Wayne Janse Van Rensburg, Chief Executive of education company Learndirect talks to Business Matters about the inspiration behind their business, which has seen them become a finalist in the 2023 Business Champion Awards
What do you currently do at learndirect?
I am the CEO of learndirect. It is my responsibility to manage all of the operations of the company and ensure that we, as a business, continue to uphold our vision, mission and values.
This is especially important give the fact that we are a provider of adult education where tens of thousands of learners come to us each year to take that next step in changing their lives, something I am very proud of.
As CEO I aim to inject a natural fast pace approach, passion and enthusiasm to the business that creates a level of excitement and inspires my fantastic team to think big and bold.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
learndirect is all about social mobility. It is about preparing and enabling people to take the next step in their education to allow them to make a positive impact in their lives.
The inspiration behind the business is to be the catalyst for change and allow our learners to make that change at a time and place that they can fit around their own lives. This is why people chose learndirect as we offer online learning opportunities that people can fit around their own lives.
Who do you admire?
My grandfather was actually one of the early ‘pioneers’ of home learning. He set up and ran a very successful correspondence college (where course materials were posted out and the answers posted back to the college). I began working in his business at the age of 13. He taught me a lot about business, resilience and the value of money, so I appreciate the early impact he made on my professional life.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I am a great believer in no regrets. For me, the most important thing in life is to learn from your mistakes. I have no doubt I could have made different decisions/done things differently, however I believe that had I, I would be in a different position than the one we are in as a business today. Given I am extremely proud of where we are as a business and the trajectory we are on, I am ultimately proud of the decisions made to date.
What defines your way of doing business?
Innovation, passion and leading a team to deliver a fast paced, forward-thinking business. Being astute at spotting opportunities, taking calculated risks when assessing them and quickly taking innovations to market. We are nothing without our team, so keeping them motivated, passionate and proud to work for the business is key to success.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Business is not easy. You can never underestimate the importance of resilience. Don’t waste time dwelling on mistakes, but rather learn from them and move forwards. Business is not part-time, it requires total focus.