RMB Solutionist Thinking
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Solutionist Thinking: In Conversation with Michael Jordaan

Solutionist Thinking with RMB is a thirteen-episode podcast series hosted by Bruce Whitfield focusing on the great South African minds who are thinking differently and going against the norm. In the fifth episode, Whitfield speaks with former First National Bank CEO turned start-up investor, Michael Jordaan.

“Archie and Ben were professional golfers and keen rivals. One day during a game, they had each scored 30 when Ben hit a bad shot. Archie immediately added 10 to his own score. Archie then hit a good shot and he had won the game. Why?”

That was the riddle that 26-year-old Stellenbosch University graduate, Michael Jordaan had to solve to get an interview with Paul Harris, the Managing Director at Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in 1994.

Fast forward almost 10 years – at the age of 35 years, Jordaan is appointed Chief Executive Officer of the world's most innovative bank, First National Bank.

As a young CEO, I was very uncertain of myself...

Michael Jordaan, Venture Capitalist at Montegray Capital

Determined to excel, Jordaan embraced his position and, invested in his people and their development to bring transformation to the bank – and, in the process became the epitome of leadership in South Africa.

The test is really that… you channel your entire ambition into the job that you want to do.

Michael Jordaan, Venture Capitalist at Montegray Capital

After 10 years of challenging norms in the banking industry, a 45-year-old old Jordaan stepped down and hand the reigns over to Jacques Celliers.

Reflecting on his tenure, Jordaan explains: "as a rule – you come in, you need a certain amount of time to make your time but, then it’s also time to hand over to the next generation."

It was very clear to me that 10 years was going to be the maximum.

Michael Jordaan, Venture Capitalist at Montegray Capital

A bitter sweet joke – after his retirement from First National Bank, Jordaan's move into wine-making was short-lived and, it wasn't long before he ventured into exciting world of entrepreneurship and, venture capital.

Today, Jordaan is a former banker, invested in investing in solutionist startups that turns problems into business opportunities for sustainable investment. Some of the 21 solutionist startups in Jordaan's investment portfolio include Rain - South Africa's mobile data-only network; Bank Zero - a branchless app-driven bank; and Snapplify.com - an online textbook delivery service.

There is a massive need for more angel or venture type investing.

Michael Jordaan, Venture Capitalist at Montegray Capital

Listen to Michael Jordaan in conversation with Bruce Whitfield in the full Solutionist Thinking with RMB podcast below.


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