Who’s Who Meets Nelson Sebati, Non- Executive Chairman at Murason Business Services.
Our Chairman, Nelson Sebati was nominated for recognition at the DHL Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention held at Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg on March 28th 2014. Prior to the convention he was interviewed by Who’s Who of Southern Africa to discuss the journey thus far and expectations for the future. Below is the full transcript of the interview:
How did you get into your line of work?
From a very early age I was able to articulate my position and views eloquently. By the age of 11 it was clear I had an entrepreneurial mind-set. I was encouraged to pursue a career in line with this inherent strength and as a result my first job was as Resource Management Consultant for a JSE listed company.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals in your industry?
My advice to other young professionals is “Do not start a business/career to become famous; start a business/career to build a legacy. Keep your eye on the best interests of your business/career and do not let the tempting distraction of personal fame compromise your original goals.”
Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career, and how have they affected you?
I am a scholar of Classical Entrepreneurship so the biggest influences for me have come from bygone era Impresarios that changed the world. Without taking anything away from anyone else that has assisted me on my journey I would list Nathan Rothschild, Andrew Carnegie, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, Iwasaki Yatarō, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Pierpont Morgan, John Davison Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla and James Watt as my 10 biggest professional influences.
All of these men started from humble beginnings, but through clarity, confidence and conviction they built companies, industries and even countries. Their lives have inspired me to always work hard – harder than anyone else, focus on doing things where I can have the greatest impact and think strategically.
How will being nominated by the Tomorrow’s Leader’s Convention impact your career?
Recognition is always great. I am truly honoured to be included in the same brackets as the top calibre nominees that make up this year’s list of Tomorrow’s Leaders; I am in good company. I will continue striving to create opportunities for myself and others as an evangelist of the gospel of Self-Empowerment. This nomination is a testament to the old Johannesburg adage “with if a little ambition, look what you can become here”.
What are you hoping to learn/gain from the Convention?
I am hoping to engage in meaningful dialogue with these future opinion-shapers, policy-makers and captains of industry on issues of Entrepreneurship, Economic Development, Education and Innovation. I want to deepen my understanding, strengthen my network and surface/explore business opportunities.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I am proud of everything I have done: my job, my companies, my charitable foundation, my youth training, my motivational speaking and of course, my family. However I would have to say my proudest professional achievement is the incredible journey that being Chairman of Murason Business Services has taken me on.
Who or what inspired you to start your career in your industry?
When I started I was inspired by the desire to give young talent a chance by exposing them to the corporate world, which at the time was very hostile. Corporate SA at the time was not full of liberal people as it is today; it still had high barriers that needed to be broken down. So my goal was to integrate young professionals into mainstream occupations and encourage tolerance.
Tell us about a risk you’ve taken during the course of your career and how this affected your path?
I take risks every day, it comes with the territory. My every move is a calculated risk designed to bring me closer to meeting and exceeding my goals.
My biggest risk recently has been exiting an established business in which I was a major participant to start something from scratch that my daughter (through her trust) could be a shareholder in. The experience of building a family business on boot straps with the long-term view of passing it on to my child has been greatly motivating and positively impacted by patience levels.
It has been a very enlightening experience to have such a silent and yet so significant a person as my business partner.
If you could do anything now, what would you do and why?
I would establish a Murason Persuasion Academy™ that targets high-achieving individuals seeking to considerably improve their persuasion skills through high-touch courses on Influencing, Selling, Negotiation, Speaking and Networking. Our programs would place a strong emphasis on improving confidence and providing individuals with the knowledge and ability to better analyse and communicate issues pertaining to politics, economics, business and other areas of critical understanding.
Who or what keeps you motivated, and how?
Ever since I was able to comfortably provide for myself and my loved ones, I am motivated by winning. I like winning and I like to keep winning. I view business as a game that you play against the odds/obstacles, your own limits/goals and of course, the competition. The desire to win is what keeps me playing.
What’s next for you?
I am going to write a book that focuses on Enterprise Supplier Development (ESD) and the opportunities it presents for SMMEs as a catalyst for economic growth in South Africa and beyond. I have great partners for this project and I am aggressively pursuing it.
Tell us about your role models or mentors, and how they have affected your career?
I am blessed to have 2 mentors, both ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) and highly accomplished businessmen. The one is a seasoned property genius and the other an investment maverick. I cannot say their names because they abhor publicity and I respect their privacy.
As veterans they have already been in my position and they advise me on what steps I need to take and what mistakes I must avoid – all the while still giving me room to breathe and grow on my own.
What do you think is the most important innovation of your lifetime and why?
The advances in research, design and efficiencies around the Electric Car appeal to me as the most important innovation of the last three decades. This is because a successful electric car will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are threatening our planet, reduce our dependency on petroleum based fuels and reduce transportation costs for businesses and individuals.
Which three Southern Africans would you most like to have dinner with and why?
I would like to have dinner with the following people:
- Koos Bekker: CEO of Naspers;
- Elon Musk: CEO of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla Motors. (Since he is South African born, I consider him a Southern African);
- Strive Masiyiwa: Chairman of Econet Wireless.
Because “one single conversation across a table with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books”.
How important has social media and online brand management been in managing your career?
It has been pivotal. Social Media and online platforms have permitted me to influence and bond with like-minded professionals across the globe. It has simplified and personalised the sharing of awareness and practices in real-time. My online brand allows me and Murason Business Services greater visibility to our peers and gives us podiums to showcase and present our work to clients.
What would you like your legacy to be?
I would like to be remembered as a businessman who understood the importance of enlisting the services of people smarter than himself and as a person who had a great time living life, who did his duty towards his family and was loyal to his friends.
What does success look like to you?
To me success is a shifting notion and is made up of different aspects e.g. Material success, Intellectual success, Collective success, Spiritual success, Physical success, Commercial success and etc. But right now my vision of success is realizing Murason Business Services’ mission of being the chosen partner in all possible markets, consistently unlocking value in an entrepreneurial manner, through long-term mutually beneficial relationships with all our stakeholders.