S02E08 Festo SA MD talks global automation, Africa’s potential, and the shift to software solutions

Posted On: March 1, 2023

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S02E08 Festo SA MD talks global automation, Africa’s potential, and the shift to software solutions

In this episode, we discuss what it takes to be part of a world-leading automation services supplier and the need for creativity and innovation in a rapidly changing digital world. We also examine why companies need a different, more agile approach to doing business in Africa, with opportunities for both entry-level automation and high-end Industry 4.0 tech. For businesses who are slow to adapt, the rate at which they will fall behind will be game-changing, Brett explains.



Brett Wallace is the Managing Director and an Executive Committee member at Festo South Africa. He is a C-Suite Executive with over 30 years of vocational experience, but describes his journey to professional success as taking ‘the long way around’.

Because he did not get the required matric pass to go to university, Brett’s parents suggested he take a trade due to his technical interest. He knew that studying would form an important part of his future career, so he took a job as an apprentice millwright, eventually passing his trade test with distinction.

After entering the world of automation, he joined Festo as a junior technical sales rep and used every continuous development opportunity to pursue more technical and management-related studies as he rose through the ranks of this high-performance organisation. Today, he holds a National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Witwatersrand.


00:00 – Introduction

01:56 – Introducing Brett Wallace and his Festo journey

07:30 – Personal qualities that helped Brett navigate his career

08:40 – If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough

11:19 – Festo is more than an automation technology company

14:29 – Industry 4.0: Where to from here?

18:28 – Leadership, learning and innovating in a rapidly changing world

25:20 – Unpacking the culture of professional accountability at Festo

29:51 – How to unleash untapped potential in Africa

34:37 – Automation versus high-end digitisation for the African market

50:32 – On building a personal and professional legacy