BACKSTORY: Philip Morris’s Marcelo Nico
We question MD of Philip Morris Southern Africa and Indian Ocean islands Marcelo Nico
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Ulysses, a man of meaning, a voice of reason, he constantly travelled, not only physically but intellectually.
What is your biggest regret?
I should have bought a motorbike way earlier to avoid the commuting traffic in Cape Town. Today I save at least an hour every day.
What’s the worst airport you’ve been in?
Charles de Gaulle, in Paris. I just think the customer service can really improve. I try to avoid it.
How do you deal with stress? What are your top tips for handling stress?
Deep breathing, meditation and going out for a short walk. Doing sport is an outlet to help me deal with stress.
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Always be empathetic, even when disagreeing. Put the relationship first.
What was your first job?
When I was 19, I worked as a visual merchandiser in supermarkets while I was doing my BA degree, attending university at night.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I was born in Argentina, the land of beef lovers. Anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to try my asado (braai) is really missing out.
Tell us about a hidden gem in SA that not many people know about.
I am reluctant to share it but Churchhaven inside the West Coast National Park is a magical place where the warm water of the salt lagoon meets the brightest stars. You can rent a lovely house for a peaceful weekend away.
On what occasion do you lie?
Every time I discuss unicorns with my six-year-old daughter.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
At the top of my list would be confidence. Some healthy self-doubt coupled with curiosity would lead us to explore beyond the obvious.
What are you reading at the moment? What’s the one book everyone should read before they die?
I am reading Time to Think by Nancy Kline; I am obsessed with bringing back the ability to pause and reflect — for myself, my team and my organisation. "Everything we do depends for its quality on the thinking we do first." Everyone should read Life is a Dream by Calderón de la Barca, it beautifully illustrates the timeless conflict between will and fate, and dreams and reality.
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Luke Skywalker. I was blown away by his marvellous journey from farm boy to greatest Jedi.
Which phrase or word do you most overuse?
We can do it.
Which living person do you most admire?
Lionel Messi. It may sound banal, but apart from the fact that he is one of the best soccer players ever, what I admire most is that he’s such a humble family man.
Nominate your eighth wonder of the world.
I love cultural festivals, I would say the carnival in San Salvador, Bahia (Brazil). It is an explosion of music, arts, energy and love involving 2.5m people and lasts six full days.