Last December, former investment banker Heather Sonn parachuted into what must be a shoo-in for the worst job in SA today: chair of teetering furniture retailer Steinhoff International. It was at the height of the hurricane, 10 days after CEO Markus Jooste quit and the company admitted to unspecified "accounting irregularities", which sparked an 82% slide in its value. It was the most rapid destruction in value at a JSE-listed company in recent memory, as more than R160bn was erased within days — much of it from pension funds. "Basically, it was your worst nightmare," Sonn told the Financial Mail this week. "To walk into a situation like that, and realise what had happened, is not something I’d wish on anyone. To have that sense of betrayal of trust from senior members of management is just horrible." To describe it as a baptism of fire for the 46-year-old, who began her career working in the cauldron that was Merrill Lynch in New York in 1997, doesn’t reflect the full immensity of ...

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