BACKSTORY: Cheryl Howard
We question Cheryl Howard, MD at Maitland Family Office
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Trust your gut feel — don’t do the deal for the sake of doing a deal. Sometimes walking away is better.
What was your first job?
As a 15-year-old, I was a trainee cook for the Old Eds Country Club. At 17 I was an articled clerk for what was then Deloitte Haskins & Sells.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
As the trainee cook, R57 for the weekend and I bought cork platform sandals — when I think back, they were ugly! As an articled clerk I got R525 a month. It paid my Unisa tuition deposit, then I took my late brother for Smartie-cup ice creams at the roadhouse in Berea.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Trust yourself, don’t take things too seriously, take life insurance cover when you’re young and start saving for retirement from your first pay cheque.
How would you fix Eskom?
Allow private energy providers to sell into the grid and use credits to offset against usage, as well as introduce substantial incentives for renewable energy investments. Revisit the payroll and scale salaries and stop the culture of nonpayment for services.
Do you think we need SAA?
What is your biggest regret?
Not taking an international assignment and living abroad while in my 20s.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
It’s not necessarily interesting but it’s a little embarrassing: I can’t swim and I am terrified of the water. Learning to scuba dive is a bucket-list challenge.
What has been your worst purchase?
A 1969 VW Kombi — I’m still trying to sell it.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
As I’ve grown older, I’ve learnt that the best investment is time and experiences.
What would you go back and tell your younger self that would impress her?
What if it is not a problem?
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 love what I do in the family office environment and should maybe have opted for law, not accounting, given that most of my work is more legally orientated than figures. My dream career would have been a racing-car driver.
If you were Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
The obvious thing is to oust corruption and pay back the money. On a lighter note, introduce tax incentives for investment into sport and culture — just look at the Bokmania following our World Cup win.