Fm.co.za – Financial Mail
Thando Mhlambiso – recently appointed chairman of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) by President Jacob Zuma – is part of a generation of South Africans educated abroad who have returned determined to fulfil a mission to transform the SA economy.
His appointment marks a return to the organisation which he served between 2006 and 2010 as trustee and investment committee chairman.
Apart from chairing the NEF, Mhlambiso is also responsible for growing Allan Gray's US$45bn assets under management outside SA. But his career in finance almost didn't happen.
Having majored in biology at Brown University in the US, Mhlambiso initially believed he'd make a good physician. “After my graduation I decided to go to pre-med school but, after a year, I dropped out. I realised that despite studying the sciences, my real passion lay in finance,” Mhlambiso says.
“It was the mid-1980s, capital was cheap, leveraged buyouts were in vogue and everyone who had an MBA or a law degree wanted to work on Wall Street. It became clear to me that if I were going to cut it in the world of investment banking, where all the major deals were being structured, I needed to invest in myself.