AB WHAT IS THE NATURE OF YOUR BUSINESS? WHERE DID IT ALL START?
NL: I am a director at Delta Built Environment Consultants (Pty) Ltd (Delta BEC). As the name suggests, we are built environment consultants and cover the following professional disciplines: consulting engineering (civil, structural, electrical and mechanical); architecture; quantity surveying; project management; town and regional planning. We also have in-house support functions like legal, project finance advisory, project development (feasibility studies, business/project plans), economic impact analysis, and environmental management.
The business traces its origins back to 2005 when it was established as a business unit of Virtual Buro, which later changed to Virtual Consulting Engineers. In 2007 it was established as a separate company under the Virtual Consulting stable. It changed its name and left the Virtual Consulting stable in December 2012.
AB: WHAT ARE THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN YOUR CAREER?
NL: The most memorable moment in my career was when I quit investment banking to start up Luthuli Sithole Attorneys with a friend in Durban. We had done all the research and planning we could do, but we had not been able to work on the networks and line up as many potential clients as we would have liked – as this was difficult to do while in full-time employment. So I was excited and nervous at the same time.
AB: ANY BAD MOMENTS YOU CAN RECALL? IF YES, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
NL: The bad moment that comes into mind is a very difficult relationship with a professional colleague. We were involved in a large transaction and we seemed to be on opposing sides when in fact we should have been on the same side given that one of my clients was a subsidiary to the company she was legal advisor off. She wanted to dictate to me on a specialist area of law she had no expertise in. The relationship got so bad that at one point she called and abused me on the phone with my partners listening. My partners lost their cool but I managed to calm them down. I took the abuse on the chin and let my work do the talking. I prevailed in the end and today we are back on good terms.
AB: DO YOU THINK YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION REGARDING REACHING YOUR FUTURE GOALS?
NL: Yes, I think I am in the right direction to reach my future goals. I see myself in one of the following “straddle combinations” in the future:
– business and law
– business and politics
– law and politics
AB: WHERE TO FROM HERE?
NL: Continue to work hard, one day at a time, towards realising my future goal – to help create a better society, country and continent.