Adriana Marais

23rd March 2018


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Full Name: Dr Adriana Marais
Position: Head of innovation, SAP Africa

Main Activity of the Company: Enterprise resource software and business solutions

Date and Place of Birth: I am 34 and was born in the Eastern Cape

Education: BSc (Hons) (theoretical physics) – first class, University of Cape Town, 2004; MSc (quantum cryptography) – summa cum laude, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), 2010; PhD (quantum biology), UKZN, 2015

First Job: At age 14, I got tired of asking (unsuccessfully) for a raise in my pocket money, so I got a job at a Mr Delivery call centre

Career History Prior to Current Position: I am a theoretical physicist by training and worked as a lecturer and a researcher before my current position

Size of First Pay Packet: I used to earn thousands of rands in tips as a waitress over the Christmas holidays during high school

First Job with Present Group: I began working at SAP Africa a year ago – in my current position

Value of Assets under Your Control: I have no idea! If we get to Mars, what is the value of a planet?

Number of People under Your Leadership: Not stated

Management Style: I do not enjoy being told what to do, so I treat others accordingly

Personal Best Achievement: When I was 21, I left the country with R1 000 in my pocket and a 30 kg backpack. I was abroad for two years of adventure from the UK to Japan, doing whatever jobs I could find – from teaching English to cocktail bartending. I have run ultramarathons, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and done a ten-day silent retreat. However, I am of the view that my biggest achievements most certainly lie ahead. As one of 100 astronaut candidates to move to Mars in the next decade, I hope to be one of the first humans to consider another planet home

Professional Best Achievement: National and international awards for my research in quantum biology and astrobiology

Person Who Has Had the Biggest Influence on Your Life: I try to learn something from everyone I have the pleasure of meeting. My parents played an important role in always having encouraged my curiosity – before Google, they used to take me to the public library to find answers to my increasingly detailed questions

Person Who Has Had the Biggest Influence on Your Career: I have been lucky to have had several inspirational mentors in my career

Person You Would Most Like to Meet: Not stated

Businessperson Who Has Impressed You Most: Elon Musk

Philosophy of Life: The allure of the unknown is far more powerful than the comfort of the known

Biggest Ever Opportunity: To be one of the first humans to establish an off-earth settlement

Biggest Ever Disappointment: Small-mindedness

Hope for the Future: A multiplanetary society standing for peace and cooperation

Favourite Reading: Currently reading Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari

Favourite TV Programme: The Expanse, The Big Bang Theory

Favourite Food/Drink: Wine

Favourite Music: Jazz

Favourite Sport: Trail running

Favourite Website:

Hobbies: Travel

Car: A rental or an Uber

Pets: I am the godmother of a darling dog called Pica

Miscellaneous Dislikes: People who lack vision

Favourite Other South African Company: None

Favourite Foreign Company: Wikipedia

Married: No

Children: I am the proud aunt of Emma and Benjamin

Clubs: None

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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