Yokesh Maharaj has had an illustrious 15-year career at SAB. During this time, he has had the opportunity to hold a host of positions, each preparing him for his new position of Business Unit President for South Africa for the AB InBev Africa Zone. We had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his journey so far, and what he is looking forward to in the future.
Can you please start by telling us about your SAB story?
I have been at SAB for approximately 15 years and have held a variety of commercial and operational roles within the organisation. I have been General Manager in KZN, General Manager in Gauteng, had a stint as HR Director, and came back to the sales environment as a Sales and Distribution Director. Last month, I was appointed as Business Unit President for South Africa for the AB InBev Africa Zone.
How do you think the beer industry has changed since you first started working in it?
There are a lot more brands and categories within the alcohol landscape that compete for the same occasion and consumers. This has certainly made the environment a lot more competitive.
Personally, I think this is great for SAB and great for the beer category. It forces us to continually strive to be a better business tomorrow than what we are today and also challenges conventional thinking and drives great innovation within the industry.
Tell us about your fondest memory at SAB.
Being at SAB is like going to university all over again – the only difference is that this fantastic organisation pays you to learn and develop yourself every day! I am honoured to be part of, and lead the business in South Africa.
When you get a break from the beer industry, what do you like to do?
I enjoy travelling and spending time with my family. I think that in the world we live in today, appreciating and spending quality time with family is key to a balanced perspective on what's really important in life!
What do you think makes the South African beer industry unique?
Like most markets, I believe it's strong local brands. SAB has brands with a strong local heritage, which has an impact across the entire South African value chain – It goes way beyond our immediate organisation.
Our consumers believe in the strong local heritage of our brands in South Africa, as we are a proudly South African company.
What is your favourite SAB beer and why?
Castle Lager... quenching the thirst of miners since 1895, and ensuring that "it all comes together with a Castle" to this day!
What is your favourite beer fact?
Beer is the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world - and thus the most popular - and the third most consumed in the world after water and tea!
How do you think your previous positions have prepared you for your new position at SAB?
Having strong mentors, managers and leaders across my various roles. As I said, SAB is like the "university of life" - you never stop learning and developing.
What are you looking forward to the most about your new position as Business Unit President?
I am looking forward to leading this organisation by building on the legacy of the great people who have led SAB before me. I think with the combination of AB InBev we have access to great new brands, best practices from around the world, and it's incredibly exciting to be part of the largest FMCG organisation in the world. This creates a platform to take SAB to the next level.
HIS PARTING THOUGHTS:
I am very proud of the people at SAB - we have always had a deep and persistent desire for excellence and a hunger for success.
It is with this legacy that I am more inspired and more motivated than ever, as we enter this new chapter in SAB's history, as a proud member of the AB InBev family.