Meet the Boss is a How we made it in Africa interview series in which we pose the same 10 questions to business leaders across the continent.
Holden Marshall, managing director of Resilient Africa
1. What was your first job?
A banker at Standard Bank in 1981.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
Desmond de Beer (CEO and managing director of Resilient Property Income Fund). He is just a phenomenal entrepreneur, has a good vision and just sees the facts and makes a quick decision. He doesn’t over analyse.
3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
Nothing, I sleep like a baby. I am really happy with what I do and I have learnt not to get stressed about it. Things happen and I deal with them.
4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?
Confidence with what I do. I just believe in it and I do it. And I don’t take things personally – if they work, they work, if they don’t, they don’t. I just go with it.
5. What are the best things about your country, South Africa?
It’s beautiful. It’s a lovely country and I love it. I’m a very firm supporter of South Africa and Africa, and everything of it. Yes, there are frustrations, without a doubt, with councils and corruption. And [corruption] is getting worse which is sad but it is still a beautiful country. I wouldn’t go anywhere.
6. And the worst?
Corruption is maybe part of it but what is worse is incompetence: officials in jobs who have no idea what they are doing and they don’t have the [ability] to do their job but they are in the job and it just bottlenecks because they do not know what they have got to do. That is probably the most frustrating thing.
7. Your future career plans?
Retire, again, for the third time [laughs]. I have retired twice already, well tried. But I am fortunate, comfortable, and I work for the fun of it. However, next time I retire it will be permanent.
8. How do you relax?
I do a lot of sport. I do triathlons – I do about five a year which keeps me very busy in training – and I motorcycle, which I love. I take a weekend every now and again and ride wherever it takes me. And I love holidays and travelling.
9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
Be confident and – the normal cliché – persevere, and do your homework. That is broad, but that is what it takes. Be patient as well, you have to be a bit patient. It does not happen quickly, which goes back to perseverance.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
We should revolt against corruption. That is all. Everything is there [for Africa to succeed] but it is just incompetence and corruption [that holds us back]. You just get officials in jobs that are there for one purpose only, and that is for their own personal gain. If we can eradicate that then I think the floodgates would open.
Holden Marshall is the managing director of Resilient Africa, a joint venture between South African companies that are specifically focused on developing shopping malls in Nigeria. Included in the joint venture is the majority stakeholder Resilient Property Income Fund, a specialised retail property loan stock company, Shoprite Holdings, a food retailer in Africa, and financial and banking group Standard Bank. Resilient Africa, has also entered into joint ventures with various state governments and/or Nigerian Development Partners on each mall. Marshall has held leading positions in the property industry during his career, including CEO of Mantis Properties.