BACKSTORY: Momentum Investments CEO Jeanette Marais
We question Jeanette Marais, CEO of Momentum Investments and deputy CEO of MMI Holdings
With which historical figure do you most identify?
Winston Churchill, as he was a contrarian and did not care that his approach was different. He inspires me to be successful.
What are you reading at the moment?
I always read a few books at the same time. I am now reading The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.
Which phrase or word do you most overuse?
"Execute with surgical precision." I use it when there is a big challenge and when I want to convey the message that people should prepare properly. They should not have a "shotgun" approach but choose what they have to do and where they should focus.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Mary Poppins, as she cares about children and there is something magical about her. She can fly, entertain and make everything better for the ones she has to look after.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I am a Free State girl who grew up on a farm and so attended a small school — the same one my father and grandfather went to.
When and where were you happiest?
As I commute to Gauteng every week, weekends have become very precious to me. That’s when I get to spend time with my husband on a farm outside Paternoster, without iPads or cellphones. The simplicity of people who do not care about one’s position at work is refreshing; they are pure and authentic. I am very happy when my four dogs run to greet me and are overjoyed to see me.
Nominate your eighth wonder of the world.
The effect of compound interest — possibly because of my line of work.
What is the best or worst investment you’ve made?
I cashed in my pension when I left my first job at Momentum to buy a house. This makes it arguably one of the most expensive houses in the Cape, if I apply the eighth wonder of the world. If I had known what I know now, I would never have taken out the money.
How do you deal with stress, and what are your top tips for handling it?
I believe in having a healthy body and a healthy mind, and that one should get out and run. I am lucky enough to live in Hout Bay, which has the mountain on the one side and the sea on the other. I do not run alone, but with friends. When else in a busy schedule do you get to spend an hour with your friends?