If someone came to you tomorrow with R100m to invest in just one company, which would it be?

Taking a long-term view, I would invest the money in Microsoft. It has established a virtually unassailable global position in enterprise productivity and networking software, which has recently been augmented by the establishment of a leading position in the provision of cloud computing services to its enterprise customers. It has also recently managed to successfully migrate most of its customers from paying one-off licence fees for its products to paying an ongoing annual subscription. While none of this might sound as exciting as the sexy Internet stocks of today, the business is well established, profitable and cash generative. I’d sleep soundly knowing that my investment is steadily compounding away without having to worry about any of the unknowns that might still trip up some of today’s high flyers.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to play a musical instrument really well. At school I took piano lessons for a short while, but all I learnt was that, when it comes to music I have 10 thumbs.

If you could turn back time, what would you change in your life?

I would’ve explored the world at a far younger age and would’ve worked overseas. I first went overseas in my early 30s and have since been very fortunate to travel quite a lot. In my opinion the benefits of exposure to different cultures and societies is invaluable to your understanding of how the world works and where you fit in.

Name a place you’ve been to that lived up to the hype.

Scotland. It has a fascinating history, ancient buildings, awe-inspiring natural beauty and wonderful people who love golf. Also, as a redhead I felt quite at home.

Do you own bitcoin? And why?

No, I don’t. Though I might be persuaded that the underlying blockchain technology will have some useful application in the future, I think that cryptocurrencies possess all the hallmarks of a classic Ponzi scheme. The particular genius of bitcoin is that it might prove to be the first truly global Ponzi scheme and the true identity of its mastermind may never be known. Time will tell.

How much was your first pay cheque, and what did you do with it?

It was something like R375 and was spent mostly on beer, petrol and tennis racquet strings.

Apple or Samsung (or Nokia)?

I resisted getting an Apple phone until Nokia finally collapsed. Silly me. I just recently got my second iPhone, which can hold my entire music collection — and I’m hooked.

What was your most recent purchase?

A Jo-Jo tank to collect rain water. It might be money wasted because it’s still empty.

What’s the worst investment you’ve made?

I bought some shares in Choice Holdings in the late 1990s. It was a local producer of broiler chickens with very aggressive growth plans and a smooth-talking CEO. After a meteoric start, it soon crashed and burned. I salvaged about 10c in the rand from the liquidation and learnt a valuable lesson about investing in biological assets and listening to bullish CEOs.

What was your first job?

My first paying job was as a part-time tennis coach.

What’s your favourite song?

I spend a lot of time listening to music, so it is impossible for me to choose an all-time favourite. Right now, I’d say "Call Me the Breeze" by JJ Cale. The original version instantly transports me back to my happy 1970s school days. I also like the recent version released by John Mayer. Next week it will be something else.

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