BACKSTORY: Heineken SA MD Ruud van den Eijnden
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
That is of course my wife, Irene. She complements me, supports and challenges me; she simply makes me a better person. She has made quite a few sacrifices in her own professional career in following me around the world and raising a wonderful family.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Thank you for Being Late by Thomas Friedman, about the acceleration in technology, globalisation and climate change and the impact it has on all of us. The book shows the huge opportunities, but also the risks if we do not adapt.
What’s the worst airport you’ve been in?
The airport itself was not so bad, but once I missed a flight from Bujumbura (Burundi) because the plane left one hour before schedule.
Which phrase or word do you most overuse?
"Let me draw it for you"; I have the habit of summarising or facilitating discussions on a whiteboard, even when there is (to be honest) no real need for it. However, it helps me to structure my thoughts.
What was your first job?
I started as a management trainee at Heineken in 1994, selling soft drinks to gas stations.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Singing. I love music and love to sing along, but I am a terrible singer.
What is your biggest indulgence?
An ice-cold Heineken at Friday drinks.
What is your most treasured possession?
My two Rhodesian ridgebacks, beautiful and intelligent dogs. They always succeed in getting me into their world.
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Be hard on the issue and content in itself, but softer on the relationship. Too often deals do not happen because we hurt people unnecessarily. Burning bridges won’t serve you in the long run.
Tell us about a hidden gem in SA that not many people know about.
I have visited De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Western Cape twice and was blown away by its serene beauty and remoteness. This is one of the places where you can escape the busy life and touch base with yourself and your loved ones.
What is your biggest regret?
My father passed away suddenly a few years ago, much too young. I wish I could have spent more time with him, to get to know him better as I realise now that we are much more alike than I thought some years ago.