- Pioneering a new diamond world in sorting and valuing
The Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) stands out as a leader among its global counterparts—with cutting-edge technology deployed at its Gaborone facility and remarkable capacity, the company forges ahead of its peers.
However, as is the case with any High Performing Organisation, DTCB acknowledges that continuous improvement remains imperative to deliver increasing value to its shareholders.
The Strategy 2026, implemented in 2022, charts a new course for the company, and with the new strategy, DTCB is changing the way in which it has been doing business for the past decades.
DTCB is a 50/50 Joint Venture partnership between the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers.
It is the world’s largest and most sophisticated rough diamond sorting and valuing operation, with a capacity to sort 45million carats a year.
“When I joined the company some years back in 2019, I said one of the things I want to be judged on is leadership and whether I enabled people to grow. That is it. The technical stuff, I think people can do relatively easily,” Sedireng “Sed” Serumola said in an exclusive interview with The Projects Magazine.
Serumola assumed his role at the end of 2019, only to face the daunting onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the following year. Yet, amidst the chaos,Serumola recognised a silver lining—an occasion to re-evaluate the company’s operational framework. “Covid-19 hit us, but it also gave us an opportunity to look at how we do things,” Serumola explained.
Out of this crucible of change emerged a pivotal decision—to steer the company’s strategy in-house. Serumola elaborated
on this audacious move, noting that it defied the norm of engaging big consultancy companies to do the strategy.
“We decided that we will do it with internal resources. I have been through few strategy developments, I think for my side it was about facilitation and ensuring that the right conversations are in the room, and understanding the context of the environment,” he said.
“It was also about engaging different people and reflecting on the accomplishments and failings of the previous strategy, asking why we were not that successful. We asked ourselves critical questions.”
Amidst the corporate jargon and ubiquitous aspirations of being “world class,” DTCB decided to forge a unique path. The idea was that anyone can be world-class, but at this juncture DTCB needed something more meaningful.
“The very first thing that we did before even asking what we were going to focus on, was around our purpose, and our ambition or vision; ‘After a few debates, we agreed on
the fact that we unlock value and we add sparkle to lives’, Serumola said.
This purpose-driven approach, he explained,
resonates deeply with DTCB’s commitment to the industry, its stakeholders, and the broader community.
The emphasis on “unlocking value” mirrors the company’s dedication to maximizing potential, not just in diamonds but in
the lives it touches.
Furthermore, the promise to “add sparkle
to lives” serves as a testament to DTCB’s recognition of its role in enhancing livelihoods and contributing to the growth
of the community it serves.
“For instance, to value a diamond you look at the 4 C’s. When you look at colour, and you do not look at your colour properly, you can lose value, and thus leaving money on the table! That is why diamond cleaning is very critical aspect of sorting and valuation. That is why we talk about unlocking that value,”
said the Managing Director.
“One of the key principles of a modern Diamond Sorter, is that when you look at the stone (a diamond), you must have “polished outcomes” in mind. This means, when a Diamond Sorter looks at the stone, he or she has to decide on the Model/Cut, and what they can get out of the stone. If you do
not do that properly, it means that you can lose value.”
DTCB’s NEW VISION
DTCB is stepping forward as a catalyst for change through its Strategy 2026. The company is no longer content with being
a participant, it has risen to the challenge of becoming a true industry leader—a visionary force that redefines the essence of diamond sorting and valuation in the world.
DTCB’s NEW VISION
DTCB’s journey is not just about embracing innovation; it’s about setting the innovation agenda. By leveraging advanced technologies, it is not only redefining the sorting and valuation process but also shaping the future of the entire industry.
The audacious approach reaffirms DTCB’s status as a trailblazer, forever committed to pushing the boundaries of possibility.
However, DTCB’s impact transcends innovation; it’s about embracing sustainability as a core principle. The company understands that leadership extends beyond the present moment and demands accountability for the future.
DTCB wants to balance the needs of today with the aspirations of tomorrow, by demonstrating that progress can be both
transformative and responsible.
DTCB’s STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
DTCB, has set its sights on strategic priorities that underscore its commitment to excellence, innovation, and sustainability.
With an unwavering dedication to enhancing Customer Experience, Technology, Organisational Capability, and Sustainability, the company is poised to redefine the industry landscape.
DTCB’s priority is delivering unparalleled customer experiences through delving into customer insights and market dynamics.
The company will provide consistent,
quality assortments that resonate with customers.
Proactively identifying emerging trends and future demands will pave the way for an exceptional customer journey.
Firmly anchored in innovation, DTCB envisions leveraging cutting-edge sorting technology, digital innovations, and data-driven processes.
This drive towards operational efficiency aims to streamline the value chain, responding promptly to customer demands.
The data-driven insights will serve as catalysts for continuous transformation, culminating in swift and intelligent processing.
“As we move forward, one of the things that is coming out is to have information early on, and when building this digitally connected value chain, it will help us such that as diamonds are coming through the pipeline, our customers at De Beers Global Sightholder Sales (DBGSS) and Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) can see early on what is coming in the pipeline,” he said.
“Diamond sorting technology is changing, initially we had a machine that was sorting colour, the other one was sorting model/cut, and the other one was sorting quality/clarity, but new sorting technology has all into one machine.”
Serumola candidly acknowledges the fear that technology may displace jobs, a concern echoed across industries. The integration of advanced technologies can potentially reshape traditional roles,triggering job uncertainties.
“There is fear that the technology will take away the jobs. It is true to a certain extent, but there are also exciting things coming out of this transition, especially for the younger
generation, in that they can be trained into new thinking and new skills.Technology is very important for our future strategy,” he said.
DTCB’s aspiration for high performance centres on cultivating values-based leaders with a global perspective. These leaders,
armed with the right competencies, will drive performance and innovation, reinforcing DTCB’s philosophy of pioneering.
“We must develop people that are highly effective. The idea that you have a job and just do what is required is not good enough. If this country is going to transform. It requires companies like DTCB to ensure that as a team we are highly effective in what we do,” said Serumola.
“Change that is required to move the country forward is not only from the government side. The government has a role to play in terms of policy, but people in positions of responsibility must do the work, we must effect the change!”
Change, be it in the form of initiatives or projects, stands as a catalyst for progress. DTCB has embarked on a comprehensive change management programme, a move
that took flight last year, marked by an assertive push for all managers to undergo a change management programme.
The initiative was DTCB’s commitment to equip its leadership with the skills and mindset necessary to navigate the complexities of change.
“We also looked at our leadership, we reviewed our leadership competency framework, and said, for a high-performance
environment, what are the requisite behaviours so that at the end of day, we can lead to get business results. We went through an organisational review to see if the structures that we had were the right structures to support a HPO culture,”
said the DTCB Managing Director.
DTCB’s commitment to sustainability reverberates through its eco-friendly operations and focus on workplace
safety. It also extends to creating shared value within local communities.
Through embracing a safe and sustainable
green operation, DTCB envisions becoming a beacon for social and environmental change.
MAKING AN IMPACT
DTCB emerges not just as a player in the diamond trade but as a torchbearer for change, forging paths of transformation,
and leaving an indelible mark on Botswana’s diamond legacy.
A cornerstone of DTCB’s ethos is collaboration—a call to action that beckons the community and other companies to join hands.
Serumola said there is need to strive for opportunities that could drive socio-economic spin-offs, enriching the lives
of Botswana’s citizens.
Recognizing the limits of resources,Serumola advocates for setting benchmarks, inspiring others to step forward and make a difference.
“In the bigger scheme of things, DTCB is a small company. It has limited resources, but what I would like us to do as DTCB is do demonstrate what good looks like, because we are not always going to have money due to limited resources. If other companies can come through, that is good for me,” said
As part of delivering impact, DTCB is in partnership with the Ministry of Education for STEM projects and also sponsors
Botswana Football Association’s women’s football. Women football has been gaining prominent since DTCB came on board as a sponsor.
The Women football tournament support
companies like WUSA, which grew from five employees to 25 due to DTCB’s decision to procure kit supplies from them, exemplifies a visionary approach to nurturing local businesses.
The new deal between the Government of Botswana and the De Beers Group, the two shareholders of DTCB, will also have an impact in the local diamond manufacturing industry.
Serumola believes more can be done to create jobs for the citizens in the sector. Currently, the diamond manufacturing
sector thrives with about 40 companies employing around 4,000 people, but Serumola said impact, i.e., more jobs and
bigger economic activity, should be more important as the new Agreement is implemented.
He echoes the imperative of focusing on the employment impact, a lesson learned from countries like India.
He advocates for investing in local talent and training to seize the opportunities within Botswana’s reach, something he has
committed to play a role in through DTCB.
Serumola’s message is clear—a time-bound window exists for Botswana to shape its destiny in the diamond industry.
DTCB, rather than being content with sorting diamonds,aspires to be a catalyst of conversations, discussions that transcend companies and government.
Serumola envisions DTCB playing a role in shaping a collective narrative that
ushers in an era of sustainable growth, collaboration, and empowerment.
“It is our firm commitment to transform this organisation, and transformation is a journey. One of the critical aspects of this transformation is the value that we put on revenue.
Secondly, how are we really influencing the industry for growth? If we are not influencing growth beyond sorting and manufacturing, we are also not being effective! DTCB can
play a more effective role. Whilst we have limited resources, that should not stop us from demonstrating what good looks
like,” said Serumola.
During DTCB’s 50th anniversary celebration, Serumola indicated that through the Transformational Operating Model, DTCB will have the capability to extend its services beyond Debswana production and provide additional contract sorting services to other diamond producers.
Serumola has expressed confidence that in 2024, contract sorting for other
diamond producers will be in place.