ANALYSE THIS: Elite Risk Acceptances’ Christelle Colman
We analyse Christelle Colman, MD at Elite Risk Acceptances
If someone came to you tomorrow with R100m to invest in just one company, which would it be?
I am so blessed with abundance in life and would rather prefer to take a different direction if I have access to this kind of funding. My dream would be to invest this money into a nonprofit organisation with specific focus on developing proactive risk management measures to prevent the devastating fires we see in informal settlements. I believe funding to get the insurance industry to collaborate and invest in manufacturers of fire-retardant paint and fire alarm systems, which can be systematically rolled out to all corners of SA, will make an immensely positive impact on our society.
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to converse in multiple languages. The inability to communicate results in so many unnecessary and avoidable struggles. James Humes said: "The art of communication is the language of leadership." One of the most important talents great leaders possess is the ability to express themselves well. Imagine you can do just that in multiple languages. Powerful.
What was your first job?
I grew up in a very poor home. The first time my name was called for unpaid school and boarding fees over the school intercom, I decided that would also be the last time. I started selling hot dogs from my boarding school room after study time at night. This enabled me to pay my school fees and taught me the art of creating a product, setting the price and making a profit. It really is where it all started for me in business. I was 15 at the time.
If you could fix one thing in SA today, what would it be?
Without a doubt our broken education system. Education is the most powerful weapon we have to change SA and the world. The lack of good education sits at the heart of the majority of our challenges in SA.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?
My first business was backed by a big corporate and I was given the opportunity to buy a 10% stake when we set up the business in 1997. It taught me everything I know about the alignment of interests and paying for a slice of my own future success.
What’s your favourite song?
Non, je ne regrette rien by Edith Piaf.
On what occasion do you lie?
I tell one of the most common lies known to humanity — I often say I am OK when I am maybe not.
What travel experience is on your bucket list?
I would love to rent a tiny apartment for six months in Paris and just live and be in the City of Light.
How much was your first pay cheque, and what did you do with it?
I have always lived beyond my means, so I never really earned just one pay cheque! My first proper pay cheque was R750, which went straight to rent and living expenses.
What’s the worst investment you’ve ever made?
Both disasters manifested themselves this past year: bitcoin and Steinhoff. Hard lessons learnt.
What is your most treasured possession?
They say the most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children. I agree.
Do you own bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies? And why?
Yes, I used to and will not venture there again quickly. I am an early adopter (but I arrived a little late to the cryptoparty). I wanted to understand the intimate workings of cryptocurrency in order to develop an insurance cover launched recently as part of our Old Mutual Insure Elite offering. Money lost but insights gained.