Meet the Boss: Mills Soko, Director, UCT Graduate School of Business

1. What was your first job?

My first job was working as a research assistant at the University of Cape Town’s Equal Opportunities Research Project.

2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?

I am obsessed with ensuring that as Africa’s leading business school we not only stay at the top of the game, but we also remain relevant to the social, political, economic and business contexts in which we operate.

3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?

 My late parents and my wife

4. The best professional advice you’ve ever received?

Never burn your bridges and always keep an open mind.

5. The top reasons why you have been successful in life?

Having – and keeping – my sense of humour.

6. Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership? Business school or on the job?

Both. Business schools provides a conceptual tool of business management and on-the-job-training imparts practical work experience.

7. How do you relax?

I listen to music (jazz/R&B/soul). I also enjoy cooking, and like to walk on the beach or in the forest at Newlands.

8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?

I would love to be there by 10am but now in my new role I have to be here at 6am.

9. Your favourite job interview question?

What makes you tick?

10. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?

If they put their minds to what they are doing, they can achieve their goals. There are many business opportunities on the African continent – although it is not an easy environment to do business in. You have to have a vision for the long term and stick to that vision. Too many people come in for the quick win and when it’s not working they eject. But you have to be patient and persevere. In addition, you have to understand and mitigate risk and keep an open mind. You also have to realise that you need a regional focus. What works in Nigeria may not work in South Africa.