BACKSTORY: Grindrod’s Xolani Mbambo
We question CEO of Grindrod Freight Services Xolani Mbambo
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
I always strive for a win-win outcome.
What was your first job?
As a learner, to earn pocket money and to contribute to our household expenses, I did some gardening. My first formal job in my career path was as an audit clerk for Coopers & Lybrand, which later merged with Price Waterhouse during my training years.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I think it was about R1,800 a month. I spent R400 a month on a laptop which I needed for audit training, some on transport and clothing and I used the balance to help at home.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
The public education system. It is not where it should be, and it affects the majority of our people as they cannot afford private education. The system needs to produce suitable skills needed by employers and provide a sufficient pool of entrepreneurs who will help reduce unemployment. Our former president Nelson Mandela summed it up well when he said: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I am a long-distance runner. I have completed 12 Comrades Marathons as well as international marathons including Paris, Edinburgh, London and Berlin.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
With hindsight I wish I had bought bitcoin.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
The harder you work the luckier you seem to get.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
The pandemic leading to the hard lockdown last year was one of the most challenging and difficult times I’ve faced, personally. It was an emotional roller coaster, particularly when we had to implement austerity measures. But the hard work ultimately paid off as our job losses were minimised.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
Intensify efforts to tackle crime.
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