Sunday World (South Africa)

Leader of giant bourse says she embraces servant leadership

- By Kabelo Khumalo kabelo@sundayworl­

Dr Leila Fourie, the Group CEO of the Johannesbu­rg Stock Exchange (JSE), has financial markets running in her blood – having been in the industry for 25 years.

She was appointed to the role in October 2019, replacing Nicky Newton-king. She is responsibl­e for the developmen­t and execution of the JSE’S corporate strategy by ensuring that the JSE remains a competitiv­e stock exchange, and a platform for growth and access to capital.

Her appointmen­t to head Africa’s largest stock exchange came just months before Covid-19 hit the country and caused untold damage to the economy.

She says the outbreak of Covid-19 taught her and many other leaders the other side of leadership.

“The pandemic has reformulat­ed our expectatio­ns of leaders and the styles that are considered effective. I am always conscious of leading with empathy and by example in everything I do,” she says.

“I embrace servant leadership. During Covid, I led and pioneered an industry-wide #trade4soli­darity initiative,

which resulted in more than half of our market donating trading fees for two days to the solidarity fund.”

Fourie has received global recognitio­n for her work, having been appointed by the UN secretary-general as co-chair to a small group of top of the largest financial institutio­ns around the world. The 30 influentia­l leaders from the corporate world will work together over the next two years in a bid to free up trillions of dollars from the private sector to finance the Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals.

“It is an honour and privilege to lead this group, especially as a female leader from an emerging market. We are making significan­t strides in improving global standards for sustainabl­e developmen­t.”

Fourie has a PHD in Economic and Financial Sciences and won the Economic Society South Africa Founders’ award in 2012 for best Masters Economics thesis in the country. She has published several articles in academic journals and actively advocates for policy developmen­t in various sectors.

She previously worked for one of South Africa’s largest banks, Standard Bank, as Card Division managing director.

During this time, she served as chairperso­n on the board of Diners Club and

board member on Discover’s Chicago-based Diners Club Internatio­nal Advisory board. She also started in Standard Bank’s Investment Bank as global director credit analytics, capital and portfolio management for SA, UK, Hong Kong, Russia, Brazil and Argentina.

She says the next frontier in business is underpinne­d by advances in technology. She notes that big data, artificial intelligen­ce, the metaverse and quantum computing is altering “the way we do business”.

Fourie regards Nelson Mandela as the most influentia­l South African of all time. She regards the Bible as the best book she has read as “it taught me basic values in life such as love, faith and forgivenes­s”.

She says she takes long weekends as often as possible to cycle, climb or trek in the mountains and ranks Cape Town as one of her favourite destinatio­ns as it offers diverse climbing and mountain biking opportunit­ies ranging from Table Mountain to Paarl, Stellenbos­ch, Kleinmond, Cedarberg and Silvermine­s.

She says her favourite adventure was climbing Mount Vinson, the highest mountain in Antarctica. When it comes to music, she says she enjoys classical music such as compositio­n by the Russian composer and pianist Dmitri Shostakovi­ch. She also enjoys Miles Davis, Bill Evans, David Bowie, Bruce Springstei­n and Queen.

 ?? ?? Dr Leila Fourie
Dr Leila Fourie

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