Erik Venter | CEO of Comair

Erik joined Comair in 1996 as Financial Manager, and has held various positions within the company including Commercial Manager; Commercial Director and Financial Director.   In July of 2006 Erik was appointed as Joint CEO of Comair and served in this position until December 2011 when he assumed the sole responsibility for the company as Chief Executive Officer.   He remains in this position to date.
Whilst attending the University of Cape Town, Erik attained a B.Com and Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting and further completed his articles with KPMG qualifying as a Chartered Accountant (South Africa).
Erik previously served a term as Chairman of the Airlines Association of South Africa and was re-elected to serve a further term at their AGM held on 1 November, 2014.  
Erik is currently a Director on the Board of Imperial Air Cargo.  
As a married man with two daughters, Erik has a busy lifestyle but finds time for his hobbies which include painting, building custom-made cars and re-modelling furniture.


Erik-Venter_P1My Definition Of Success | Textbooks always say that you must have personal goals to work towards.  I was always concerned that I did not have big personal goals, but have come to realize that it is more important to enjoy the journey than to just get to the destination. You will spend your life on journeys, but only seconds on arriving at destinations. It is the difference between riding a motorbike and driving a car!  So success means an enjoyable journey.


I Am Driven By | Finding opportunities and delivering on them. When I run out of opportunities then it is time to move on.


The Difference Between Good And Great | Experience and EQ. No amount of academic learning can prepare you for the unique set of circumstances that presents itself in each challenging situation, and no textbook can address your unique response to a challenging situation. But if you have dealt with a similar situation before then you should quickly recognize both the technical and emotional components that need to be dealt with.


A Key Talent | Persistence. You cannot become really competent without experiencing and pushing through the darkest hours. These are the greatest opportunities to learn about yourself and to gain wisdom. This means that you sometimes need to tolerate short term setbacks and have faith that the wheel will turn and what is fundamentally right will prevail. It is always tempting to take the easy route and bail out when things get tough, but then you will miss out on real personal growth. Like Lawrence of Arabia said “It is not that I don’t feel the pain, it is that I don’t mind the pain”.


Principles I Live By | Courage to take decisions in the absence of all the answers, and humility to take the advice of others and to quickly change your decision if something better presents itself.


Erik-Venter_P2How I Use My Mind | I can get quite incensed by ridiculous comments or allegations, in which case I force myself to mentally design a practical plan to deal with the matter. This instantly removes my emotion from the situation and helps to find a pragmatic solution.

 


Lessons I Have Learnt |
Listen to smart people, but don’t adopt their views blindly.
Don’t waste mental capacity on causes that are outside your control – rather focus causes within your control, and on solutions.
Don’t wait for a perfect plan before starting a project – some of the best solutions reveal themselves during work in progress.
Don’t procrastinate – if you can’t take a decision then immediately identify what needs to be done to achieve a decision.
Consider what your decisions will mean for the people who have to implement them, both technically and emotionally.
Focus on other peoples’ strengths – if you just focus on weaknesses then you reduce everyone to average.
Try to do a task at least once yourself before delegating it.


Erik-Venter_P3Performing At My Peak | I proactively plan my time and tasks, and if I am running out of time then I re-prioritise tasks and delegate the remainder. The result is that you end up doing the most important tasks with a self-imposed deadline.

 


The Meaning Of Life | To learn the interconnectedness of everything, and how to make the perfect Mojito.


Advice On Building Wealth | There is no short cut, and you will not be happy with wealth if you do not feel that you worked hard for it.


On Inspiring Others | Look for people who have a cultural fit with the organization. Give them freedom to use their competencies. If they succeed then they will be hugely motivated by having applied their own initiative, and if they fail then they have gained experience. Either way they become advocates who attract more great people and who grow commitment to the organization.
By comparison, micro-management and ruthless management by targets is the quickest way to kill organizational commitment and motivation.