27 August is a very special day at Swipe iX, as it marks the Swipeaversary of one of our C-level execs, Hendri Lategan. Today, Hendri celebrates his fifth Swipeaversary as the Chief Operations Officer at Swipe iX. To celebrate this occasion, we’ve asked our COO a few questions, shining a light on the incredible man behind the title.
I started my career in the digital industry selling online banner ads for a technology blog. Luckily the company that decided to take me in despite my complete lack of experience was a rapidly growing startup. As the company grew so did my team, which meant I very quickly needed to take on more leadership responsibilities as the Commercial Manager, followed soon after by General Manager of the entire publishing division. This allowed me to quickly learn some important lessons in managing people, budgets, schedules etc. From there, I was approached by a digital development agency to become their COO, also a rapidly growing and ambitious business, presenting me with an even larger scope of management functions as they expanded. A few years later, I decided it was time to try my hand at starting my own business. With experience in both publishing and digital development industries, the obvious choice was creating a digital content marketing agency. After less than a year and some modest success, I had a knock on the door from Leo Redelinghuys, Swipe’s MD, who asked if I would be interested in joining as their CEO. After a bit of back and forth, it was decided that we would absorb my fledgling startup into Swipe where we would continue running the content marketing operation but with me at the helm of the entire company. And the rest is history. When Swipe was acquired by New Media in 2020, my title was updated to COO to be more in line with the larger organisational structure but my role remains the same to this day: focussing on a broad spectrum of business functions, most notably the people, processes and profits (usually in that order).
There are too many to count! Over the years we’ve had the privilege of working with so many different businesses within a wide range of industry verticals – from startups to massive blue chip enterprises all over the world. If I had to pick one of the most memorable ones, I would say it has to be some of the projects we did for Discovery Channel in the early days of my career at Swipe. I was so thrilled to be working with such a recognisable international brand on really exciting initiatives where they gave us a ton of creative freedom in our concept and execution. One that comes to mind in particular was their employee innovation portal where we were tasked to build a bespoke platform for Discovery Channel employees from all over the world to submit ideas of their own moonshot projects. It came complete with user profiles, commenting, sharing, favoriting and all the other bells and whistles you can imagine.
What motivates me most is the pursuit of building a central “operating system” for our business. It’s something I’m not sure would ever be fully attainable but the idea of continuously architecting every fundamental operational mechanism that drives and governs the entire company’s day-to-day workflows in an efficient, consistent and predictable way is something that really excites me.
#SwipeFam is all about our people. Clients come and go, all projects eventually come to an end. It’s not what we do but who we do it with that really matters.
Once at a friend’s dinner party, I spent the better part of an evening debating the meaning of life with Ser Davos from Game of Thrones. My friend, who worked at the time as a stunt double on the show, knew Liam Cunningham who played Ser Davos and invited him over for dinner when he was in the country. We struck up a conversation and got super deep into debating existentialism and determinism.
Hendri is an inspirational leader, embodying the words of his favourite quote: “We lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example”. Thank you for being an extraordinary addition (and leader to) the Swipe family. We look forward to celebrating many more Swipeaversaries with you!