BACKSTORY: AfriSam’s Richard Tomes
We question Richard Tomes, executive head of marketing for AfriSam
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
It’s not just about the financials, there has to be a cultural fit and a longer-term strategic view.
What was your first job?
A junior concrete technologist in the concrete laboratory of a large construction company.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
R800. I gave 10% to my church as part of my tithes and the rest to my mother because I was still living at home.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I’m crazy about jazz. I’ve collected vinyls and CDs for as long as I can remember.
Tell us about a hidden gem in SA that not many people know about?
In the south of Joburg, there’s an old Portuguese restaurant called Parreirinha. You will not have better prawns and chicken anywhere.
What is your biggest indulgence?
Golf — you’ll find me at the Wanderers Golf Club every Saturday morning. If there’s a golf tour, my name will be one of the first on the list.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience — look at the value destruction and increased poverty in our country because we were "patient" with our politicians and continued to "worship" our so-called liberators.
What is your most treasured possession?
I have a 1972 VW Beetle 1600L. This car was given to me by my father-in-law 25 years ago. It’s still in perfect condition. The music system cost more than the car itself.
What is the lowest depth of misery?
Having to look someone in the eye and tell them they are being retrenched.
What is something you would tell your younger self that would impress him?
Having grown up in Westbury and being surrounded by drugs and gangsterism and having lived with a single mother who battled to get us through school, I would tell them it is possible to make it, there is hope. Just resist the peer pressure associated with instant gratification. Rather be the focused, boring nerd who is eventually able to make a difference.
How would you fix SA’s job crisis?
It requires trust. Trade unions and labour must trust employers enough by slackening our labour laws and making it easier to employ people without the fear of being stuck with those who will hold one’s business to ransom when it comes to wage negotiations. Employers need to show they can be trusted to not focus only on creating value for shareholders by maximising profits at all costs. There needs to be a balance between a reasonable return for shareholders and value for other stakeholders.