George Herman is a director and the CIO of Citadel
If someone came to you tomorrow with R100m to investing just one company, what would it be?
Vestas Wind Systems in Denmark. They are the world leader in wind turbines and wind could provide the entire world’s energy needs in a totally clean way.
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to answer question 1 one correctly! I’m 50, so this refers more to experience than talent.
What was your first job?
A bond trader at a Discount House in the late 1980s. In those days, it was wild!
What’s your biggest regret?
Trying to know all the answers before attempting something innovative. By the time you know all there is to know, somebody else has already done it while learning on the fly.
What was your worst investment mistake?
Becoming bullish on SA bonds at the time of the 1994 election. The emotion of the new SA blinded me to the reality of global financial market moves. I lost everything!
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?
Equity market participants like to boast about 10-baggers but in the derivative world, we make multiples more than that! During several market crises opportunities arose which led to enormous derivative trading profits.
If you could fix one thing in SA today, what would it be?
SA has many problems, most of which will be solved or alleviated by solid, inclusive, economic growth. I would like to get the public and private sectors to work together to create an investor-friendly environment that fosters economic growth.
How much was your first pay cheque and what did you do with it?
R2,500 and I paid off debt … boring but true.
If you found a lottery ticket tomorrow that had won US$100m, what would you do?
I’m an investor, so I’ll just continue doing exactly what I do now. It would afford me the opportunity, though, to make a really meaningful difference in the lives of many underprivileged people. I’m passionate about helping people who want to be helped.
What’s your favourite song?
"Because it’s Love" by The Kelly Family. The line, "We climb a step every day and every night" reminds me that life is not about huge leaps forward, but rather about taking one step at a time. Before you know it, you’ve reached heights you couldn’t have imagined when you started.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I braai more meat than what is required for a meal. Everything about a braai is special … the people, the ambience, the smells, the laughter. All this needs to be celebrated with the best possible food, done in the best possible way, and when there are leftovers, you get to enjoy it again!
Name a place you’ve been to that lived up to the hype.
Tuscany, Italy. It’s even better than they said and undoubtedly one of the top culinary regions in the world.
On what occasions do you lie?
Never! When you lie, you have to make an effort to remember the lie. What a waste!