5 January, 2023

Strategy Beyond the Numbers

By: Catherine Domingo | Go Solo Publication, New York

Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Roshni Gajjar, founder and CEO of StratAstute Consulting.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

StratAstute Consulting is a boutique management consulting company that specialises in strategy, strategy-to-execution and related services, including strategic agility, sustainability, resilience and high-performance leadership. Our objectives are to help businesses and individuals to unlock their highest potential, cultivate a growth mindset and make a contribution through purpose-driven performance. StratAstute's approach to sustainability integrates the 4 P's: Purpose - Performance - People - Profits. The fifth, Passion, is in our DNA – we love what we do to shape our clients' success stories. Our approach aims to make strategic planning a practical tool that directs day-to-day focus so that longer-term outcomes can be achieved with reduced risks and with more confidence.

The business is based in South Africa, with clients based in South Africa and internationally. Our target market is any medium, large or listed corporate or commercial organisation that has reached a strategic choice point, requiring leaders to develop, decide on and execute fit-for-purpose strategies. We also work with SMEs that are in the expansion, scale-up or innovation phase. We choose to work with clients who are aligned with our values and who have an appetite for change so that we can deliver what is in the best interest of the business and its stakeholders.

There are four service streams:

  1. StratCapital - strategy development, business plans, financial sustainability, ESG strategies, and risk management
  2. StratEx 4.0 - strategy execution support through consulting/advisory services and our coaching products
  3. StratCom - strategy articulation, corporate narrative/reporting and investor relations support
  4. StratConnect - facilitation of strategy workshops, related training sessions for leaders, the Lift As We Rise podcast and keynote speaker engagements.

The Resilience Success Formula and High-Performance Leadership coaching products are tools to support effective strategy execution, resilient performance and sustained success. For large companies, corporates and organisations, our services include risk management and ESG training/coaching, as well as executive coaching. Our strategy consulting work is sector agnostic. We have established trusted client partnerships in the following industries: healthcare, pharmaceuticals, financial services (insurance), manufacturing/industrials, precious metals and automotive.

StratAstute Consulting supports the Sustainable Development Goals. StratAstute Future Ones is a not-for-profit company serving the purpose of fueling the passion and potential of next-generation South Africans to reach and succeed at the pinnacle of their dream STEM careers (SGD 8) in motorsport and related value-chain industries (SGD 11). The flagship programme supplements maths and science theory at participating schools (SDG 4 and 5) through the engaging, exciting, and high-performance global competition, F1 in Schools.

Tell us about yourself

My consulting work began in September 2015 when I received an emergency call-up to consult back to my former employer for six months. Being in a new executive position, I did this between 6pm and midnight daily. Fortunately, I don't need an eight-hour sleep routine, so it worked out well. StratAstute Consulting was subsequently registered as a private company in November 2015, to eliminate any perceived conflicts of interest.

Midway 2016, two local legacy companies contacted me for advice on a cost-cutting strategy in response to the economic headwinds in South Africa. Making things smaller is not my A-Game, and fortunately, both parties kept an open mind when we evaluated the scenarios. Fast forward eighteen months later, both companies landed up expanding and diversifying their businesses, empowering people in the organisation to support the growth. With just one day per month granted to do private consulting work, I felt energised at the end of these intense but impactful consulting days. I resolved to steer my career path accordingly. At that same time, emerging blockchain and digital technologies caught my attention and I wanted to work with business model adaptation strategies. In February 2018, I took quite a big risk to resign from full-time employment and build StratAstute Consulting from 1 June 2018.

I come from a family of business owners and professionals. From the age of six, I chose to work in the family business above idle play time over weekends and vacations, with the aim of earning pocket money to fund my book collection and to build enough savings to open a bank account. I enjoyed interacting with customers, observing my dad negotiate pricing with suppliers, sitting in on meetings with the bank manager, and making sure the right stock was on the right shelves for customers during my shift. I rotated between three family businesses and keenly observed what makes each business "tick." It struck me that each business had a unique culture that attracted different types of customers. My dad was a horologist, which attracted watch and clock connoisseurs, specialist and suppliers from all over the country. I was intrigued by the way in which shared passion connects all sorts of people and their stories. This was during the peak of apartheid. My mother was an estate agent. I observed her client relationship management skills and her marketing plans. I admired her meticulous approach to prepare for client meetings, show houses and deal negotiations. From the various family businesses, I learned mostly how attention to detail, consistent professionalism and sincere relationship management bridge diversity and social structures. It is a delicate art, underpinned by respect and trust. One could say that entrepreneurship, relationship management, and passion-driven work are in my DNA.

My purpose is to help businesses and individuals become the best versions of themselves and make a positive contribution to lifting others. Seeing people I work with grow, transform and expand is exceptionally fulfilling, although this requires patience because it is a long-term game. Mine is a mind that loves to solve the challenges that complexity presents, see through the mud and join the big dots. My motivation comes from practicing gratitude and taking ownership of my strengths, which I try to apply in the most useful way, and for the incredible people that I connect with through my work. Each client is unique. Success means something different in each business. That requires me to tailor the consulting and coaching approach to deliver client satisfaction. The diversity offers room for creative thinking and problem-solving with different minds - bridging the gap between the current state and the highest potential state is what motivates me most. Each day I try to do one thing that I really enjoy doing to reset, recharge and realign with my Purpose.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

This is a tough question, as I tend to be a critical thinker when it comes to self-evaluation. I believe StratAstute Consulting has steadily but intentionally established a trusted brand identity and presence across our eco-system. We hang our hat on being a values and purpose-driven consultancy and executing our 5P's approach in a way that is most beneficial to clients. This has been achieved despite the pre and post-COVID headwinds, which have been exceptionally challenging for South African businesses and citizens.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I have had to make some tough calls to uphold our values and to walk away from clients and business partners who apply a very different business ethos. As an independent female business owner, I've had to climb a steep learning curve  to be firm and place due value on the quality of my work when it comes to contract negotiations. These calls were necessary. Entrepreneurship is a long-term game and reputation is the golden thread that knits a sustainable business model, builds brand equity and garners stakeholder trust.

I have learned, the hard way, that many talk about collaboration, but very few practice fair give and take. The general business culture is still very much around competition, be it subtle or predatory. Growth and scale-up phases are particularly challenging for emerging business owners. Market penetration and profitability depend on income certainty, right pricing, low credit risk and high cash conversion - tough KPIs to meet in recessionary times where blue chip and large-cap companies operate behind strong moats. Corporates and policymakers have a huge role to play in enabling the success of emerging entrepreneurs so that there is sustainability in the economic value chain. Else widened economic participation and wealth creation are out of reach in many countries where unemployment rates are high.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Entrepreneurs start, run and grow at the same time and often with all types of resource constraints, mostly time and cash flow.

  1. How you start is how you finish. Define the minimum viable product/service supported by non-negotiable decision-making criteria and unambiguous business values which you apply consistently.
  2. Run in one clear direction. Have a strategy. Work to defined goals. Analyse performance data. Manage the controllables astutely.
  3. Grow with resilience. Align Performance and Profit targets to strategic Purpose and, through your business growth, lift People as you rise.

Where can people find you and your business?


This article was published in Go Solo, a digital blog/magazine that highlights the amazing stories of brilliant entrepreneurs and business owners, based in New York. Strategy Beyond the Numbers - StratAstute Consulting ( The featured story was not paid for, solicited nor promoted by StratAstute.

Article written by Media/Publication