Building Digitally Inclusive Futures: CG Tech and the Role of Impact-Driven Business

Building Digitally Inclusive Futures: CG Tech and the Role of Impact-Driven Business

London, United Kingdom – June 30, 2021 – Legendary New York Yankee Yogi Berra is credited with saying, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is.” At first glance the statement might seem a bit contradictory, but in terms of the business world, taking a plan from the strategy to execution stage is notoriously difficult. Those who find success rely on multidisciplinary teams who are able to seamlessly connect, working together with a common goal for the future.

CG Tech is one investment holding company that appears to be nailing the formula. Relying on a sustainable strategy promoted by the group’s Chairman, Niall Carroll and implemented throughout the portfolio by Chief Ecosystem Officer, Jason English. Concentrating on a view of investing with purpose, CG Tech seeks to add value to its underlying investments through sharing strategic insights and encouraging technology-based innovations. Putting the wellbeing of people before profit maximisation, the investment firm is achieving results throughout its diverse portfolio. With interests in a variety of industries including entertainment, construction, oil and gas, virtual reality and sound stages, the group is collectively moving towards its aim of creating a highly successful, responsible and agile organisation by 2030.

Success in business can be measured in a variety of ways. In today’s world of inflated markets and the appeal of a quick buck, the trend towards sustainable capitalism is a movement that is ruminating in the background of most organisations, but it certainly isn’t a new concept. In fact, Dame Vivian Hunt, a senior Partner at McKinsey, recently spoke at the Imperial College Business School’s Annual Conference around the ideas of responsible leadership, something she refers to as “stakeholder capitalism.” In an article published earlier this year by McKinsey, Hunt and her co-writers state that during times of change, “resilient companies do better, getting hurt less during downturns and then coming out stronger compared with the competition.”

It’s a view Niall Carroll has long shared. Cultivating a unique business strategy during his time as a successful banker and then CEO of an investment company, in 2014 Carroll decided the time was right to mix things up. Establishing CG Tech with his business partner Andrew Jackson, the South African entrepreneur began looking at investing in established industries where empowering people through new skills and technologies could successfully create disruption.

Wind Tunnel Strategy

In the last decade Niall Carroll’s aptitude for knowing where to invest has helped CG Tech scale from a small investment holding firm to a significant market player. Success, Carroll believes boils down to a simple analogy.

“I like to imagine we’re standing in one of those wind tunnels you sometimes see on TV, where $50 bills are flying around. If you’ve picked the right wind tunnel you can pretty much just stand there and the money will stick,” says Carroll. Adding, “But if you’re in the wrong wind tunnel with very few $50 bills flying around, it doesn’t matter how much effort you exert, the money just isn’t there.”

While the analogy might sound simple,  it seems to be appropriate in the CG Tech narrative. The group has successfully developed applications for drones and virtual reality that have enabled it to capture more of those $50 bills in traditional industries, while also moving into new wind tunnels such as rapid build, demountable film  sound stages.

“Our in-house software applications have been important for us, especially in terms of helping companies like Al Laith land contracts for their construction and entertainment-related services,” explains Carroll.

“Towards the end of 2020, Al Laith used numerous forms of technology to pitch the Arch Experience project to Dubai Tourism and Dubai Festival City Mall (Part of the Al Futtaim conglomerate). We used everything from digital assets and 3D renders to visualised animations and gamification through The Virtulab’s own software platform, Virtuworx. During the build we also deployed IoT devices and ground scanning to monitor and track progress,” notes Jason English.

But choosing the right wind tunnel is only part of the equation. It is also vital to pick the best position once in there, ensuring you’re in a prime spot for the money to stick. This is where strategy meets execution. For CG Tech, it is where Jason English steps in.

An “Oros-Led” Execution

For Jason English ensuring the safety and well-being of your people is a vital piece of the business success puzzle. The 43-year-old is so tied into the idea of building successful teams and instilling a solid company culture, something he refers to as the “Oros Effect,” English has decided to pen a book on the subject.

“At the end of the day, your people are who get you through tough times. It is important to nurture these relationships, bringing them into the company fold and instilling an understanding of your goals and philosophy,” says English.

The South African doesn’t subscribe to the hire slow, fire fast model. Instead, he believes the best way to bring out an employee’s peak performance is to give them the time and space within the organisation to fully develop into their role, a model English defines as Engage, Develop, Propel. It’s a purpose-driven approach to business that promotes ambition but is also highly tolerant of failure – in fact, it actively encourages the right kind of failure.

Subscribing to this belief is English’s mantra: “Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn, but we never lose. We only lose if we don’t learn from our mistakes.” English goes on to clarify, “We understand that not every project is going to be an absolute home run, but we know that there will be something to learn, even when we fail. That lesson could be the very thing that powers our next move.”

The ability to accept challenges, learn from them and move on is a strategy employed throughout the CG Tech portfolio. Where under the watchful eye of Niall Carroll an environment of openness and transparency has been infused throughout the group. Working together in a unique ecosystem structure, CG Tech’s Board of Directors is made up of owner-operators of its subsidiary companies. For Carroll this has been a deliberate strategy, linking companies together in a way that encourages collaboration.

“We try not to take a bunch of high risk bets, where one giant win offsets the other failures. We are focused on generating superior investment returns, but within a context of sustainable and collective success.  Taking people along with you often takes more time and can be more frustrating than just barking orders. But it builds greater corporate resilience and more thoughtful and effective colleagues,” explains Niall Carroll.

At its core, CG Tech’s philosophy boils down to one thing – an investment in people. With Niall Carroll on strategy and Jason English on execution, their roadmap to sustainable capitalism is proving a potent mix, driving dedicated, incentivised teams to make better and faster decisions with the help of innovative digital technologies – their model of choice to positively promote the trinity of purpose, people and profits.

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