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Akash Singh - I am driven by the desire to do more for people

AKASH SINGH's success has been driven by 'thinking big" and then having the determination to succeed.

Sigma International was founded fourteen years ago in 2004. The company's journey began when Akash Singh and Christopher J. Naidoo met at university. Their membership of AIESEC, which is the world's largest student-run organisation, provoked a desire to have a positive impact on society. Founded in 1948 and present in over 110 countries and territories and with over 60,000 members, AIESEC provides an international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential as leaders.

AIESEC offers young people the opportunity to be global citizens, to be change agents and to get experience and skills that matter. Singh says that the learning and experience at AIESEC have helped mould himself and Naidoo.

Prior to founding Sigma International, Akash was the General Manager: Product at Nedcor (Banking Group) as well as General Manager: Finance at BoE Bank. Prior to banking, he was a Dispute Analysis and Investigations Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers (Durban) where he had undertaken a series of investigations both in the private and public sector. Akash completed his articles at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is a registered chartered accountant and has completed his MBA in strategic planning.

Singh's professional career and extensive experience has placed him at the forefront of local and global economic development for businesses. Singh's successes saw him being selected as the Standard Bank Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005.

Driven by the desire to do more for people and gives freely of his time, Singh has spent 10 years as a member of the Board of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI). From April 2013 to May 2015 he served as President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which he says was a highlight of his Chamber experience.

He has also served as a council member of the South African Chambers of Commerce (SACCI) and President at the KwaZulu-Natal Business Chambers Council. Additionally, Singh was the co-chair for business at the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Council. Singh is also the Honourary Consulate to the Republic of Philippines for KwaZulu-Natal and a City Planning Commissioner for eThekwini Municipality. He has recently been appointed a Council member representing business for the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) eastern region.

In reference to his time spent at the various chambers, Singh said that this was his way of giving back to communities and "having fun in the business world". He added that Business Chambers are capitalised by the time entrepreneurs spend in service activities including joining forums or providing skills and knowledge free of charge. Singh currently runs the South African office of Sigma International, which is unique in that it focuses on empowering and strengthening people and organisations.

The level one Broad-Based Black Economic Empowered (B-BBEE) company provides a range of robust services that have a high economic and social impact.

Singh is a responsible and caring leader who has extensive experience in innovation, business strategy, mentoring, coupled with strong commercial skills, particularly with regard to business turnarounds and capital restructuring. He has trained or mentored in excess of 5 000 small, medium and large businesses on various practical subjects.

He cites the ability to convince others to join the responsible leadership journey as a challenge. He truly strives to be different in his approach to managing people. He said, "Sigma International takes its core values very seriously and they are used on a daily basis to help guide the decisions and direction of the firm. The employees work-shopped these over a number of sessions, so they are all invested in ensuring that they are evident in the workplace and in our dealings with clients." The values are Teamwork, Accountability, Entrepreneurial, Innovation and continuous improvement, Performance, Integrity and Respect.

"Through our various successes we have written the script to be able to assist business in KwaZulu-Natal. We have a sustainable model and like to look at the impact of our interventions, which must be relevant. Any change implemented must be exciting and not stressful," commented Singh.

He added, "The future of the Sigma International is also built on business incubation and innovation, which allows new opportunities to be explored and actualised." Our organisation is largely focused on turning around, improving and focusing businesses (and organisations) for sustainable growth. Hence it makes us a very relevant company in exiting times. More and more of our clients and stakeholders are looking beyond the profit line. Sigma International is capitalised with a wide range of specialist's skills to help companies and organisations to look beyond profit." "In the future we would like to grow our private equity investment portfolio and continue to stay locally relevant and globally competitive," concluded Singh. In his free time Singh enjoys relaxing by gardening and fishing - for one which he thinks is big!

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