How PetroCONNECT Streamlined Operations with Metavolve

Petroconnect Mark Harper Sbonelo Mbatha

Growing a business in the fast-paced South African energy sector isn’t a walk in the park. PetroCONNECT, now a leader in the industry, faced this challenge head-on. Their team had to keep up with the rising demand, and hiring the right people became a make-or-break task. The founders, Mark Harper and Sbonelo Mbatha, were deeply involved in everything, from hiring to day-to-day operations. Being hands-on made scaling tough and they knew they needed a better, scalable approach to sustain their growth.

That’s when they turned to Metavolve for help in shaping their business strategy and building a strong, capable team.


Building a High-Performing Team for Rapid Growth

PetroCONNECT’s founders were eager to propel their business forward but realised that they couldn’t sustain this pace by being involved in all operational and hiring aspects. They recognised the need for a scalable structure that would allow them to delegate responsibilities, especially in recruitment, to attract and retain top talent efficiently.

I thought we had a successful business, we had a great concept, strong financials and saw year-over-year growth. We’ve been through a few growth spurts and with each one, I find myself getting pulled into wearing more hats and needing to direct more people.
Mark Harper
CEO & Co-Founder, PetroCONNECT


Building a High-Performing Team for Rapid Growth

Metavolve embarked on a 9-month journey to support PetroCONNECT in transforming its structure and strategy. Our team helped the co-founders understand that sustainable growth required more than just filling roles; it required a comprehensive strategy and a well-structured team. Together, we took a holistic approach to address the challenges the energy company faced:

1. Identifying the Pain Points

The first step was to gain a thorough understanding of PetroCONNECT’s pain points and growth aspirations. Metavolve engaged in extensive discussions with Mark Harper and Sbonelo Mbatha to identify the specific challenges they faced with their team and existing structure. We explored the co-founders’ vision for the company’s future and the goals they wanted to achieve in the short and long terms.

2. Developing a Key Hire Recruitment Toolkit

Since PetroCONNECT’s founders reached out to Metavolve with need to attract and retain the right talent, we created a customized Key Hire Recruitment Toolkit. This toolkit was designed for and with them, enabling them to define the ideal candidate profile, develop structured interview questions, and streamline the hiring process. It was proved to be a powerful resource, ensuring that hiring decisions were data-driven and aligned with the company’s strategic goals.

Having Metavolve involved has brought more structure to our recruitment and has made hiring decisions a lot easier for me. We've found it extremely valuable in mapping and getting a better view of certain job roles. We’ve thought a lot more about the roles we need and the type of people who will suit that role - not just from an experience or skill perspective but also from a psychological view. Unpacking this puts things into perspective and adds a lot of clarity. It was a sobering experience for me.
Mark Harper
CEO & Co-Founder, PetroCONNECT

3. Uncovering the Core Problem

During the initial phase of our process, it became evident that PetroCONNECT’s internal environment was not conducive to growth. So, Cameron meticulously mapped out the existing structure to identify the core problem hindering growth. Here it was: over half of the company reported directly to the co-founders, leading to operational inefficiencies and overworked leaders.

4. Defining a Clear Strategic Direction

With the core problem identified, our team guided PetroCONNECT in clarifying their strategic direction. We conducted a comprehensive SWOT analysis to identify what needed to be worked on, and taken advantage of, in the business. Then, we combined the strategic direction with the SWOT to set clear goals and objectives that aligned with the company’s mission and vision. This strategic clarity provided the compass to guide PetroCONNECT’s growth.

I’ve never been through an exercise like this before and it’s blown me away. I have a huge appreciation for the work that goes behind putting together the culture, vision, mission and goals. I’ve learnt how to properly construct these and know that it’s the crux of our strategic direction. Walking into the session with Brett and Cam, I had a blurry almost misty picture of where the business was headed. I felt a little burnt out and had a sense of angst. I walked away from the session with clarity and a deep sense of comfort. I know exactly what to solve and how to go about solving it.
Sbonelo Mbatha
Director & Co-Founder, PetroCONNECT

5. Redesigning the Team Structure

Armed with a clear strategic direction, Metavolve’s team set out to design a structure that was built for scale and strategy. Cameron collaborated closely with Mark and Sbonelo to redesign the teams and create new roles that aligned with the strategic goals. This included:

  • a new Business Unit Leader;
  • another managerial role to manage a core team;
  • some additional operational roles to take on new clients;
  • as well as a Head of People & Culture to internalise their recruitment and onboarding, and improve their people management and development capabilities.

6. Finding the Right Leader

To achieve sustainable growth, Metavolve is always committed to make their clients self-reliant by helping them internalise the right capabilities at the right time.

As PetroCONNECT was scaling quickly, they needed the right person to manage its HR needs; someone who could help with the growth but to also bring stability and development to the company. In the absence of this person, the founders were doing most of the recruitment and onboarding themselves. They also had to get involved in almost all people or performance management conversations. They were spending as much (if not more) time on HR as they were on leading the business.

So, Metavolve’s mission here was to help them find the best person to take on these responsibilities. No compromise was made in this process, from the job ad to psychometric assessments to the interviews. Once they found the person that ticked all the boxes, Cameron helped them out by crafting the HR strategy and priorities by considering:

  • what needs urgent attention
  • what foundations need to be put in place
  • what elements need to be built over time

Cameron also spent time supporting the new hire with regular meetings. This form of mentoring is necessary for them to understand the business and the culture. But, it is even more crucial for them to start building out stronger and better processes and capabilities for scale.


Doubled Headcount with a Clear Strategy and Solid Foundations

1. Doubled Headcount with Right Talent

The implementation of the Key Hire Recruitment Toolkit allowed PetroCONNECT to double its headcount with the best-suited individuals for their key roles. The addition of a dedicated Head of People & Culture marked a turning point for PetroCONNECT. The new hire brought stability and expertise to HR management, relieving the co-founders of burdensome recruitment and onboarding responsibilities. With a strong focus on employee development, the company fostered a positive work culture, ensuring that each team member was aligned with the company’s mission and values.

2. Clear Strategy for Future Direction

Through a meticulous strategic planning process, PetroCONNECT gained a clearer vision of its future direction. By combining the company’s mission and vision with its growth strategy, including expansion into Johannesburg and Cape Town, they identified the key areas that required focus and attention. With the strategic direction now well-defined, the entire team was aligned and committed to achieving common goals.

Working through this process, I realised that we’ve been working hard - not working smart. Our business is a difficult one to understand as there are multiple business units scaling at the same time. I felt like things were becoming a mess but from the session, I now know how to treat the different teams, structure our lives better and go about my days in a healthier way. I’ve learnt how to structure a strategic setting process and I can see where the gaps have been in our business and I know how to close these gaps. We now have a clear strategic plan and know that there’s a way forward. We’re able to cascade this down to the rest of the team so that they know what the plan is. We’ve got everything that’s in our heads, down into writing and have structured it in a way that makes sense.
Mark Harper
CEO & Co-Founder, PetroCONNECT

3. Purposeful Structure for Scalability

One of the most transformative changes was the redesign of PetroCONNECT’s organisational structure. Previously, Mark and Sbonelo found themselves buried in operational tasks due to an absence of clear reporting lines and departmental divisions. With Metavolve’s expertise, a new structure was crafted, facilitating better delegation and streamlining decision-making processes. The revised structure provided each team member with a defined role, empowering them to contribute effectively to the company’s growth.

4. Improved Decision-Making and Time Management

The newfound clarity and strategic direction significantly improved decision-making across the organization. With roles and responsibilities well-defined, Mark and Sbonelo could now focus on driving the business forward and overseeing functions rather than getting bogged down in operational details. This enhanced efficiency translated into better time management and greater productivity.

5. Confidence in Scaling and Growth

Metavolve’s strategic interventions instilled confidence in the co-founders and the entire team regarding PetroCONNECT’s growth trajectory. With a clear strategy and purposeful structure in place, the company was well-equipped to handle the demands of scaling and expansion without compromising on quality and performance.

Walking into the session with Brett and Cam, I had a blurry almost misty picture of where the business was headed. I felt a little burnt out and had a sense of angst. I walked away from the session with clarity and a deep sense of comfort. I know exactly what to solve and how to go about solving it.
Sbonelo Mbatha
Director & Co-Found, PetroCONNECT


Metavolve’s approach to PetroCONNECT’s transformation was not only about providing quick fixes but about instilling a culture of growth, strategic thinking, and effective talent management. By addressing the co-founders’ pain points, clarifying the strategic direction, and redesigning the team structure, Metavolve enabled PetroCONNECT to thrive in the competitive energy industry.

Like PetroCONNECT’s co-founders, you can take the first step to elevate yourself out of operations and focus on your next stage of growth with Metavolve’s holistic methodology. Contact our team today!

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