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Mugove Nyimo, MD of Absa Instant Life. Picture: Supplied
Mugove Nyimo, MD of Absa Instant Life. Picture: Supplied

What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?

Invest in your own skill in the art of negotiation. There are excellent programmes and books out there.

What was your first job?

Trainee insurance underwriter.

How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?

About R3,500. That was 24 years ago. I was lucky that part of the induction included a visit to a reinsurer in Cape Town, so I got my family gifts with the money. It was my first time on a plane.

What was the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?

Less is indeed more.

If you could fix one thing in SA, what would it be?

There is meaningful work in trade professions — so grow youth affinity to vocational careers such as being an electrician, nurse, instrument technician and so on.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?

My introverted side is more dominant, I have had to learn to pull off social settings with ease.

Worst investment mistake you’ve made?

When I changed employers in my 20s I cashed out my pension. Being in financial services and understanding compound interest, I should have set a better example.

What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?

Investing in personal development — particularly in leadership qualifications through leading business schools. My journey has been complemented by an internal Absa three-year programme in leadership. The luck comes from having supportive employers, but you need to invest the time and energy, and the returns do come.

What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt?

Loss of loved ones is part of the journey. Find meaning and carry on.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Prudence. There is lost opportunity in being too cautious.

What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?

I comfortably run a couple of marathons a year.

Was there ever a point at which you wanted a different career? If so, what would that career be?

I hardly think of it. You start off because you need a job, the passion then comes, and the years go swiftly by.

If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?

Tell the good stories more. There are fantastic stories in private electricity provision, bounce-back schemes for small and medium-sized enterprises, and so on. Repetition of our great stories can inspire hope and is the impetus for change.


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