We question Geoff Whyte - CEO of Nando’s Southern Africa.
Nominate your eighth wonder of the world.
Pravin Gordhan might just qualify. His integrity, resolve and strength of character over the past year are an example to us all.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Beauty. Who you are and what you do are far more important than how you look. As the old Castle Milk Stout payoff line goes – “True greatness comes from within.”
What is your biggest indulgence?
My wife tells me that it’s buying gifts for other people — which does give me a lot of pleasure. A smaller personal indulgence is chocolate— but after a few years working for Cadbury, I think that was unavoidable.
What was your first job?
Planning analyst in the UK headquarters of ExxonMobil.
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Do your homework — information is everything when negotiating.
What is your biggest regret?
Generally, I like to learn from decisions, good and bad and look forward, but if I had to pick out a regret, I think it would be that I put myself under a lot of pressure career-wise for many years. That led to a number of personal sacrifices that, when I look back, probably weren’t worth it. Having said that, whatever choices I’ve made have led me to where I am now — and I’m very happy.
Is there such a thing as “enough money” and, if so, how much is it?
One of the founding principles of economics is the law of diminishing marginal utility — which basically says that when you have a reasonable amount of something, any more that you acquire becomes of increasingly less value. That’s particularly true of money. I think if you are lucky enough to live somewhere decent, have a reasonable car, the money to put your kids in a good school and some spare cash to travel a bit when the fancy takes you, that’s pretty much all you need.
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
James Bond is cool — he eats badly, drinks like a fish but stays in amazing shape. He is fearless, never gets stressed, is the king of the witty one-liner and gets to drive some cool cars. What’s not to like?
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Dan Ariely’s new book, Payoff. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a book that I thought “everyone should read before they die” but, business-wise, Good to Great by Jim Collins is excellent.
What’s the worst airport you’ve been in?
Swaziland International is special — more wooden fencing and a hut than an airport. Accra and Lagos are also not stopovers I’d recommend.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
My colour vision is less than perfect. I blagged my way through a few years in marketing keeping that quiet, for obvious reasons.