BACKSTORY: Ronak Gopaldas
We question director at Signal Risk Ronak Gopaldas
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Be authentic. Relationships matter, and people can see through insincerity.
What was your first job?
In my university years I worked as a waiter and at a call centre, and did promotions. My first full-time job was at Rand Merchant Bank, where I joined the graduate programme before becoming a country risk analyst.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was for R16,000. I bought a new TV for my parents and saved the rest for 2010 World Cup tickets.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Uncertainty is not always bad. Embrace the ambiguity.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
The energy sector. It’s key to unlocking growth, investment and jobs.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I try to collect football jerseys for every African country I visit. I have 21 national team jerseys at present.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
I wish I had invested in technology. It’s been a winner in the past decade, and given the disruption in business models and the acceleration of digitisation, this trend looks set to continue.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Success is not permanent and failure is not fatal. Things won’t always go according to plan but that’s OK. In fact, that’s where the real growth comes from. Take the lessons and keep moving.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Ambition. For every level, there’s another devil. Ambition affects your ability to ever be fully present or grateful.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress him?
Don’t let the person you are define the person you’re going to become.
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?
Not once. I’m very fortunate to be doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. My career has given me experiences that I could only ever have dreamt of.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
Get back to basics. Providing confidence is the easiest and cheapest way to stimulate an economy that is knee-deep in debt, disease and dysfunction. Communicate clearly and coherently, stop scoring own goals by overpromising and underdelivering. Most importantly, develop an actionable, closely monitored and nationally reported 150-day plan to revive investor confidence.
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