Email Loet de Swart at midnight and there is a damn good chance that he will respond immediately. Why? Because he epitomizes the Always Active way of life – he’s always switched on! The 40+-year-old Chief Executive Officer of Always Active Technologies lives the company name and his cellphone is never far from reach. Loet founded the company in 2001 with Rob Fisher (now retired), Greg Mahlknecht and Richard de Oude who joined the team as a Senior Developer and shareholder in year 1 to complete the core team.
Born in Holland, Loet’s father was a property developer with Loet’s mom as his right hand in business. Loet completed his schooling at Thomas More and, afterwards, tried his hand at running a number of small but successful businesses and did a spell in the Police Force, as part of his National Service. Thereafter, Loet set out to travel the world and dabbled in a wide range of business environments, learning more than he could’ve imagined along the way. Loet worked in the Middle East for a while, including for ABN Amro Bank as a researcher and for the Kahlifa family (the Royal Family of Bahrain) as a technology specialist putting together joint venture projects.
On returning to South Africa to visit, he met Michelle and promptly decided to stay, setting up AAT with his business partners, Richard de Oude, Rob Fisher and Greg Mahlknecht. As the Information Technology and Mobile landscapes have matured and changed over the years, Loet works to encourage and create genuine opportunities for clients to grow and expand by harnessing the power of these technologies.
Beyond the demands of being CEO for AAT, Loet’s life revolves around his three girls – his wife, Michelle and their daughters Alexandra and Izabella. Loet lists his life-defining moment as the one where he settled down with Michelle to raise a family. While Izabella has rather serious disabilities, Loet confesses that he’s learnt more from her than anything else in life – including how not to sweat the small stuff, help people who can’t help themselves and NEVER to judge people who are different.
He believes three words best describe the people who work at AAT: motivated, disciplined and happy. “We like to employ people who are able to manage themselves and their projects so that we are not required to micro-manage or police anyone, this is not because we can’t but we just feel that if we do then people are not working to their potential. “I would say that the ethos at AAT is one of a relaxed environment where our people are given all the opportunity to help build AAT and a future for themselves where performance is rewarded.” Although he’s a recent convert to the Android way of life, Loet is platform-agnostic and believes that each mobile OS will have its heyday. What counts is how they keep up with an ever-expanding base of savvy customers.