Jakes de Kock, The Fuelcard company
What has been your biggest achievement in your current role?
Turning the company from an operationally-led organisation to a sales and marketing-led organisation. This change in direction has resulted in significant company organic growth through targeted multi-channel acquisition strategies.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
When I was a teenager my dad gave me a biography of Dr Anton Rupert, the Afrikaaner South African entrepreneur billionaire.
He started his global empire with a £10 investment and was one of the business leaders in the apartheid era who put pressure on the government to abolish its policies of segregation.
Reading his book really inspired me to go into business and to put in the hard graft to make a success of my career.
What is your dream holiday?
I go back to South Africa to visit my family once a year.
I always have to go up to the Bushveld, north of Pretoria. I love the unique sounds of the birds and wildlife, the smells of the vegetation, the sights of red soil and thorn trees and the excitement of trekking wild animals. I normally stay in a tented safari camp near the Botswana border.
Who did you last receive a text message from?
I received a text from a potential new supplier I met at the annual Internet Marketing Industry conference, Ad:Tech, in London last week.
We talked about how his business can help our business with optimising lead generation via social media. The text was to try to set up a meeting.
You are on a desert island – what three things do you take with you?
A lighter, my iPad loaded with books and games, and a lot of biltong (South African beef jerky).
What is your favourite sitcom?
Curb Your Enthusiasm with Larry David. I can sometimes identify with Larry. He has good intentions most of the time but is largely misunderstood.
When was the last time you took public transport?
Train from Harrogate to London, for Ad:Tech conference.
What is the first thing you would do if you were made Prime Minister?
Help the struggling UK transport industry by scrapping fuel duty for companies where their main business is road transport. I would recoup some of that lost revenue by charging a road tax to European HGVs travelling into the UK.
If you won the Lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
Probably a bottle of vintage Champagne to celebrate with my family.
What is your favourite film?
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? I generally love the Coen Brothers’ films, but this is a favourite because the storyline and soundtrack are perfectly intertwined.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Horse riding on my grandfather’s farm in the Orange Freestate with my cousins, looking for Boer War artefacts. We never found any.
What is your favourite dish at a restaurant?
A medium rare fillet steak with béarnaise sauce, fries and a good red Shiraz.
What is your favourite book?
Any rugby or cricket biographies or autobiographies. I’m rugby and cricket crazy. Favourite was reading the Hansie Cronje story as told by Hansie’s brother.
When did you last feel guilty about the environment?
When I could not bother to wash the plastic butter tubs last night for recycling and threw it straight into the bin. My wife found the tub in the bin later and I got a bit of a telling-off.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Hard but fair.
Who was your childhood hero?
Naas Botha, the Blue Bulls and Springbok fly-half from the 80s – a real rugby genius and a genuinely nice person. I met him when I was a wide-eyed 10-year-old at the opening of our local Nissan dealership in Pretoria and he was the star guest. He took time to answer all my questions and took me and a few other kids to a field opposite for a rugby master class.
Which historical character do you most identify with?
Joseph from the Old Testament. Like him, I have the ability to not only dream but turn dreams into executable strategic plans.
What advice would you give your 18- year-old self?
Go and invent a social network and call it Facebook.
What is the one object you couldn’t live without?
My iPhone, to my wife’s dismay. I always look at Twitter at home.
Which superhero from comics would you most like to be?
Batman. I love gadgets and unusual modes of transport.
What is your dream car?
Range Rover Autobiography. Ultimate in luxury and technology.
What was the pivotal moment in your life?
Meeting my lovely English wife in London 16 years ago. If I hadn’t I might now be a sheep farmer somewhere in the Kalahari.