Paul Berman, Chief Executive of Berman Bros property investment and development company based in Cape Town, has been honoured with international recognition of his work with the Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) in Africa.
YPO is the premier leadership organization of chief executives in the world with more than 24,000 members in more than 130 countries. YPO member-run companies employ more than 15 million people and generate USD6 trillion in annual revenues.
Paul, who headed up YPO in Africa last year, was awarded the prestigious Alexander L Cappello Award by YPO at a function in Vancouver, Canada, which was attended by almost 2,000 of the world’s business elite. This global leadership award is YPO’s highest honour in membership development.
The Award is given to members who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the recruitment of new YPO members, diversity expansion, and new YPO chapter development, impacting the health of the organization beyond their chapter and region.
Paul joined YPO in 1998 and was appointed Chairman of the Africa region, which includes Mauritius, for the period 2013 – 2015. Africa poses many challenges for YPO. The gross domestic product of certain countries makes it difficult to find qualified members, and the magnitude of the geography makes consolidating members into manageable locations challenging.
“The biggest challenge was uniting the region and changing the perception of Africa,” says Paul. “Only when one defines and articulates a crystal-clear vision, strategy, goals and objectives can you ensure buy-in from your colleagues. While our chapters are supported by a team of highly competent professional administrators responsible for the day-to- day management of the organization, it is the leadership provided by our members that provides the lifeblood, the very energy, of YPO.”
Paul chose to reinvigorate and instill pride in the region, and placed significant focus on mentoring young business leaders. “I wanted to send into the world young business leaders who are uniquely equipped to contribute positively to their societies and communities and, in that way, contribute to a better and more equitable world,” says Paul.
“Members of YPO are highly competent professionals serving the organization in a purely voluntary capacity amid demanding business lives,” he explains. “In taking up the leadership position in Africa, I found myself in the sometimes challenging mode of leadership that relies not on rallying rank-and- file followers by means of superior skills and talents, but by the diplomatic inspiration and motivation of my own equals.” Paul’s leadership habits were profoundly influenced by his YPO champion experience. The demands of leading leaders is peculiar to the dynamics of YPO where all members occupy powerful positions of influence and authority in their own business careers.
In addition to inspiring chapters to grow their own membership, Paul inspired regional leaders to broaden their own horizons and look for leadership opportunities.
“This has been an incredible leadership journey for me. Quite apart from the invaluable lessons to be learnt from my peers throughout the world, Africa is indeed rising and leading the continent for YPO gave me an irreplaceable opportunity to travel to countries I’d never visited and meet people who were truly inspirational. The Award is really a recognition of everyone in YPO in Africa who worked with me.”