Meet Sam Ekandjo, CEO of Lithon Developers

Lithon Developers has a new CEO. He’s passionate about the difference well-planned property development can make in the world, but did you know that this hard-working guy also has a 5th Dan black belt in karate, and likes to prepare budgets (just for fun) in his free time? We sat down with Sam to find out more about work, life, and family.

1. Tell us about your background and why you decided to join Lithon?

I have more than 10 years’ experience in property development. I started out as a building contractor and formed my own company while I was still studying. As I gained experience by working on some residential developments, I realised that I wanted to be the developer – the person with the vision, who makes the big-picture decisions. I like to think of myself as an artist and a piece of land is like a canvas. I have the opportunity to imagine and create lifestyles for people. This is why I joined Lithon, and I’m excited about the projects we have in the pipeline!

2. What does a typical day in your role as CEO of Lithon Developers look like?

Meetings and emails! Even though I have a lot of meetings, I try to have them all on two days of the week so that I can get my other work done. My daily tasks are usually aligned to the phase of the projects in our pipeline. For example, preparing proposals, business plans, tenders, packaging drawings, council approvals. The list goes on.  

3. How do you think Lithon’s developers and engineers support each other?

Developers and engineers have complementary roles. A developer has an idea and an engineer makes this idea possible. One thing that engineers are really good at is optimisation. For example, we’ve optimised our current house designs so that they’re more efficient and spacious than our previous designs, and with a lower cost per square metre – all without compromising on quality! 

4. What do you love most about your job?

It’s always exciting and I never know what to expect.

5. What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned during your time at Lithon?

Two key things I’ve been learning at Lithon are teamwork – the importance of collaboration, and having the right systems in place.

6. How do you think engineering and property development can contribute to building a better future for all?

As we plan, design and build our new developments we have a unique opportunity to design a way of living, or a lifestyle for people. This means creating a safe and secure living environment that’s cost-effective, while also being inspiring and beautiful to those that live there. Property development done well and thoughtfully, can enhance people’s lives and give them access to opportunities. 

7. Do you have any favourite projects at Lithon? Why are they favourites?

I don’t have a specific favourite yet but there are some exciting projects in the pipeline. Nkurenkuru is a great project because it’s been like a testing ground for us. We have learnt a lot through the process and will apply those learnings to future projects. Tsumeb Urban Village is a significant project for us too. It’s an agricultural and tourism eco-village which will stimulate economic growth and provide jobs. We’re building the economy of the area first and then only building houses. Outapi is another development that is exciting for me because it’s being done in phases on 60 hectares of virgin land in a prime area. Here we have the opportunity to plan a whole new suburb in Outapi from scratch.

8. Who has been your greatest inspiration in life?

From a foundational point of view, my parents have been a huge inspiration to me throughout my life. From an ‘active’ point of view, my wife is my inspiration since she is the voice in my ear everyday keeping me focused. She also has to put up with me being ‘anti-social’ and grumpy sometimes, especially when I’m focused solely on work, even during my free time. People say she is the better version of me, and they are right! My children (I have four kids ranging from two to 23 years’ old)  inspire me in a passive way because when I look at them, I am reminded why I work so hard.

9. What is something most people don’t know about you?

I don’t like surprises. I am a planner at heart. 

10. What do you get up to while you’re not working?

I go to ‘terrorise’ the weights at the gym twice a day. I do karate and have a 5th Dan black belt. I love to read and also enjoy preparing budgets. Yes, budgets! 🙂