Meet the CEO is a regular feature on TechCentral. The aim is to introduce our readers to the people behind the news by providing insights into the leaders shaping South Africa’s ICT industry. Our latest interview in the series is with Réan van Niekerk, CEO of Metacom.
What was your first-ever job?
A salesman in an electronics shop. I loved the technology, which has remained my passionate interest from the age of five. I also learnt the importance of impressing customers with exceptional service.
Who is your greatest role model, and why?
Globally, the ICT space has a plethora of high-profile leaders who have changed the world. Some of my favourite visionaries are Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk. I have gleaned much wisdom from books by these iconic role models. And then from another era, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers and Nikola Tesla, and I grouped those collectively for one very important reason — they all not only had a profound vision but the ability to work hard, and the grit to grind on under extremely trying circumstances. To be successful, you need a vision, practical knowhow and the ability to work incredibly hard, no matter the challenges.
What’s your favourite quote?
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
What phone do you currently use, and why?
iPhone. Apple represents the perfect juxtaposition of engineering, creativity, design and marketing savvy. I have always admired Steve Jobs and his talent to create truly wonderful products and inspire a multitude of high achievers.
What are you currently reading?
Superminds by Thomas W Mallone. I am fascinated by the immensely powerful thinking that may be obtained by superimposing machine learning, artificial intelligence and the human mind.
What are your three favourite books?
The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse; The Algebraist by Iain M Banks; and Hyperspace by Michio Kaku
What’s your favourite movie?
2001: A Space Odyssey. I love the futuristic vision, the music and the sheer creative brilliance.
What is your most treasured possession?
I dearly love handmade bookmark gifts from my children and family photo albums, being the documented history of my beautiful life.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Growing Metacom organically without venture capital has been a fantastic adventure and achievement. Metacom is privately owned but managed as a corporate, allowing us total flexibility to continuously reinvest in technology, systems and processes while operating in a structured manner.
We have numerous corporate customers that have trusted us with their mission-critical communications for nearly two decades. I have always regarded this as a great privilege and taken this huge responsibility very seriously.
What is your greatest regret?
Not learning to fly sooner. I recently completed my lifelong ambition of obtaining my fixed-wing pilot’s licence. I enjoyed it so much that I am now learning to fly helicopters. That is an exhilarating experience.
How do you cope with stress?
Being an entrepreneur for most of my life, I have had to learn to cope with severe stress and work pressure. When things get wild, I sit down and contemplate the situation at hand and think my way to solutions.
What skill or talent would you most like to possess that you don’t already?
Playing a musical instrument. I love music and as a child I played various instruments, but as an adult, career and family responsibilities took over and I did not pursue further musical training. But it’s never too late…
What phrase do you most use/overuse in business?