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Michael Jordaan - Stellenbosch University

Matie Voices

Michael Jordaan

Alumnus of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences and the Faculty of Law


“If you are able to surround yourself with great people, you will achieve things you never thought possible.”

Becoming CEO of First National Bank (FNB) at the age of 36 is just one of many impressive positions in Michael Jordaan’s career.He led FNB to be named the “World’s Most Innovative Bank” in the 2012 BAI-Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards and in 2011 he made the Top Five list of SA Newsmakers of the Year for FNB’s social media presence.

In 2014 he was awarded CNBC The All Africa Business Leader of the Year award. He serves on the boards of several companies, including CodeX, Invenfin, Compuscan and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). In 2013 he moved out of the corporate world and started a venture capital company, Montegray, mentoring small businesses and entrepreneurs, investing in businesses with high growth potential.

“I consider myself very lucky. Early on in my career I discovered that the secret of progress is being surrounded by people who are better than you. Becoming CEO of various businesses was a privilege, most of all due to the opportunity to grow as a person.”

Michael is celebrated as being at the forefront of business leadership, innovation and technology. He is an avid reader and likes to discuss his ideas with experts in their fields. “There used to be a time when gaining access to knowledge was difficult and available only to the privileged, nowadays the internet has levelled opportunities and there is no excuse to not reading widely. You can teach yourself anything if you want,” he says.

He believes that the world is not functioning optimally and that borders are preventing maximised trade, economic growth and progress with other issues like global warming. “I am excited about a future where we do not accept things as they are but can design it according to first principles. If we did this we would probably have electric instead of fossil-fuelled cars, a redesigned economic system with far less inequality; and we would tread more lightly on earth.”

Michael says that technology can help people live longer but that most of the challenges we face are related to human behaviour.  With tenacity and agility, he tries to make a change by helping start-up businesses that have both a social and commercial mission.

“If you are able to surround yourself with great people, you will achieve things you never thought possible.” He has also found that happiness does not come from having more and more possessions, but from basic things like good relationships with family and friends, a good meal or a fire in winter.

- By Elbie Els -