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Saks Ntombela has his leg up on a couch at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg. An operation brought on by a nasty fall while running has left his right leg in a brace. "My colleagues who cycle are giving me a hard time because I always say cycling is dangerous," he chuckles. Ntombela’s appointment this week as CEO of Hollard Insurance Group is a welcome development in an industry that has struggled to transform at the pace the country needs. He takes over from Nic Kohler, who has been at the helm for 10 years and with the company for 20. Kohler plans to work with Yellowwoods, the investment company of Hollard’s majority shareholder, the Enthoven family. Ntombela agrees that black representation at executive level in financial services is limited, but he believes transformation goes far beyond employment equity. For him, it’s more important to have difficult conversations and share experiences across racial barriers to build a company in which everyone feels they can c...

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