CEO RR Group
Esayvanie (also known as Esay) Reddy is an accomplished business woman with over 30 years of experience in the petroleum, quick service restaurant, healthcare manufacturing, telecommunications, and distribution industry. The group comprises KZN Oils and KZN Oils Transport, JD Telecoms, Ko-Lay Home of Chicken, Champion Health Care and KVK Property Development.
As an astute business leader with a wealth of experience, Esay oversees sound strategic manifestation and delegation across all business functions, ensures profitability and is the chief custodian of the Group’s image from the marketing point of view.
The ‘mothership’ of the Group
Easy and Rajen Reddy, her late husband, began their business journey in 1990 with a Shell Service Station located in Briardene. Commenting on their many business successes Esay explains, “We got to where we are today through lots of hard work and sacrifice. Both of us had the same goals, which was a better life for our three children. I started working with Rajen when my youngest child was one year old; I had to leave him with the helper to start cashing up and look after the finances in the service station. We worked basically 24/7 in the early days and had to forego holidays.”
Due to the huge amount of time required, Rajen decided to sell the service station and move into the stationery business. This opportunity came about when 23 black economic empowerment companies were started at the Port of Durban. The venture was very challenging as Esay and Rajen knew nothing about stationery. However, from that initiative an opportunity to supply fuel and lubrication to the port emerged.
“Despite a lot of challenges, we got our first order and that is how KZN Oils was born with the story of four barrels of diesel fuel. KZN Oils, the ‘mothership’ of the group, was established in 2001 and had her twentieth birthday this year. From her, all the other companies were born,” explains Esay.
Esay is the mother to three children (Kerushin, Venisha and Kreeshan) with Venisha gifting three beautiful granddaughters. Being a mom, a wife and working within the business has always been a challenge for Esay. Her method of balancing her life was to separate the different aspects. “Once I was at work, it was just about work and while I was on my way home, I thought about what I had to cook and what the kids needed.
It also was planning. I found separating, organising, and having people to assist, helped me along the way to balance raising kids that are adults now, along with running a business that has become very successful, and maintain a marriage for 37 years.”
Esay reflected that her greatest life challenge has been losing her husband earlier this year. Rajen, she says, has left large footsteps for her to follow. However, she has a good knowledge of all the plans, the blueprint, and what he had in mind for the group of companies. Even though it has been a challenge for her to step up to the role of Group Director and Group CEO, she has taken it on with honour.
“We have over 200 staff that rely on us and after Rajen passed, the most important thing was to continue with his legacy and honour his memory. I know that is what kept my three children and myself going. With him not here now we have no choice but to step up to the plate and do exactly what he has done. It’s the least that we can do to say thank you for all the work that he has done all these years.”
Throughout Esay’s years of experience, she always maintained a people-first-focus, for with the empowerment of people, comes the empowerment of communities and the socio-economic growth of South Africa.
In particular, Esay is passionate about empowering women and the RR Group has an 80% taskforce of women in its companies. She says that one of the most important things about being a female in business is ensuring that you are happy. The RR Group focuses on ensuring their employees’ wellbeing is taken care of through a strong human resources department with initiatives such as flexible working hours for mothers.
In addition, Esay is involved in a number of community projects including supplying sanitary pads to youngsters in rural areas. Another passion is to get connectivity to all the schools in the rural areas, which is an ongoing programme. “We believe that education with information technology will connect children to the rest of the world so that they will not just sit where they are right now.”
She added, “I believe that the group of companies needs to work hard in order to uplift communities. I don’t believe in giving grocery parcels because you can only do so for a limited amount of time.” In response to the recent looting, the RR Group is currently working on converting containers for informal traders to be used in communities where shops and informal shops have been destroyed.
Determination and a strong mindset
In conclusion Esay said, “I have found that determination and a strong mindset can get you anywhere you want to go. As women, we are very special, we have so many challenges from the time we are born until we pass on and yet we accomplish them with grace, stamina and most importantly with love. Should we continue in that vein, we will always succeed in whatever we choose to do.”
“My advice to all women, always believe and trust in your capabilities and your worth because as women we can accomplish anything and everything we set out to do. I am a walking example of that.”