Alex Smith - CFO Altron: "Yes You Can"

CFO South Africa has interviewed a large number of CFOs and CEOs of leading South African companies. Meet Alex Smith, CFO of Altron, a large South African investment holding company. Altron currently staffs around 13.000 people, and has a turnover of R23 billion. Alex joined Altron in 2006 and appointed to the CFO role in August 2008. Scottish Alex was trained as a CA in Edinburgh, Scotland with Price Waterhouse, after having done a law degree at Edinburgh University. He came out to South Africa on a two year secondment in 1995 and “never looked back!” He worked for PwC in South Africa through to 2005, spending eight years in their transaction services department doing a wide range of financial due diligences, before moving to Altron at the beginning of 2006 as Group Financial Manager.

1) Which achievement or project in your business career so far are you most proud of?
When I was being appointed CFO of this company.

2) What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the variety of the job. No two days are the same and every day provides new challenges and new learnings.

3) Which skill do you think a young professional should master to be most successful in his career?

He or she should definitely have people skills. Since no matter what business you are in, you'll always be managing people.

4) Which education would you recommend for a successful career in business?

I don't believe there is one route to success and most businesses benefit from a management team with diverse educational backgrounds. It is also important to understand that the education process never ends!

5) What was the most interesting business book you have ever read?

"Screw it, let's do it" - Richard Branson

6) What strengths have other people commented on about you and your accomplishments, and what strengths do you see in yourself?

Attention to detail and getting things done.

7) What is your biggest lesson learnt?

To coin a phrase - "Yes You Can"

8) What is the ideal way to end a hectic day in the office?

Dinner with the family - normality!

9) Who is your role model in life and why?

I don't have a role model in particular, but I try to learn from everyone I work with.

10) What vital piece of personal advice would you give young executive professionals?

Surround yourself with good, positive people.

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Category: Interviewing the CFO