Growing up in the countryside in KwaZulu-Natal, Matthew de la Hey knew from a young age in which direction he wanted to go in his career. Nevertheless, he wasn’t prescriptive about the path that would take.
He studied at Stellenbosch University (SU) from 2008 – 2012, completing his BAcc and BAcc (honours). “I had a wonderful time at Stellenbosch and made a number of lifelong friends, in addition to meeting a handful of academics who became mentors/friends, spurring me on to achieve more.”
He is motivated by his desire to reach his full potential. “I realise that I have been given tremendous opportunities in life and feel that I have an obligation to leverage that to make a difference. I feel a weight of obligation for my life to be relevant and to make a lasting difference in the world. That goal keeps me focused and pushing forward.”
He was selected for the South Africa-Washington International Programme (SAWIP) in 2011, spending time in Washington DC where he interned at the World Bank. SAWIP is an initiative of the Washington-Ireland Programme for Service and Leadership (WIP) and aims to inspire, develop and support a new generation of ethical South African servant leaders.
In 2012, he was selected as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar for his final honours year at Stellenbosch. He wrote the first professional examination to be a chartered accountant in 2012, but before he could start his articles he was awarded the Weidenfeld Scholarship to Oxford University where he read for an MSc in African studies as a member of New College. His research focused on changing agricultural behaviour amongst small-scale farmers in former homeland areas, focusing on the ex-Transkei village of Mbotyi. He was awarded the Weidenfeld Scholarship a second time and continued to Oxford’s Saïd Business School where he did an MBA.
After that, he worked briefly for a private equity fund before co-founding a technology startup called inploi (www.inploi.com), which is an online marketplace that connects people who are looking for work to companies looking for staff, alongside a range of tools that make it easier for them to interact and develop an online professional network.
“I believe that Stellenbosch University has a very bright future. The University is dealing with the challenges of adapting to 21st century South Africa (and the modern world) admirably, and I have no doubt it is well on the way to being recognised as one of the top higher education institutions in the world,” he says.
Matthew tries to handle difficult situations with courage and calmness and evaluate the situation for what it really is and not what he thinks or fears it is. He has wonderful mentors and advisors he turns to for advice, guidance, opinions and thoughts and is grateful for Prof Stan du Plessis who inspired him as a student.
“I am very grateful for their (my mentors’) kindness and assistance – tapping into the immense wisdom and experience of others has helped me a great deal. People are generally open to helping – there is no shame in reaching out to ask for advice!”
- By Elbie Els -