Ryan Ravens credits the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) not only for getting his professional career on track, but also for helping him in his personal life, as he met his wife Shireen while doing his MBA in 2004.
“The MBA programme was the polishing of me as a professional,” says Ravens on a more serious note. “If I look back on my career, it really helped me in dealing with diversity and in developing the ability to break down large, complex undertakings into manageable components. It was a big help especially during my time with FIFA.”
Ravens was project manager for the FIFA 2010 World Cup South Africa between 2007 and 2010 and before that owned a successful management consultancy. He was also the Group Executive at Blue IQ Investment Holdings (now known as the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency) and CEO of consultancy company TetraPlex.
But it is his new appointment as CEO of Accelerate Cape Town, a business leadership organisation, that really motivates him. “I am extremely excited about this position,” says Ravens. “I believe that the Western Cape in many respects could spearhead sustainable economic development, and is able to push through projects that flounder elsewhere. There are numerous sectors and fields of industry ripe for development, and coupled with significant fibre optic broadband connectivity, Cape Town really is an ideal environment.”
He adds, “I believe Accelerate Cape Town needs to be the agent that pulls all of the different elements together to help drive and boost the economy, both locally and nationally.”
Gavin Tipper, chairperson of Accelerate Cape Town, in his announcement said: “On behalf of the board, sponsors and members, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Mr Ravens. He is a natural collaborator, which together with his commercial experience and entrepreneurial spirit, ideally positions him to take our organisation forward at this pivotal time. We look forward to working with him as he helps catalyse the inclusive growth that is so critical to our region’s future.”
Ravens describes himself as having “an intense entrepreneurial spirit” and says he sees his role at Accelerate Cape Town as being about connecting the dots, driving collaborations between the private sector, government and various industry bodies. “It is about finding commonalities and enabling meaningful engagements to help realise the intrinsic value of collaborative approaches.”
He explains that true collaboration results in measureable objectives and tangible outcomes. “Collaboration shouldn’t be simply for the sake of collaboration because then it only results in a feel good factor. We need to pull partners toward agreed objectives in order to achieve meaningful results.”
There should be less reliance on provincial government to create jobs and more private sector initiatives to create employment, he believes. There are many sectors of the Western Cape economy where he thinks there is great potential for development - from tourism and the film industry to alternative energy, solar power, call centre industries and agricultural initiatives.
“Cape Town is a vibrant economic zone and the hub of service for many sectors of industry. I also see opportunities for increased trade with sub-Saharan Africa, which is booming and will require significant support in terms of goods and services supply.”
But all of this lies in the future. For now, he his packing up his life in Sandton in Johannesburg and preparing to move to his new home in Cape Town with his wife. Asked whether he is happy to come back to Cape Town, he responds lightning fast, “Without a doubt. I can’t wait to be back.”