure out what you know, what would be the benefits of that. You know, because here there’s a focus at a corporate level, you know, you’ve really got to focus on the cash side, you know how much cash do we have in the bank? The benefit of accrual accounting he was pointing out is that you really get a much better sense of first of all, your assets, you know. So as a country, you have to quantify your assets, you also have to look at your balance sheet and look at your liabilities over the long term. Once you have an understanding of that, then you can start to make your assets, sweat and he’s even talking about this kind of Uber model for public assets, where you start renting them out or trying to find new sources of revenue from them. What’s your viewpoint on that from a corporate side, obviously they both sit side by side, you’ve got your cash accounting, you’ve got your own cruel accounting and you do need them both. But what is your view on that?

DAMIEN JUDGE: Well, I can definitely see from a government perspective, why that makes so much sense because I mean, you know, you’ll often hear the stories of, budgets being all spent by 10 months into the year and there’s still projects to be done, but they hold them out to wait for the new budget to come in because I think it is basically cash driven. So on an accrual basis, it makes planning a lot easier and you’re not under the government organizations wouldn’t be under that pressure to spend, spend, spend, they could plan it a little bit better. So it does make a lot of sense from, from a government perspective. From a corporate perspective it’s a challenging one. I think the, if you look at the adjustments where we’re going from an IFRS perspective, there is almost this move towards this fair value model slash accrual model, where you are looking at that future value of everything, assets, liabilities, and bringing those in and I think from an analyst’s perspective, they probably getting quite frustrating. Cause it’s even starting to impact the cashflow report statement, which was usually the clarity statement that’s being provided. So I think international standards are, in terms of, are we accounting or moving more into that, into that space rather than a full blown cash model. It does make it challenging you know, sometimes to understand what the numbers are saying and I think that we need to move more into a stronger disclosure in notes of your financials and explaining more about those details within the balances that make up that have been made up rather than trying to create these forward looking views, or that are too complex. I mean, how many people in that reported in December got their forward-looking views rights this year? Very few. If any, so it’s a challenge because it does, when an event like this is triggered, like the Covid triggered it does, it does put pressure on those type of forward looking models.

CIARAN RYAN: Right. Damien, we’re running out of time here, but just a couple of quick ones it’s a question I ask everybody, what books do you recommend?

DAMIEN JUDGE: So a bit of a different one that I quite enjoy and it comes back to sort of, my ideas on leadership is it’s all about people. So I try and focus on the books that, that challenge the way I, look at or assess people and I really enjoy the Malcolm Gladwell series of books in that respect cause he just brings a new perspective on how we’ve looked at historic events and how we sort of are interacting with individuals currently. So. I would definitely recommend his current one Talking to strangers, which gives a very interesting perspective on how we jump to conclusions whether on purpose or, or not when we meet people and I think what’s happened globally with the black lives matter campaign and Covid it really just resonates with me quite strongly as something that everyone should read and be aware of. And also, if you want to have a incredible experience from an audio book perspective, that’s definitely worth a download cause he’s really shaking it up from what it means to be an audio book for that novel,

CIARAN RYAN: Are these novels?

DAMIEN JUDGE: Yes, Malcolm Gladwell is the author. He talks to, you know, he’s done a few on sort of the tipping point and, the outliers and things like that. Where he just sort of looks at how people are, you know, how we’ve interpreted historic events and is there another way to look at it. You know, did we miss something? And it just, gives you a little bit more insight or something, a different perspective on the way things have played out and then on Talking to strangers, he just goes into a lot more detail about, you know, he talks about how people assess in interrogations and, what assumptions we’ve made with sort of police shootings and things like that and it just starts to unpack. You know how badly we actually interact as humans with each other and what we need to be aware of when we meet people. But what he’s done with the audio book is he’s taken as this Talking to strangers novel, and he’s almost narrated it from an audio book perspective, but as a live podcast, when he’s talking about an interview that he’s had with someone, he actually cuts to the interview in the audio book. So you feel like you in the room with the guys, he’s done an incredible job from a production perspective.

Sustainable development goals

CIARAN RYAN: Okay. So that’s Talking to strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. That sounds like an interesting one. Now, also this year you developed a program focused on educating South African businesses of all shapes and sizes about sustainable development goals. Now, this is something that is becoming very topical in the business world. Just tell us very briefly about that.

DAMIEN JUDGE: Yeah, sure, sure. Obviously, being a CFO, you sit on the board and reporting sits in your court and one of our challenges is to look at how we can improve our sustainable development reporting. So as you dig into it, I just realized that there’s just this almost a clutter information out there, and it can be quite confusing in which direction to go. I had an idea of a very simplified campaign where we unpack all the development goals, there’s 17 of them, in a campaign that really just looks to try and break it down to just a basic understanding of what the goal means and what it means for South African businesses potentially. And then, and then how we can improve our reporting across all sizes of businesses, because I think it’s something that every business is doing that they don’t probably know about and should be doing, you know, going forward. I think this pandemic and lockdown really emphasizes how important we relook at the way we interact with people and the world. So I came up with the campaign partnered with, a few other CAs and then the South African Institute of chartered conferences has come on board in a joint venture to sort of sponsor the program as their keystone education program around STGs. And one of the main objectives at the end of it is to get more businesses reporting towards the goals in a simplified and easy to understand format as possible.

CIARAN RYAN: And people who are interested in that, where can they get more information on that?

DAMIEN JUDGE: So we’ll be launching the program from September. We’ll have a website, it’s called Sustainable SA and through SAICA’s sort of networks you can also get in touch once the campaign’s launched and we’ll be running podcast series, we’ll do some webinars on reporting webinars just to get interaction, there’ll be social media campaigns. We’re trying to just be as broad as possible to get the message out and then on the website, there’ll be a sign up campaign where you can get in touch with us and tell us how you’d like to get involved or help contribute to the process.

CIARAN RYAN: Wonderful stuff, Damien. I think let’s leave it at that. I think we covered a fair amount of ground there. That was great to have you on and really enjoyed hearing your views on all these different matters. And I hope the rest of this year works out okay for you and for Trellidor and let’s certainly stay in touch. Let’s get, you know, get you back on the podcast in a few months and see how things are going.

DAMIEN JUDGE: Super I’d really appreciate that. It’ll be great to, you know, once the sustainable development campaign gets going, you know, to share some of those, those views with you and how it’s been developing

CIARAN RYAN: Great stuff. That was Damien Judge, who is the chief financial officer at Trellidor. Damien thanks.

Ciaran is a seasoned journalist and podcast host. He has a back-ground in finance and mining, having pre-viously headed up a gold mining operation in Ghana.In this podcast he interviews various CFOs, get-ting more detail on the role of the CFO and their daily challenges and solutions.


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