BACKSTORY: Samukele Mkhize, country compliance head at Binance
The FM talks to Samukele Mkhize, country compliance head at Binance, who has an embarrassing secret
What’s your top tip for doing a deal?
Organisation and attention to detail can make or break a transaction. Once you have clear instructions, a clear objective and set timelines, the technical skills then come into play and there is limited scope for error.
What was your first job?
My first permanent corporate job was as an associate at Webber Wentzel in the telecommunications, media & technology team where I was responsible for contract drafting, regulatory advisory and legal due diligence.
How much was your first pay cheque and how did you spend it?
About R20,000. I sent some money home to my parents and took the family out for dinner. I had to be slightly conservative as my housemates and I needed to pay off our rental deposit, buy furniture and food to get us through to the next month.
What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
Focus on what you are good at and find a good mentor in your 20s. Not a high-profile mentor who you hardly see but someone willing to give you brutally honest feedback.
If you could fix one thing in South Africa, what would it be?
With the unemployment rate at approximately 33%, and the youth being the most vulnerable in the labour market, we need to build new industries and gateways to the mainstream economy. Technology is pivotal in supporting small businesses and furthering the freedom of money for everyone through the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
It’s slightly embarrassing, but I can’t ride a bicycle. My father got me a bicycle once but I had a few bad falls and stopped trying. Hopefully it’s something I’ll conquer in the future.
What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
I sold a Krugerrand to invest in what turned out to be terrible stock. I never recovered much from it. With hindsight, the Krugerrand was better off in my safe.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?
Joining Binance at the time I did was an amazing investment. A very unexpected turn in my career but it has given me a significant advantage in the fast-developing convergence of law, finance and technology. I also believe you prepare for luck and it isn’t entirely by chance.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
No-one is coming to save you. Your life is completely your responsibility.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Comfort — It is unrealistic and stifles growth.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
Read more, write more and, importantly, dream more. This life is an amazing journey.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
Provide finance for small businesses and develop the township economy. This coupled with the promotion of emerging markets in technology is the future of job creation. And we need more pragmatism in our policy implementation.
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