In conversation with Richard Phillips

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Richard Phillips, joint CEO of Cash Connect Management Solutions

“I had no idea where I was going when I started out in my career, but I soon realised that I thrive on excitement and the not-so-ordinary.” And that, according to Richard Phillips, joint CEO of Cash Connect Management Solutions, is how he landed up in the security industry, first in the South African Police Service (SAPS) and then in the private sector.

Blessed with an ability to grasp concepts quickly, he says he “somehow” developed a reliably balanced and structured view of things, and this, along with his passion for life, a very positive (“sometimes naïve”) view of the world and a desire to be of value to his fellow man helped mould him and take him to where he is today. The rest, he chuckles, was left up to fate.

Beginnings…
Richard went to school at SACHS in Cape Town before going on to study at the Railway Police College and then the South African Narcotics Bureau under the command of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

A graduate of the South African Institute of Security (SAIS), his career as a security professional spans more than 48 years and has, in addition, seen him holding various positions in key industry organisations. These include the vice presidency of the Security Association of South Africa (SASA) and chairmanship of its Management Committee. He was made an Honorary Life Member of SASA in recognition of his contributions to the industry in 2004. In 1999 he became the Founding Chairman of the Cash-in-Transit Crime Prevention Forum, which he represented on the National Priority Committee on Bank and CIT Crime, an institution formed and chaired by the SAPS, and he’s written and presented numerous articles and papers on security and cash management throughout his career.

In 1989, on the back of his career in industrial security and operational management, he became Operations General Manager at Fidelity Cash Management Services. He spent 15 years with the company during which time he participated in the development of technology and processes within cash management, logistics and security and was eventually appointed Sales Director before retiring in 2004.

But retirement wasn’t for him and in 2006, he took on the role of Managing Director of Cash Connect Management Solutions. Today, as joint CEO of the company, he says it’s a personal and career highlight to see how Cash Connect has evolved. “Being part of an initiative that created career and personal growth opportunities for more than 140 hard-working individuals with the impact it has had on their families, has been the most rewarding part of my life – and something I never saw coming!”

Day-to-day…
Cash Connect provides a streamlined cash management and payment solution for retail customers throughout South Africa. Included in its offerings to customers is same-day value and risk cover, the provision of working capital and business finance when needed and handling supplier payments directly from the cash vault. “From the moment the cash goes into the vault, whilst in transit, and until it appears in the client’s bank account, we cover the risk. The cash is guaranteed, side-stepping traditional insurance assessment delays and critical cash flow effects on turnover.”

Quick to praise his colleagues, he says he loves being part of a very skilled and multi-talented team that collectively contributes to every facet of the business. “My knowledge of cash management, logistics and security supports often dynamic and ground-breaking innovations and technological advancements. We make a measurable difference to the lives of our clients and the Cash Connect family. To be part of that excitement and be part of the realisation of our ongoing success is incredibly rewarding and intoxicating.”

The challenges…
Being a trailblazer in a traditional and sometimes even conservative environment comes with its challenges. “In South Africa, the risks are particularly high in cash-centric businesses so we have a daily challenge to win their confidence and belief that we can be an indispensable and integral part of a successful retail operation, which will reduce costs, improve cash flow and deter crime.”

Championing the cause…
An active champion for the prioritisation of cash crime by the government, Richard says it’s critical to mobilise a collective response to organised crime and win back the right for people to live and work in relative safety.

Support structure …
Key to his success, he says, has been his “amazing and supportive” wife, independent children and very demanding grandchildren, all of whom fill his world with laughter and love. “It’s very easy to juggle!”

The future …
“I’m rapidly coming to the end of my career and I run the risk of becoming one of those old ‘know-it-all’s’ who become an increasing bother and burden to a modern-thinking, agile world. But I guess that, for as long as someone believes I can add value, I’ll hang around!”

Dreams and hopes for South Africa …
“I have been so privileged to have spent a lifetime in a multiracial, multi-gender microcosm of South African society. The country I love and understand is a country that has proven many times over that it has the capacity and desire to punch way above its weight. No matter the challenges and what often seem to be impossible hurdles to overcome, I believe that the values, determination, faith and hope with which we were led into democracy by Madiba will ultimately endure.”

Best advice …
“Winston Churchill, with all of his shortcomings, has been an inspiration for me from as far back as I can remember. Etched in my psyche are those famous words: ‘Never, never, never, never give up.’ Apart from that, I believe one should surround oneself with winners and people with the courage to aspire to win.”

Chill time …
A keen writer, pubic speaker and fisherman, Richard’s characteristic sense of humour bubbles out when he says: “I am a very privileged member of a drinking team with a fishing problem that is made up of very dear friends from over twenty years of life, adventure and magic!” He also loves rugby, wildlife, off-road touring and camping, and birding.

Behind his success…
“I don’t really believe that any individual can achieve personal success on his own. Every successful venture or event in my life has come about from the collective efforts of the teams I have been privileged to have been a part of, whether in a personal, community or professional capacity. There are so many people with whom I’ve shared the journey, and who have shared their knowledge, experience, guidance, humility and love, that it would be impossible to name them all. What is more important is that, despite the march of time and thanks to modern technology, I have remained in touch with most of these wonderful characters and enjoy deep and fulfilling relationships that neither time nor distance have been able to erode.”

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