BACKSTORY: General Electric’s Nyimpini Mabunda
We question CEO of General Electric Southern Africa Nyimpini Mabunda
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Deliver an outcome that delights both parties. This way you have sustainability and may have built an enduring relationship.
What was your first job?
I was a sales representative at Procter & Gamble.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was for R4,600. I spent it mostly on clothes and entertainment. I was 19, lived at home and had a company car, so my salary was for discretionary spend.
What is the hardest life lesson you have learnt so far?
Trust people but also leave room for disappointment; — sometimes it’s those you care about the most who will let you down. You need to bounce back from that. I do think that, at the heart of it, most people are driven by self-interest.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
To be more savvy around corporate politics and culture. Sadly, hard work is not enough, one needs to be streetwise.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
Stable, affordable and sustainable (renewable) power supply. It’s key to attracting investment and restoring our economy to growth.
What is the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I love teaching. I lectured MBA students at two business schools, one in SA and the other in the UK. I consistently volunteered wherever I worked to be part of corporate training facilitators because I enjoy imparting knowledge and I also learn from doing so.
What investments do you wish you had made, or made earlier?
Capitec, of course, and Tesla. But also in some start-ups, especially in fintech, renewables and edtech companies.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Experience. Facebook is the biggest media company but not the most experienced; Netflix has transformed content production, leapfrogging businesses that have done this for centuries. We need to find new and better ways of doing things, and, in this regard, experience can be the enemy of imagination.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I would reset my cabinet to ensure I have the right talent and operating model to match the challenging task of rebuilding the economy. He needs an energised and competent team to make it happen.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.