S02E07 Rockwell SA MD on failing fast in the digital world, and people-centric leadership

Posted On: February 15, 2023

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S02E07 Rockwell SA MD on failing fast in the digital world, and people-centric leadership

In this episode, we discuss strategies for success, such as learning to ‘fail fast’, not letting fear hold you back, and Canninah’s goal of turning Rockwell Automation Sub-Saharan Africa into a billion-dollar company.

We discuss:

  • learning to fail fast and move on
  • how tech enables progress and new ways of working
  • visionary, people-centric leadership
  • understanding and aligning with organisational values
  • the importance of mentorship
  • the true measure of success



Canninah Dladla started her working life as one of the few female artisans in the challenging field of  electrical engineering but, hailing from a family driven by entrepreneurship, quickly set her sights on rising to the top by identifying the right mentors to support and guide her on her journey.

Today, she is the Managing Director of Rockwell Automation for Sub-Saharan Africa, responsible for good governance, business development, customer relationship management and driving Rockwell’s growth in the electrical engineering and industrial automation sector.

As someone who thrives on change, Canninah believes that technology is an enabler of great progress but that success in the ever-changing digital world depends on one’s ability to be open-minded to new ways of thinking and doing things. For Rockwell Automation, this means driving the concept of the Connected Enterprise, by connecting  people, products and solutions across the globe.

Describing her leadership style as people-centric, Canninah aims to build a legacy by taking others with her on the business journey and mentoring them, in turn, to achieve their own career dreams.

Canninah holds a Bachelors’ degree in Business Administration from the University of Johannesburg, as well as an Electrical and Electronics Engineering degree from the University of the Witwatersrand.


00:00 – Introduction

01:26 – Responsibilities as MD

03:04 – Entrepreneurial roots and Canninah’s career path

06:45 – The absence of female role models

08:22 – Overcoming fear and gender stereotypes

10:26 – Seeing the bigger picture in organisational leadership

14:36 – Understanding generational differences in the workplace

16:27 – What it means to fail fast

20:49 – Proving yourself as a woman in the working world

26:38 – Sacrifice and navigating the work-life balance

30:56 – Overcoming obstacles and the value of support

34:19 – The digital world and connected enterprise

39:29 – Canninah’s wishes for Rockwell’s future

41:25 – Being fearless

47:00 – Final thoughts for young girls