BACKSTORY: Bridgette Walsh-Kruger of FNB Private Clients
The FM talks to Bridgette Walsh-Kruger, CEO of FNB Private Clients
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Prepare yourself by understanding your stakeholders, know your content thoroughly and position the value-add well. Be clear on what you are not willing to compromise on.
What was your first job?
I did vacation work in the marketing department at Vodacom in Gqeberha. It was a wonderful experience, as I got to do a host of fun things (like having my first helicopter ride).
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I can’t recall the exact amount, but I clearly remember having had more spending money as a student with a bursary than when I was paid my salary as an audit clerk.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
I wish I had known how important networks and relationships are for you to succeed and thrive. In a corporate environment you need to be deliberate, as these will not necessarily come naturally.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
I would ensure high-quality education and opportunities for everyone. I come from a small town, Hankey, in the Eastern Cape. I attended the local public schools, where I was surrounded by so many talented children, certainly more clever than me. Sadly, only a handful managed to rise above their circumstances.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I am an avid sports supporter and the loudest in live games. One of my bucket-list items is going to see Nadal at the French Open.
What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
I did not start early enough.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?
Selling a property at the right time. I bought an investment property during the financial crisis at a good price. Over nine years the value appreciation was great, and I sold it just before Covid.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Life is short and you’re not guaranteed a tomorrow.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
“You’ve got this” — there’s no need for so much anxiety and pressure to have it all figured out so early in life.
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?
In my job I have an opportunity to make a difference. Not just with my immediate team but for our clients. But if I were to change careers, my other passion is sports. It plays such a critical role in communities and the development of children.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is in connection with not holding people accountable for performance and ensuring competence in all roles. Successful companies have a clear goal; they have a strategy to achieve and continuously track progress against that goal. Stakeholders are clear regarding what they need to deliver and by when. They are then held accountable for that delivery.
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