BACKSTORY: Absa’s Arrie Rautenbach
We question Arrie Rautenbach, CEO of retail & business banking at Absa
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Always leave 10% for the buyer.
What was your first job?
Packing groceries in a retail store and doing all sorts of other small jobs.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I didn’t get pay cheques in the beginning but received my wages in an envelope. I had to make every cent count.
What was the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
A job title is not important.
What’s the one book everyone should read?
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
How would you fix Eskom?
I believe the lasting solution will arise by taking advantage of new, environmentally friendly energy sources.
Which phrase do you most overuse?
"What does that mean?" I’m always pushing for tangible outcomes.
What’s your biggest regret?
I have made many mistakes in my life and every one taught me new lessons — that’s how we grow. I don’t have any regrets. Do you have a single ‘favourite joke’ you tell people? What and if so, what is it?
Not a favourite joke, but I believe humour is a special life ingredient. It keeps us humble and connected.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I’m a sports fanatic. I enjoy spending time on my mountain bike and love competition. I’ve completed the Absa Cape Epic three times. I’m also a keen photographer.
What has been your worst purchase?
Spending money on a car is not an investment.
How would you close the gap between SA’s rich and its poor?
There is no substitute for good-quality education, right from pre-primary school level. Every society that has reached new heights has used education as the springboard.
What’s the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
I wish I had realised the importance of diversification.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Perfection. In pursuit of perfection, people become so afraid of making a mistake that they limit their growth potential.
When and where were you happiest?
When I’m in nature with my daughter by my side.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career? And if so, what would that career be?
I really like what I do, but if I had to choose an alternative path, I would probably choose professional sport.