BACKSTORY: Sanlam’s Nat Jabangwe
We question the group digital executive at Sanlam Nat Jabangwe
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
If purpose and value don’t add up, walk away, no matter how sexy the deal looks.
What was your first job?
In Atlanta, US, I got a chance to intern in mayor Shirley Franklin’s office. At the age of 21 I was responsible for passing the city’s first IT security policies.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I was quite lucky, my first graduate job was about £2,000. If you’re an African child you know what to do with that: the first spend is on your parents. I bought them both lovely outfits.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Travel widely. Diverse perspectives are super-important in life and in business.
What single thing would you fix in SA?
Financial inclusion through digital technology. The previous business I was involved with, and was CEO of, remains an incredible demonstration of the power of fintech. The EcoCash platform in Zimbabwe scaled to 12-million customers, financially including 90% of the adult population in six years. Mass scale should be a pan-African imperative.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I love art, literature, laughter and good dance. I’ve also sort of started surfing.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?
I was born in the UK, my parents are Zimbabwean. Deciding to come back to Africa full-time in 2014 has been one of my best life decisions yet.
Your worst investment mistake?
I find it unnatural to count losses. Some, ultimately, are gains. Some are lessons.
Your hardest life lesson so far?
Sometimes, it takes time and I’m often in a hurry to get on with the journey.
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?
I’d be in a great dancing band or defending injustices.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
If I were in any "hot country seat", I’d sure have a table where young people had a seat too — they are the custodians of our future — ensuring that their voice has a say on key actions and decisions.
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