BACKSTORY: Dis-Chem CFO Rui Morais
We question Rui Morais, chief financial officer of Dis-Chem on his top tip for doing a deal, the one investment he wishes he’d made earlier and his thoughts on the lockdown
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Be cautious of doing a deal in an industry or geography that you have limited experience in, regardless of how good the numbers look.
What was your first job?
Coaching a range of sports at high schools. I loved the competitiveness and the excitement of interschool sports days.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I can’t recall, but I don’t think I would be wrong if I said either a pair of sneakers or a Lego set.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
You can’t achieve what you intend to by yourself; build a team that is complementary to you and let them learn and grow with you. It’s been the biggest lesson in my career.
What have you most enjoyed/disliked about lockdown?
I love seeing my little girl, Olivia, grow a personality of her own — I’ve had the chance to experience small moments with her that I will treasure. In terms of the business, it’s been great to see how adaptable the business and people are in such a challenging time.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I have an unmatched collection of sneakers and Lego. I have built tons of Lego in my life and have yet to find a piece that doesn’t fit perfectly onto another one. A testament to a great product and great brand.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
I would have invested more in our stock earlier — I really think Dis-Chem is a differentiated brand and I’m excited about the future.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. Let’s keep moving forward, making this better.
What is something you’d go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
I would show my younger self a picture of my Lego and sneaker collection, ha ha. Honestly, I think my younger self would have been impressed with the family I have built, work and life.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career?
Not as yet — I enjoy what I do.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I would try to extract more out of the private sector — we have world-class businesses that have solved complex solutions, and we could use that … for SA. We should all be, in some way or form, contributing to a better SA.
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