Rolandi van der Westhuizen
Q. Tell us a bit about your career path.
A. I studied to be a chartered accountant at the University of Pretoria, and did my articles at PwC. My clients there were quite diverse at first, but became more focused on the financial industry, i.e., pension and provident funds. Then I moved to the Public Investment Corporation where I spent a number of years becoming the CFO, before consulting for a couple of years when my first child was born. I also did a stint as a UNISA lecturer, did my Master’s while I was working there, and then came to Pallidus in 2017.
Q. Did you always plan to end up in the world of finance?
A. Well, my mother was my accountancy teacher! But I did consider medicine and law, and decided that understanding how to run a business would stand me in good stead no matter where I ended up.
Q. What excites you about this job?
A. You deal with different companies and industries, so you learn a lot. Today it’s IT, and tomorrow it’s hospitality or healthcare. Also, I have the opportunity to really make a difference. At Pallidus, there are a lot of young, dynamic, intelligent, professional go-getters, so the impact here is evident for me. In my specific department, working with Section 12J investments, the objective is job creation and economic growth, so we’re investing in South Africa and also, at that level, making a difference.
Q. What is the toughest part of your job?
A. It’s technically quite challenging, as it brings together tax, business, accounting and legal. But we have the people onboard who can bring all these elements together and offer a holistic solution. It’s exciting, but it’s also challenging.
Q. What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?
A. I love to be outdoors – to exercise or do some sort of outdoor recreational activity. In terms of exercise I play squash (this is unfortunately indoors, but very good exercise), tennis, and I run, although I must say I don’t run very far. I just love to be outdoors. I have children (two boys) though, so I tend to spend more time next to the sports field than participating myself!
Q. Who or what inspires you?
A. Different things and people. I am inspired by positive thinkers who are solution-driven, energetic and can take initiative. You get energy from that. And that’s very much a part of how I was raised, and part of my family culture. For instance, my grandfather, who is turning 90 this year (and still driving his own car!) was successfully practising medicine until he was 80. He taught me that if you want something in life, you need to work for it, and you need to love doing it. He always says that his work was his hobby.
Q. What is your favourite kind of holiday?
A. I have two. At the end of a long year, I like to just go to the beach to lie around and do as little as possible. But I also love to do activity-type holidays in the outdoors – skiing, quad biking, going over dunes in a 4×4 – that sort of thing.
Q. Who are your biggest cheerleaders?
A. My husband, my parents, and my siblings. I know that no matter what, they will always be there to support me.
Q. Name one item still on your bucket list.
A. I’d like to complete a 10km trail run.
Q. What is your personal philosophy of life?
A. For me the most important thing is integrity. There can’t be grey areas, as this might give people an opportunity to hold you to ransom, then you won’t be able to make the necessary or correct decisions. As a Christian, that is very much in line with my belief system. And also, be positive, appreciate what and who you have, and be thankful at all times. Life is a gift, not a given!