Adapt and thrive under stress: CFO dinner guests learn from sports


Pressure is a privilege. Champions adapt. That's what CFOs took home from world-renowned coach Richard Sutton.

(pictured: Raisibe Morathi, CFO Nedbank)

CFOs from some of South Africa’s leading organisations had an intimate high-profile dinner at Marble Restaurant in Rosebank to discuss the idea of 'Potential to Performance' with world renowned-coach Richard Sutton. It turned into an incredible evening of laughs, lessons, incredible food and networking, made possible by dinner partner Thomson Reuters, currently being rebranded as Refinitiv.

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Sports health coach Richard Sutton is well known for his success with highly pressured sports superstars. He guided tennis star Kevin Anderson from nearly giving up his career to becoming a grand slam winning champion. The road to success was hidden in the response to stress. "If you see stress as an advantage, you can achieve amazing things," Richard argues.

The two overriding concepts that underpinned Richard's contribution were: 

  • Pressure is a privilege
  • Champions Adapt

When it comes to performing at our optimum there are several factors which can enhance and hinder our performance, the most fundamental driver is stress. We all experience stress and each have a different tolerance towards it. During the dinner, Richard spoke about the power of our mindset and using stress to overcome challenges and adversity.  He explained that this is a trait which all successful athletes and business professionals possess. 

In order for us to be successful, it is of fundamental importance to our physical and mental well-being that we develop the ability to identify and acknowledge the level of stress, and most importantly learn how to “switch it off”.

Richard said:

“The longer we have been stressed, the more difficult it is to shut down the stress axis. In these situations deliberate activation of the vagus nerve is a way to restore biological balance, which can be achieve by partaking in any of the following”:

  • Visceral Manipulation
  • Massage Therapy
  • Controlled Breathing Exercises
  • Swimming
  • Cold Water Facial Immersion
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Music."

Glen Pearce CFO of Sappi had the following to say:

“Thank you for a truly inspiring evening - one of the best i’ve had in a long time.”

"It truly was an eye opening evening and it was an incredible opportunity to share notes amongst some of SA’s most influential business leaders," said CFO SA community manager John Deane. "Leadership starts with us and it is our duty and responsibility to use stress to boost performance and be the catalyst to change, in our organisations, communities and country."

Top CFOs attending included: Raisibe Morathi (Nedbank), Tsholofelo Molefe (Telkom), Wayne Koonin (Omnia), Glen Pearce (Sappi), Nico Botha (Citi Bank) and Ramasela Ganda (Barloworld Equipment SA).



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