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Geoff Baars

Geoff Baars, chairperson and CEO NMG Benefits

Geoff Baars, chairperson and CEO NMG Benefits

10th November 2023

By: Creamer Media Reporter

     

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Full Name: Geoff Baars

Position and Company Name: Chairperson and CEO of NMG Benefits

Main Activity of the Company: Provision of healthcare and retirement funds consulting and administration to corporate South Africa and its employees

Date and Place of Birth: June 18, 1965, Johannesburg

Schools and Tertiary Education: Kensington Ridge; Cyrildene Primary; King Edward VII School for Boys (the best boys’ school in South Africa then and especially now!); University of the Witwatersrand (actuarial science); Macquarie University, Australia (MBA)

First Job: Trainee actuary at Swiss Reinsurance Company in Johannesburg, 1987

Size of First Pay Packet: R2 200 a month

Career Path to Date: Marketing actuary (that’s not a joke, it’s a real role) at Swiss Re South Africa from 1987 to 1989; marketing actuary at Swiss Re’s head office in Zurich from 1990 to 1992; founder and chairperson of NMG Group (Singapore and Perth) since 1992

Value of Assets under Your Control: R2-billion

Number of People under Your Leadership: About 750 employees worldwide, of whom 360 are in South Africa

Management Style: Enthusiastic (that is, passionate, sometimes too much so) and impatient (ditto)

Personal Best Achievement: Still to come . . . I’m proud of what NMG has achieved – we’re a genuinely global business, started by four South Africans, and South Africa is now less than one-third of our total revenues

Person Who Has Had the Biggest Influence on Your Life: My father, Geoff Baars Snr, ‘The valves specialist’ – he featured regularly in Engineering News

Person Who Has Had the Biggest Influence on Your Career: My partner and cofounder of NMG, Mark Prichard – he is a relentless improver with endless curiosity

Person You Would Most Like to Meet: Bill Gates – his impact outside business (through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, especially) has been even bigger than within, and his efforts to solve problems that governments have failed to solve (such as malaria control and neglected diseases) are astonishing

Businessperson Who Has Impressed You Most: Elon Musk – he is clearly slightly mad (and rubs lots of people up the wrong way – sometimes just for fun), but his business CV is incomparable: PayPal, SpaceX, Starlink, Tesla, The Boring Company, et cetera. He’s had a rough ride at X (Twitter), which shows he can be wrong

Philosophy of Life: When in doubt, be generous; and even if it doesn’t ‘come around’ you’ll sleep better

Biggest Ever Opportunity: Right now – at NMG Benefits, we look after the healthcare and/or retirement savings of about 200 000 families in South Africa and another 160 000 in Botswana

Biggest Ever Disappointment: I don’t dwell on the mistakes or the past – I strictly look forward

Hope for the Future: That South Africa fulfils its potential. To do so, it needs a competent and clean government. Our country has had visionary leadership for only five years of its entire history (between 1994 and 1999)

Favourite Reading: Contemporary fiction (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie and Ian McKewan, besides others). I ‘cheat’ by buying all the novels on the Booker Prize shortlist each year and (hopefully) read them

Favourite TV Programme: It’s a tie between The West Wing and The Wire – the two best TV series of all time! More recently, I loved Schitt’s Creek (I cried like a baby at the end), and I am enjoying The Blacklist. I am a big fan of Netflix original series, another amazing innovation

Favourite Food/Drink: I eat (canned) tuna and (canned) beans for lunch four days a week (at least), and my favourite drinks are ‘big’ and bold – all the Islay whiskies, nice bitter IPAs, strong coffee, big red wines (Cape Blends, Cote Rotie), and so on

Favourite Music: South African jazz – McCoy Mrubata, Thandiswa Mazwai and Winston Mankunku Ngozi, among others

Favourite Sport: Rugby to the age of 18; nowadays cycling (10 000 km a year). I also love both mountain biking and road cycling

Hobbies: Playing the saxophone (alto and tenor), reading (including audio books), travel (especially to France), learning new languages (I’m currently learning French and Zulu, via Duo Lingo – a fabulous app!)

Car: A ten-year-old Hyundai i30 turbo diesel. I’m not a car guy; I hope the engineers won’t be offended

Pets: Dogs only – Ridgebacks and rescues

Miscellaneous Dislikes: Cats (pointless pets) and people who put their own self-interest above their clients’ interests

Married: To Marie-Claude

Children: Evan, 31; Lena, 29; Brendon, 27; Emma, 25

Clubs: None

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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