COLIN NAIDOO's long career in the airport industry has spanned 25 years. Soon after joining Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), Naidoo realised that he had found his professional calling and enjoyed the airport environment.

Over the years, he has moved up the corporate ladder to reach the position of Senior Manager for Corporate Affairs of King Shaka International Airport (KSIA).

Naidoo says that his position includes a multitude of tasks with a focus on mainly managing external stakeholder relationships, although his responsibilities does extend to internal stakeholders. He also deals with media reporting and queries. In addition, he is responsible for managing the King Shaka International Airport brand, which he is passionate about growing.

Regarded as one of the best airports in the world, passenger numbers and flights have been on the increase since KSIA opened nine years ago. From its inception in 2010, KSIA has garnered many accolades over this period. KSIA is a major economic catalyst for investment and growth in the region and celebrated a major milestone in 2019 of reaching almost six million passengers by the end on the 2018/19 financial year.

"The airport is more than just the physical buildings, we don't take stakeholder engagements for granted and we keep on working on them. ACSA's been around for 26 years, and we wouldn't have been one of the most successful state-owned enterprises if we didn't invest in our stakeholder partnerships. The political, economic and financial climate changes constantly and we have had to adapt."

Due to this approach, another major accolade was the commencement in October 2018 of three flights a week, by British Airways, directly from London to Durban with B787 900 aircraft. This was achieved through the collaboration of the KZN Route Development Committee now called DURBAN DIRECT (involving the city, province, ACSA, Dube TradePort, Tourism KZN, Trade & Investment KZN) and other stakeholders.

The relationships that he has built with people have contributed to his success, said Naidoo. He added that he is inspired by the people that he meets every day. "Each time I walk through the airport, I feel the vibe of the space. I meet external people as well as those from the different levels of the operation itself. Over the years, I have built deep-rooted relationships based on mutual respect, which I keep on renewing."

He added, "I have also built solid partnerships with the business, tourist and airport related sectors. The spirit of the airport and the industry never changes and that keeps me going and grounded." However, the one thing that stands out for him in his daily tasks, and which is the motto that he lives by, is the importance of 'service first'. He uses this motto to shape his response to any challenges that he confronts and says that this outlook is what drives him daily. He added that he is always ready to help other people, both at the airport and outside of it, whenever required.

Naidoo's years of experience in the airport industry has prompted him to want to leave a legacy and share this wisdom with others. "With all my years at the airport it is of no use to me to keep all this knowledge. As part of my legacy, I would like to find ten people and before I retire, pass on all that I have learnt about this industry."

Each of Naidoo's days at the airport is demanding. He says that as he has a long drive to work and back each day, he enjoys listening to 'good soul music' to switch off (and switch on). On the weekends, he says that he likes to dress down, so that people don't recognise him as he enjoys keeping his family life private, and visits flea markets as often as he can to unwind.

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King Shaka International Airport
Colin Naidoo KZN Business Leaders video shoot