Billionaire businessman Dr Christo Wiese has been honoured as the Sunday Times Business Leader of the Year, but also received the Sunday Times Lifetime Achievement Awards at the annual Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Awards, which took place at a banquet in Sandton on Tuesday evening.
This was the first time since the inception of the awards that the same person was honoured as both business leader of the year as well as for a lifetime achievement for a consistent contribution to the South African economy.
At the event the Fortress Income Fund was honoured as the Sunday Times Top Company for 2015.
Wiese said receiving the awards makes him feel grateful and humbled at the same time, because there are so many unsung heroes in South Africa.
“On the other hand one has great appreciation for the contribution made by tens of thousands of one’s colleagues in achieving this highly regarded recognition,” he added.
Wiese, chair of among others Pepkor and Shoprite, was the guest speaker at a recent event hosted by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) where he not only shared his business philosophy, but talked about his humble upbringing in Upington in the Northern Cape.
He explained that growing up he accepted life is a challenge, but also knew that one can change it.
“I am not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is somebody who takes nothing and makes something of it,” said Wiese at the USB event. He said he is not in business only to make money.
“For me it is more satisfying to see people grow. But I am also very competitive – so making money is a measurement to see if you are doing better,” he explained
He added that for a business to succeed, clear philosophies are needed. The five principles he lives by are faith, positive thinking, enthusiasm, hard work and compassion.
Positive thinking is very important in dealing with the world today, in his view. In fact, he asked what one can gain by being negative and pointed out that SA as a nation has come a long way.
“One must remember that a bad situation is always temporary. Bad leaders can really hurt a country’s economy, but equally, good leaders can transform a country and its economy in a short period of time,” said Wiese.
The Sunday Times Business Leader of the Year Award is decided by CEOs of the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies from the previous year.