BACKSTORY: Absa Group’s Bongiwe Gangeni
We question deputy CEO of retail & business bank at Absa Group Bongiwe Gangeni
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Be authentic and true to your values.
What was your first job?
I was a pharmacist intern.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
R4,000. I gave some to my parents and spent some on a few personal items. I also managed to save a little.
What was the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Always believe it’s possible.
What are you reading at the moment? What’s the one book everyone should read before they die?
I am currently reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and definitely recommend Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
Your eighth wonder of the world?
Doing nothing — be it self-reflection, meditating or reconnecting with oneself.
Which phrase do you most overuse?
"It’s really, really …"
What is your biggest regret?
Not always believing "I can".
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I thoroughly enjoy a good laugh.
What has been your worst purchase?
I bought a Kindle, despite being a traditional reader. I used it once but continued buying hardcopy books.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
Investing in property.
On what occasion do you lie?
When my six-year-old son asks me tricky questions.
How would you fix SA’s job crisis?
Provide the best education for young people and create an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive.
Your biggest indulgence?
Is there such a thing as "enough money"?
Nope, that doesn’t exist.
What ’s the most overrated virtue?
Networking — it has to be focused to be meaningful.
When and where were you happiest?
When I took my mother on a trip to Europe (she had never been abroad) to celebrate her 60th birthday, and, years later, when my son was born.
How do you deal with stress?
I talk about it.
Which living person do you most admire?
Which talent would you most like to have?
Your most treasured possession?
What’s the lowest depth of misery?
What would you tell your younger self that would impress her?
I made it through sheer determination and hard work.
What’s the one movie you could watch over and over again?
The Pursuit of Happyness.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career?
Yes — I gave up being a pharmacist.