When new leaders join a business, especially a multinational division like Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM), an overarching strategy with prioritised strategic objectives is required to ensure focus amongst all teams. This ultimately ensures that all teams are moving in the same direction.

Once our team had assisted in formulating SEM’s overarching strategy, we moved into a focused strategy execution phase working with each operating unit to determine their goals over the next year. By highlighting interdependencies and alignment to the strategy we were able to assist the CEO and teams to create the focus required to drive momentum to achieve these goals. A direct outcome of the focus we created through prioritised goals, was the identification of a partnership that led to a successful acquisition for the SEM team.

“You’ve helped us consider our portfolio of international businesses and distill it into a set of priorities, with clear accountability, setting us up for the deal of a lifetime”






Seven months



Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) was a division that came under new leadership and felt the need to review their long-term strategy to ensure alignment within the team. SEM operates in more than 30 countries under both owned and partnership models, with separate operational teams, but centralised oversight at a head office level. The leadership needed a strategy that could be communicated to the Group Board and would enable seemingly independent operating areas to work together to drive the same greater purpose.

With multiple partnerships, businesses and leaders across various regions, there was a need to understand priorities and growth areas. Each country has to be considered in its own right, but also in a comparable way to understand the relative opportunity. In this light, dashboards would be useful to continually track and monitor growth and health of the business.

We mobilised our team on a focused strategy formulation project. This included insight into the competitor landscape, the market size and its segments, with the opportunity size per segment. The insights provided context for a target operating model that included a new business structure and changes in roles and responsibilities.

As a second phase, the Step team was mobilised to drive strategy execution. The team considered all operating units (functional and geographical) and facilitated their respective goals that needed to be achieved in the following 12 months, determined any interdependencies, as well as the respective part of the strategy that the goal was driving. This was done during a 2-day workshop and individual engagements thereafter.

Our expertise in strategic communication came to the fore with a powerful strategy document and a presentation for the Sanlam Group Board.

We then summarised all goals, dependencies and alignment on one page to enable the CEO to manage respective team members based on these goals in the months to follow the workshop.

During the project, a potential partnership with another operator was identified, leading to an eventual full acquisition a few months later.