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7 things I learnt from Clelland Kruger

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • November 1, 2014


I had the privilege of working with Clelland Kruger for over three years at iBurst.

Somehow, in spite of struggling to make profits and being trapped in an endless price war, we managed to build a happy company culture.

Clelland was the HR director in that time and was key to us ultimately winning 1st place in the Deloitte Best Company To Work For survey for the Telecoms sector.

The result of a great company culture was that we could get away with paying up to 30% less than market norms, we rarely lost good staff to competitors, and we regularly attracted stars that were simply looking for a work environment that made them want to get up in the morning.


After I left iBurst she left for Cape Town and joined Virgin Active as the head of HR. I can see her fingerprints on Virgin. Its an amazing company, and the amazingness boils down to one simple thing:

Happy staff.


This is what I learnt from her:

  1. Tell people the truth.
  2. Help your staff grow as individuals.
  3. Rules & policies make it easy to say no.
  4. Have mercy sometimes, be unforgiving other times.
  5. Say goodbye. Especially when people leave on bad terms.
  6. Be prepared. Never arrive at a gunfight without ammunition.
  7. The little things matter. Give staff the day off on their birthday.


The easiest way to retain staff is to recruit nice people. People like working with nice people. Never hire an asshole. No likes to work with an asshole.


At the end of the day, we’re all humans. Everyone is just trying to get ahead. Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of your staff and you’ll build a winning company culture.