It’s been my privilege to have followed Magda Wierzycka’s progression from the time she helped build Coronation Fund Managers through to leading a turnaround at African Harvest and as the creator of financial services disruptor Sygnia. And then to watch in admiration as the super-smart qualified actuary transformed into an anti-corruption crusader – the unlikely pioneer of a fightback against South Africa’s seemingly inevitable slide into a corrupt failed state.
One of my most popular tweets of the past year was the one where I suggested that Magda possessed more testicular fortitude than most male CEOs. But the business community’s highest profile maverick has paid a high personal price, needing full-time bodyguards and being regularly attacked on social media as the system’s antibodies fought back.
We caught up yesterday in London where she is exploring global opportunities for her company – and reflected on how South Africa managed to reverse away from the abyss, what happens next and that infamous conversation with the director of SAP who admitted that in emerging markets, bribery is standard practice for the German multinational.