BACKSTORY: Jan van der Putten
We question Jan van der Putten, vice-President Africa & Indian Ocean at Hilton
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Transparency, honesty and creating a win/win scenario.
What was your first job?
I was a barman and server in a rural restaurant in the eastern part of the Netherlands, working for my uncle and aunt.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I think it was 2 Dutch guilders per hour, but I cannot remember what I spent it on. It was too long ago!
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Perhaps how tough it is to be on your feet and run around for 10 hours a day and sometimes more.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
To have more positive international recognition for SA as one of the most beautiful countries in the world for tourism, and its wonderful people.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
That I am very keen on water sports in every part of the world, especially in my native country, the Netherlands.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
Buying a nice apartment in Amsterdam.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Not sure, but perhaps an important life lesson is: "Always adapt to the culture you live and work in because the culture will not adapt to you."
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience, because we do need to realise that sometimes speed and decisiveness are key factors in life.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
Find a balance — enjoy the good things every day but stay focused.
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?
No, not unless I had enough talent to be a professional golfer, which is certainly not the case.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I am not into politics, but we should all have the utmost respect for the president and everyone who is working to handle the present challenging situations in the country, in what must be one of the most difficult years in its history.
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