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The 50 Richest People In The World

Tech moguls, retail giants, heirs and heiresses, and entertainment powerhouses are coining it. Here’s what’s inspired the world’s top billionaires, most of whom are self-made.

Diana Albertyn

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Bill Gates

50. Leonardo Del Vecchio

Leonardo Del Vecchio

Leonardo Del Vecchio

“Work always came before everything. If I’d started selling fruit, I’d be passionate about fruit.”

Luxottica announced plans to merge with French lens manufacturer Essilor in January 2017, making Del Vecchio and his family the world’s largest producer and retailer of sunglasses and prescription glasses. EssilorLuxottica, is set to control 27% of the global eyewear market. 

  • Net worth: USD17.9 billion
  • Age: 82
  • Country: Italy
  • Industry: Eyewear
  • Source of wealth: Luxottica

Related: 5 Frugal Habits of the World’s Richest People

49James Simons

“The things we are doing will not go away. We may have bad years, we may have a terrible year sometimes. But the principles we’ve discovered are valid.”

The MIT graduate, who was a codebreaker for the U.S. during the Vietnam War, founded hedge fund firm Renaissance 35 years ago and stepped down from his company seven years ago. He’s still active in the firm’s massive success and excellent performance. 

  • Net worth: USD18 billion
  • Age: 79
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Hedge funds
  • Source of wealth: Renaissance Technologies Corp. 

48Stefan Quandt

“We have set the course for the future and are very happy about a successful generational change at the top of the company.”

The BMW heir owns over 25% of the automaker and sits on the company’s supervisory board. As deputy chairman, he’s tipped to head the board following his parents’ death. Quandt is also the 94% owner of solar module maker Solarwatt which has partnered with BMW to provide solar power for rooftop systems and carports. 

  • Net worth: USD18.3 billion
  • Age: 51
  • Country: Germany
  • Industry: Automobile
  • Source of wealth: BMW.

47Charles Ergen

“When you deal with change, you have a couple choices: You can lead it and make the rules, or you can be a fast follower, or you can be a slow follower.”

37 years ago he was selling satellite dishes in rural Denver from the back of a truck. Today he’s the CEO of satellite TV company DISH Network which has more than 14 million subscribers. 

  • Net worth: USD18.3 billion
  • Age: 64
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Satellite TV
  • Source of wealth: DISH Network. 

46Leonid Mikhelson

“Even by the most pessimistic valuations, the project is feasible.”

Founder and chairman of natural gas producer Novatek, Mikhelson began his career building a gas pipeline in Russia’s Tyumen region as a foreman for a construction company. He is also chairman of gas processing and petrochemical company Sibur. 

  • Net worth: USD18.4 billion
  • Age: 61
  • Country: Russia
  • Industry: Gas, chemicals
  • Source of wealth: Novatek 

Related: Meet The 40 Richest Self-Made Entrepreneurs On Earth

45Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud

prince-alwaleed-bin-talal-alsaud

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud

“If I’m going to do something, I do it spectacularly or I don’t do it at all.”

Alsaud’s holdings include stakes in ride-sharing firm Lyft, social media firm Twitter, Citigroup, and hotel management company Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. In 2016, he joined Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition with the promise of a USD50 million investment. 

  • Net worth: USD18.7 billion
  • Age: 62
  • Country: Saudi Arabia
  • Industry: Investments
  • Source of wealth: Kingdom Holding Co.

44Theo Albrecht, Jr.

“If the frontline people do count, you couldn’t prove it by examining the reward systems in most organisations.”

The Aldi supermarket chain based on a no-frills, low-price strategy similar to WalMart is the Albrecht’s family’s claim to fame. Theo Albrecht Jr. and the heirs of his brother, Berthold, inherited a corner grocery store which grew into one of the world’s great retail fortunes. 

  • Net worth: USD18.8 billion
  • Age: 66
  • Country: Germany
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: Aldi Nord, Trader Joe’s. 

43Stefan Persson

“A store is more than a place to buy something. Today’s customers seek inspiration and experiences.”

Hennes & Mauritz, otherwise known as H&M, has made Persson Sweden’s richest person. The global cheap chic fashion retailer has to average one store opening a day to meet its goal of a 10% annual increase in new stores. After retiring as CEO in 1998, his son Karl-Johan took over. 

  • Net worth: USD19.6 billion
  • Age: 69
  • Country: Sweden
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: H&M 

42Paul Allen

“In my experience, each failure contains the seeds of your next success if you are willing to learn from it.”

Microsoft cofounder Allen plays guitar in a rock band called the Underthinkers, has three professional sports franchises and owns aircraft company Vulcan Aerospace. The two-time cancer survivor has given away more than USD2 billion, including USD500 million to his Allen Institute for Brain Science.

  • Net worth: USD19.9 billion
  • Age: 64
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Technology
  • Source of wealth: Microsoft, investments, self-made.

Related: 6 Unlikely Characteristics Common Among Billionaires

41Laurene Powell Jobs

“My relationship with money is that it’s a tool to be self-sufficient, but it’s not something that is a part of who I am.”

Founder and chair of the Emerson Collective, an organisation that uses entrepreneurship to advance social reform and to assist under-resourced students, Powell Jobs isn’t just the widow of tech billionaire Steve Jobs. The Laurene Powell Jobs Trust owns 2.5% of Disney while her Apple share is only 0.7%.

  • Net worth: USD20.2 billion
  • Age: 53
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Technology
  • Source of wealth: Apple, Disney

40Len Blavatnik

Len Blavatnik

Len Blavatnik

“It’s the thought of what WMG could be in the future that makes me want to stay in the music business for a very long time.”

The owner of Warner Music Group made a fortune selling his stake in Russian oil company TNK-BP for USD7 billion in 2013. His company Access Industries holds stakes in LyondellBasell, Rocket Internet and Tory Burch. 

  • Net worth: USD20 billion
  • Age: 60
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Diversified
  • Source of wealth: Access Industries 

39Susanne Klatten

“It would be nice if you could solve some problems with money. But the world is not that simple. The money is supposed to be a catalyst.”

Germany’s richest woman and her brother, Stefan Quandt, together own almost 50% of BMW. The economist and MBA-holder helped turn pharmaceutical company Altana AG around after inheriting 50% from her parents. Despite her inherited fortune, Klatten doesn’t just want to be known as an heiress, especially at 55. 

  • Net worth: USD20.4 billion
  • Age: 55
  • Country: Germany
  • Industry: Automobile, pharmaceuticals
  • Source of wealth: BMW, Altana AG. 

38Michael Dell

“I will care about the company after I’m dead.” 

Tech mogul Dell’s fortune mostly lies in his private investment firm MSD Capital. The company’s whose wide range of investments includes the Four Seasons Hualalai in Hawaii and a reported USD63 million stake in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. 

  • Net worth: USD20.4 billion
  • Age: 52
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Technology
  • Source of wealth: Dell computers, self-made. 

37Joseph Safra

“I had ambition not only to go farther than any man had ever been before, but as far as it was possible for a man to go.”

Owner of Banco Safra, Brazil’s eighth largest bank, Safra was born into a Syrian banking family. Safra also owns Swiss bank J. Safra Sarasin Safra National Bank of New York and 50% of Chiquita Brands International. His real estate portfolio includes a London skyscraper nicknamed the Gherkin.

  • Net worth: USD21.4 billion
  • Age: 78
  • Country: Brazil
  • Industry: Banking
  • Source of wealth: Self-made, diversified investments.

Related: 10 Secrets For Developing A Millionaire Mentality 

36Georg Schaeffler

“Today we are where we wanted to go, the fight has paid off; only it took a little longer.” 

Law graduate Georg joined his mother Maria-Elisabeth in running Schaeffler in 2009. Maria-Elisabeth and Georg now own 46% of Continental through Schaeffler Group and holding company, Schaeffler Verwaltungs GmbH. Now a US resident, Georg is the head of the supervisory board of Schaeffler Group and a member of the supervisory board of Continental.

  • Net worth: USD20.7 billion
  • Age: 52
  • Country: Germany
  • Industry: Automotive
  • Source of wealth: Schaeffler Group

35Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen

“When children play games or build their own creations in the physical world, they actively challenge both the laws of nature and intellectual and physical limits.”

Kristiansen’s grandfather Ole started making wooden toys in his workshop in 1932. Today in addition to his real estate and wine farm investments, he and his three grown children hold a 75% in Lego, where Kristiansen’s son Thomas is vice-chairman. 

  • Net worth: USD21.1 billion
  • Age: 69
  • Country: Denmark
  • Industry: Toy manufacturing
  • Source of wealth: Lego 

34Masayoshi Son

“A person’s life is over in 50, 100 years. But a company lives on through the people it is composed of, and SoftBank group has to survive even after I’m gone.”

Son’s mobile telecom and investment firm SoftBank acquired struggling U.S. mobile phone carrier Sprint Nextel for USD22 billion in 2013 and promised a USD50 billion investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund in US companies and create 50 000 jobs. 

  • Net worth: USD21.2 billion
  • Age: 59
  • Country: Japan
  • Industry: Internet, telecom
  • Source of wealth: SoftBank 

33Mukesh Ambani

“I don’t think that ambition should not be in the dictionary of entrepreneurs. But our ambition should be realistic. You have to realise that you can’t do everything.”

100 million subscribers are enjoying the benefits of the launch of 4G phone service Jio in India. Oil and gas tycoon Ambani sparked a price war in the country’s hyper-competitive telecom market with his free broadband and voice services.

  • Net worth: USD23.2 billion
  • Age: 60
  • Country: India
  • Industry: Petrochemicals, oil and gas
  • Source of wealth: Reliance Industries 

Related: 10 Powerful Habits That Will Make You a Millionaire

32Lee Shau Kee

“When I was young, business came first, then wealth, then health and finally family. Now it’s health first, then family, then my business and lastly wealth.”

Started in 1976, property giant Henderson Land Development now makes up the bulk of Kee’s wealth. From humble beginnings, joining forces with one of Hong Kong’s most powerful families has enabled Kee to donate over USD400 million toward education over the years.

  • Net worth: USD24.4 billion
  • Age: 89
  • Country: Hong Kong
  • Industry: Real estate
  • Source of wealth: Henderson Land Development

31Ma Huateng

“Ideas are not important in China – execution is.”

The brainchild of Huateng, popular social network WeChat is a mobile texting app which also works as a mobile wallet. Used by 800 million people, WeChat, and Tencent’s other popular services, have led the social media firm to becoming one of China’s most valuable public companies. 

  • Net worth: USD24.9 billion
  • Age: 45
  • Country: China
  • Industry: Internet media
  • Source of wealth: Tencent Holdings

30George Soros

George Soros

George Soros

“Making an investment decision is like formulating a scientific hypothesis and submitting it to a practical test. The main difference is that the hypothesis that underlies an investment decision is intended to make money and not to establish a universally valid generalisation.”

From railway porter and waiter to Wall Street, Soros established his own hedge fund in 1969 with USD12 million. Almost half a century later, Soros remains a powerhouse through Soros Fund Management, his family office which boasts USD30 billion in assets.

  • Net worth: USD25.2 billion
  • Age: 86
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Hedge funds
  • Source of wealth: Soros Fund Management LLC. 

29Maria Franca Fissolo

Like her late husband, who avoided interviews and prized secrecy, she avoids being in the limelight.

It all started when Fissolo’s father-in-law Pietro set up a lab to supply his wife’s pastry shop during World War II. The region’s surplus of hazelnuts helped combat the rationed cocoa and the spread that would eventually become Nutella was created.

Fissolo’s husband Michele took after his father’s death, building up Ferrero Group into one of the world’s leading sweets companies, before his death in 2015. Fissolo runs the company alongside her son Giovanni, in their bid to keep the business family-owned. 

  • Net worth: USD25.2 billion
  • Age: 82
  • Country: Italy
  • Industry: Confectionary
  • Source of wealth: Ferrero Group 

Related: The 5 Mistakes Standing Between You and Your First Million

28Phil Knight

“There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

Former track runner Knight retired from the company he started with his coach over 50 years ago in 2016. Blue Ribbon Sports was started with USD1000 capital and today has become a billion dollar brand. 

  • Net worth: USD26.2 billion
  • Age: 79
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: Nike 

27John Mars

“If you make a really good product that people want and are willing to pay for, money will come.” –  John’s late brother Forrest Mars, Jr.

Established in 1911, Mars Inc. isn’t just a candy factory. John and his sister Jacqueline’s inheritance also makes Uncle Ben’s rice and pet food, including Pedigree and Whiskas. After their brother Forrest Jr died in 2016, his daughter became chairman of the USD35 billion company started by their grandfather Frank. 

  • Net worth: USD27 billion
  • Age: 81
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Confectionary
  • Source of wealth: Mars Inc.

26Jacqueline Mars

“There’s a real moral imperative in being an organisation that takes the time to sit and listen to the customers and the people they’re serving.”

Serving on the boards of six other organisations, horse lover Jacqueline joined Mars Inc. in 1982, where she oversaw the development and marketing of new food products. In 2016 she retired from the board after leaving the company 15 years prior. She now owns a farm that has trained horses ridden by Olympic medallists. 

  • Net worth: USD27 billion
  • Age: 77
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Confectionary
  • Source of wealth: Mars Inc.

Related: From Zero to Billionaire – Self-Made Billionaire Paths

25David Thomson

david thomson thomson reuters

David Thomson

“Dynamic duos are the stuff of corporate legend: Sears and Roebuck, Roy and Walt Disney, Hewlett and Packard, and the like.”

Thomson and his family own media and publishing empire Thomson Reuters founded by his grandfather Roy, where Thomson serves as chairman. The Thomsons are also stakeholders in telecom giant Bell Canada and own the Globe and Mail newspaper. 

  • Net worth: USD27.2 billion
  • Age: 59
  • Country: Canada
  • Industry: Media
  • Source of wealth: Thomson Reuters 

24Beate Heister and Karl Albrecht Jr.

“There are only two ways to establish competitive advantage: do things better than others or do them differently.” – Karl Albrecht Sr.

When the ownership of retail powerhouse Aldi was divided in 1961 Beate and Karl Jr’s father Karl Sr. acquired stores in southern Germany, and the rights to Aldi in the UK, Australia and the US. While Beate has never worked for the family business, she, her husband and their son sit on the advisory board.   

  • Net worth: USD27.2 billion
  • Age: 66 and 69
  • Country: Germany
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: Aldi 

23Jack Ma

“I want to change history, do something important in my life, and influence individuals like we have with millions of small businesses on Alibaba. Then they love and respect you because you made their life important.” 

In 2014 e-commerce firm Alibaba set a record as the world’s biggest public stock offering. Ma has since forged an alliance with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners in an attempt to boost to a struggling effort so far in the entertainment industry.

  • Net worth: USD28.3 billion
  • Age: 52
  • Country: China
  • Industry: eCommerce
  • Source of wealth: Alibaba.

22Jorge Lemann

“In day-to-day life, you have stimulus to behave unethically, but in the long term, it always pays off to be ethical.” 

The former journalist and professional tennis player is known for his affinity for mergers and acquisitions since cofounding investment company 3G Capital in 2004. Along with frequent deal partner Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Lemann facilitated the megamerger of Kraft and Heinz and took over SABMiller and Unilever.

  • Net worth: USD29.2 billion
  • Age: 77
  • Country: Brazil
  • Industry: Diversified
  • Source of wealth: 3G Capital 

21Steve Ballmer

“Great companies in the way they work, start with great leaders.”

Ballmer dropped out of Stanford University to join friend Bill Gates at Microsoft in 1980 and 20 years later became CEO – a position he held for 14 years. Today he’s the proud owner of NBA franchise he Los Angeles Clippers, now his main venture. 

  • Net worth: USD30 billion
  • Age: 61
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Technology
  • Source of wealth: Microsoft

20Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson

“The next move can’t be smaller than the last.”

Former reporter and mortgage broker hit the jackpot when he sold his company for USD860 million in 1995 and used the capital to build the Venetian Casino Resort and the Sands Expo Convention Center. The casino magnate has since expanded and taken his gambling conglomerate, Las Vegas Sands, public.

  • Net worth: USD30.4 billion
  • Age: 83
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Real Estate
  • Source of wealth: Las Vegas Sands

19Li Ka-shing

“You can believe in Fung Shui if you want, but ultimately people control their own fate. The most important thing is to improve yourself and give it your best. Then many things previously thought to be impossible will become possible.”

At 22, Ka-shing opened his own factory after dropping out of school six years prior to support his widowed mother and siblings. Today CK Hutchison Holdings, is a vast business empire with interests in real estate, manufacturing, energy, telecommunications, and technology. His venture-capital fund Horizon Ventures has backed companies like Facebook, Skype and Spotify. 

  • Net worth: USD31.2 billion
  • Age: 88
  • Country: Hong Kong
  • Industry: Diversified
  • Source of wealth: CK Hutchison Holdings

18Wang Jianlin

“Don’t ally your personal interests with the development of the company.”

Jianlin’s diverse Dalian Wanda Group involves various sectors and includes Wanda Commercial Properties, Wanda Cinema Line, British yacht maker Sunseeker and US-based AMC Entertainment. His latest investment – aside from a stake in various sporting initiatives – is Legendary Entertainment, the producer of blockbusters The Dark Knight and Jurassic World. 

  • Net worth:  USD31.3 billion
  • Age: 62
  • Country: China
  • Industry: Real Estate
  • Source of wealth: Dalian Wanda Group 

17Alice Walton

“One of the great responsibilities that I have is to manage my assets wisely, so that they create value.” 

WalMart founder Sam Walton’s only daughter has, unlike her brothers, stepped away from involvement the family’s superstore business, still holding a major stake in the company. The art lover is the chairman of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and boasts an art collection valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • Net worth: USD33.8 million
  • Age: 67
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: WalMart 

16Jim Walton

“There is critical mass with high-speed Internet connections, so video is a good user experience. And that means there can be critical mass for advertisers.”

Jim runs the family’s Arvest Bank, which boasts assets of over USD16 billion. In 1982, he co-founded the Community Publishers Inc. which today is one of the largest publishing companies in the country. Jim and other heirs of his father Sam – Alice and Rob – collectively own an excess of half of WalMart’s stock. In June 2016 he stepped down from the board and was replaced by his son Steuart. 

  • Net worth: USD34 billion
  • Age: 69
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: WalMart, Arvest Bank. 

15S. Robson Walton

S. Robson Walton

S. Robson Walton

“I learned from my dad that change and experimentation are constants and important. You have to keep trying new things.”

WalMart heir Rob Walton stepped down as chairman – following his father Sam’s death in 1992 – after 23 years at the helm in 2015. His son-in-law took over, but Walton still sits on WalMart’s board. 

  • Net worth: USD34.1b billion
  • Age: 72
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: WalMart 

14Liliane Bettencourt

“Man is fond of formulas that Assen its employees as ‘Work is invincible’ or ‘Intelligence is the ability to see the sets and the views of others,’ all it takes not too much.” 

The world’s richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt may not actively run the company she inherited from her father, cosmetics giant L’Oréal but she’s still making a fortune. Her current net worth of almost USD37 billion is a USD3 billion increase from last year. After her dementia diagnosis, her grandson replaced the elderly heiress on L’Oréal’s board in 2012.

  • Net worth: USD39.5 billion
  • Age: 94
  • Country: France
  • Industry: Cosmetics
  • Source of wealth: L’Oréal

13Sergey Brin

“Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world.”

The president of Alphabet, holding company of Google, Russian native Sergey Brin is America’s richest immigrant. Alphabet was formed following the restructuring of Google in 2015, allowing Brin to focus on exploring inventive new projects and ideas.

  • Net worth: USD39.8 billion
  • Age: 43
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Technology
  • Source of wealth: Google 

12Larry Page

“You never lose a dream; it just incubates as a hobby.”

Google cofounder Larry Page heads up parent company Alphabet, which is involved in everything from home automation to self-driving cars and prolonging human life. The one thing the alternative-energy advocate has splurged on is his eco-friendly mansion that uses geothermal energy and rainwater capture. 

  • Net worth: USD40.7 billion
  • Age: 44
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Technology
  • Source of wealth: Google

11Bernard Arnault

“When you are on the management side, you still have to understand the artistic sensibility so that there is a dialogue with the creative side.”

For 28 years he’s been at the helm of an empire of 70 luxury brands and an estimated 3900 retail stores under powerhouse LVMH. In addition to the likes of Tag Heuer, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, family parent company Groupe Arnault also owns supermarket chain Carrefour.

  • Net worth: USD41.5 billion
  • Age: 68
  • Country: France
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: LVMH 

10Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg

“Entrepreneurship is having an idea to do something great and not entirely have a plan in how to do it, but the drive and willpower to make it work.”

Wall Street isn’t a bad career start, but being fired from investment bank Salomon Brothers in 1981 spurred former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to cofound financial information and media company Bloomberg LP. His stake in the company is worth USD45 billion and he’s donated some of that fortune to causes including gun control and climate change. 

  • Net worth: USD47.5 billion
  • Age: 75
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Media
  • Source of wealth: Bloomberg LP

9David Koch

“I’m basically a libertarian, and I’m a conservative on economic matters, and I’m a social liberal.”

Executive vice president of Koch Industries David, runs his late father Fred’s company with his older brother Charles. Their business manufacturers a variety of items, but David has other interests like his David H. Koch Charitable Foundation to which he donated USD1.2 billion last year following his conquering of prostate cancer.

  • Net worth: USD48.3 billion
  • Age: 77
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Diversified
  • Source of wealth: Koch Industries 

8Charles Koch

“I’ve always believed in the saying that ‘there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.’”

Charles Koch has been at the helm of Koch Industries – the second largest company in the US – for 50 years. He and his brother David are politically influential, often spending hundreds of millions on political campaigns and causes.

  • Net worth: USD48.3 billion
  • Age: 81
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Diversified
  • Source of wealth: Koch Industries.

7Larry Ellison

“When people start telling you that you’re crazy, you just might be on to the most important innovation in your life.”

Tech tycoon Ellison stepped down as CEO of Oracle Corp. in 2014 after 38 years on the job. Four years prior he’d reduced his annual salary from USD1 million to USD1. Today he’s the company’s chief technology officer and stock awards have ensured he takes home over USD60 million. He is a member of Giving Pledge, an initiative by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, committing to give away at least half of his fortune.

  • Net worth: USD52.2 billion
  • Age: 72
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Software
  • Source of wealth: Oracle Corporation

6Carlos Slim Helu

“I don’t believe too much in luck. I believe in circumstances. I believe in work.”

Born into an entrepreneurial family, Helu became the richest man in Mexico after inheriting his father’s retail and real-estate businesses and building a diversified portfolio of investments in the financial, industrial, telecommunications, and media sectors. His company, Grupo Carso, acquired state phone company Telmex, which now owns 80% of the telephone lines in Mexico, making him the richest man in his country. 

  • Net worth: USD54.5 billion
  • Age: 77
  • Country: Mexico
  • Industry: Telecom
  • Source of wealth: Grupo Carso 

5Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

Already a millionaire by 23, the last 10 years have seen Mark Zuckerberg skyrocket in wealth and success. All because he wanted to “improve people’s lives, especially socially”. Yes, even he says it sounds corny, but the Facebook mogul has managed to do just with his USD400 billion social network. Connecting billions of people is his proudest achievement, but he couldn’t have done it without risks long the way.

  • Net worth: USD56 billion
  • Age: 33
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Technology
  • Source of wealth: Facebook

4Amancio Ortega

“I am the property of my business, not the reverse.”

The richest man in Europe’s love affair with fashion began in a small family company manufacturing textiles. From delivery boy to owner of fashion titan Inditex, since co-founding retail giant fashion giant – and the company’s biggest success – Zara in 1975 with his then wife Rosalia Mera, Ortega has spent his more than USD400 million in dividends on multiple properties across Europe and the US. 

  • Net worth: USD71.3 billion
  • Age: 81
  • Country: Spain
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: Zara 

3Jeff Bezos

“If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table.”

The CEO and founder of Amazon went from selling books online to creating an online platform consumers’ dreams are made of. In addition to founding the fastest company ever to reach USD100 billion in annual sales, Bezos owns an aerospace company, Blue Origin and US publication, The Washington Post.

  • Net worth: USD72.8 billion
  • Age: 53
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Retail
  • Source of wealth: Amazon.com

2Warren Buffett

“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behaviour is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”

When Warren Buffett bought textile company Berkshire Hathaway in 1969 he began the building of his massive fortune. Today it serves as a holding company for many lucrative investments including Apple, Coca-Cola and American Express. True to the frugal nature of those in his class, Buffett still stays in the first home he purchased in the 50s and has donated in excess of USD25 billion to charity.

  • Net worth: USD75.6 billion
  • Age: 86
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Investment
  • Source of wealth: Berkshire Hathaway

1Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Bill Gates

“A bad strategy will fail no matter how good your information is, and lame execution will stymie a good strategy. If you do enough things poorly, you will go out of business.”

Currently the richest person in the world for 18 out of the past 23 years, in 2014 Bill Gates stepped down as chairman of Microsoft, the company that he cofounded in 1975. Gates regularly sells his Microsoft shares and now owns 2.3% of the company where he’s a technology advisor and board member.

  • Net worth: USD86 billion
  • Age: 61
  • Country: USA
  • Industry: Technology
  • Source of wealth: Microsoft

Diana completed a BA in Journalism in 2010 and has honed her skills as a newspaper reporter, senior communications specialist and most recently worked at a weekly magazine as a writer. She joined the EMTS Group in 2016 as a writer for Entrepreneur magazine and SmartCompany Networks. Passionate about honing her writing skills and delivering exceptional client results, Diana continues to keep a finger on the pulse of industry news and insights.

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Joel Stransky Shares His Insights On What Makes A Great Leader

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Dirk Coetsee

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Posters displayed on companies’ walls representing the business’ Vision and value system are a common occurrence. A general value that numerous companies share is to be client centred and to provide excellent service. Yet, unfortunately a proportion of companies do not live according to their values as tools to actualize their collective Vision.

An observant individual would take only a few seconds to notice that the Leadership group at Pivotal has gone to great lengths to establish a definitive and value driven culture as well as a motivating climate for their team members. As I waited in the reception area I was met with smiles from several people passing by and there was generally no way to assess what their position was as they were all casually dressed, friendly and approachable.

Related: 5 Things Businesses Can Learn From Rugby

Enters Joel Stransky just as friendly as the rest of the team, also casually dressed, also wearing a smile. As a founding director of the innovative Pivotal Group, he explained that their value proposition particularly in Pivotal Talent, is the use of Augmented Intelligence and data analytics within the “human capital space”.  The application of AI and data makes talent acquisition and career guidance much less of an enigma and challenge as opposed to the recent past where traditional talent acquisition and career guidance methods became less and less successful and more and more time consuming.

The “pivot” of the 1995 Victorious Springbok world cup team shared that he always starts off an employee-employer relationship with the assumption of mutual trust and respect. He believes that once you have put in the sincere effort to understand people better, bigger belief in them is a natural result.

“The greatest asset in business is people,” Joel passionately explained and added that it is possible for a brilliant product to fail in the long run when the wrong people are employed.

pivotal-group

“Hiring the right people that would not only help sustain the current culture but add more value to it is critical to any team or companies’ sustainable success,” Joel explained. The Millennial generation think differently and have different expectations from a working environment, therefore it is a critical factor for any manager and/or Leader to understand what drives the emerging generation and also how to manage the polarity of generational gaps.

Related: Servant Leadership – Will You Serve?

As a result of diversity and generational gaps Leadership and management has become a fascinating space to operate within South-Africa as not only cultural and language barriers might offer a challenging HR environment, the millennial generations unique behaviours amplify the need for useful adaptations within all spheres of work.

As a practical example, employee X is twenty-three years old. Some of the key questions that management needs to figure out, that is if they sincerely want the best for, and the best out of employee X, are:

  • Is X motivated by monetary rewards and/ or does she/he need a regular hug to feel part of and add to the company culture?
  • Does X need to interact with management socially for example be taken out do dinner?
  • What skills does X have or lack that impacts his/her performance?
  • It is impossible to motivate someone else. In what way can I create an environment for X wherein he/she can motivate himself/herself and excel?

How you satisfy Xs’ needs and manage all related factors to his or her needs has become critical success factors in how we as leader’s approach career development in general.

Reflecting on the development of his own sports and business career, as well as his family life Joel is adamant that whatever drives you in sport also drives you in business and within your family life. Whatever he has achieved within all aspects of his life came as a result of setting goals and making those goals a reality.

Both in sports and in the business world within South Africa there is a general tendency towards over structured management and coaching. Although a structure and daily management is an integral part of business and sports, a paradigm shift towards inspirational Leadership that empowers other leaders to succeed is key in terms of serving others and creating a motivating and sustainable environment within which all team members can thrive.

Reflecting on Joels’ observation: “Our countries’ value chain is broken” the moment has most certainly arrived within which more and more value driven and ethical Leaders, emerging from all generations must arise and collectively work towards an improved future.

Critical to the actualisation of a collective future vision is the development of Leadership skills therefore one of the keen interests of the author is to recognise and learn from other Leaders’ character traits. Joel’s’ highly effective communication skills underpinned by the core people skill of active listening quickly came to the fore as he could quote part of my question and comments in each of the very insightful answers that he provided. His keen willingness to innovate and to create inspiring working environments makes his enthusiasm and skill as a Leader tangible.

Let us all challenge ourselves to learn from prime Leadership examples offered by individuals such as  Joel Stransky and leave more and more Leaders behind for only in such a way can an inspiring future be built.

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Nhlanhla Dlamini Not Only Has Guts, But Grit – In Spades

An alumnus of WBS and Harvard Business School, Nhlanhla Dlamini did some soul searching when he was doing his MBA at Harvard, and knew that the corporate ladder, although tempting, was simply not going to be enough.

Wits Business School

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It takes guts to venture into entrepreneurship. And when you’re in a ‘cushy’ job with a top global auditing firm who are grooming you for partnership, it takes even more guts.

Nhlanhla Dlamini not only has guts, but grit – in spades.

An alumnus of WBS and Harvard Business School, Nhlanhla did some soul searching when he was doing his MBA at Harvard, and knew that the corporate ladder, although tempting, was simply not going to be enough.

“I started thinking, ‘what is the best thing I can do with my life?’”, recalls Nhlanhla. “I always felt a pressing need to get involved in lowering the unemployment rate in South Africa.  It’s a notoriously difficult space, but entrepreneurship is the real engine of job creation and I felt compelled to rise to the challenge.”

When he left his job at McKinsey in March 2015, Nhlanhla decided to explore the agricultural sector – having no idea what product or what part of the value chain he would end up in. He spent until December that year exploring the agri-food sector, gaining as much understanding as he could about the entire industry by talking to famers, co-ops, agricultural associations and various other stakeholders.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

“I wanted to export products to the US and I looked at tree nuts, blueberries, dairy products or meat. Because of stringent FDA regulations, meat wasn’t an option – but a friend of mine from WBS days suggested meat in the form of pet food.”

And so Maneli Pets was born, and Nhlanhla moved his fledgling business into a factory, which he re-purposed for meat processing, in October 2016. By June 2017, he had started operations with 30 employees on board, and by September he had 50 employees.

Maneli Pets

What makes Maneli different from other US-bound pet food products in an already saturated market? The answer is high protein meat from animals that are unique to South Africa.

“I discovered a market for the off-cuts of meat  from specialist butcheries – so crocodile, warthog, ostrich etc,” Nhlanhla explains. “The result is a very high quality, high protein pet snack with a difference – and US pet owners are willing to pay for the best they can get.”

Under the brand name ‘Roam’, Maneli Pets products are exported to a pet food wholesaler in Boston, US, owned by the family of Nhlanhla’s former WBS classmate, who had planted the seed of the idea in the first place.  Nhlanhla is now preparing to launch the products under another brand name for distribution in South Africa and export to the EU.

But pet food is only the start. Maneli Pets is an offshoot of the Maneli Group, a diversified food company which is looking ooking to build further businesses in the green energy sector, while boosting black entrepreneurship.

According to a City Press report, South Africa has relatively few black-owned food production businesses, which is why government is actively promoting agro-processing and the manufacturing sector in general to spur economic growth.

Nhlanhla has worked tirelessly to secure government funding, and was thrilled to obtain R26 million from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). Just last month, he received the news that Maneli Pets had been awarded grant funding of R12.5 million from the Department of Trade and Industry’s Black Industrialists Scheme (BIS).

Nhlanhla, who was also a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, considers his PDM at WBS a “superb” way of preparing a student for the real world of work. “The group dynamics was an essential learning experience in terms of delivering on a mandate with a group with entirely different skill sets.”

Related: Edward Moshole Founder Of Chem-Fresh Started With R68 And Turned It Into A R25 Million Business

Describing himself as a “passionate and active WBS alumnus”, Nlhanhla still stays in regular contact with a core group from his PDM class, proving that one of the enduring benefits of a PDM (and an MBA) is the opportunity to connect and network with like-minded people and form life-long friendships.

Apart from what he learnt in the Entrepreneurship Management module of the PDM, such as the pillars of entrepreneurship, macro trend support and financing an idea, Nhlanhla considers the keys to success are threefold: Recognising the value of a social network, tenacity – and just a little luck!

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See Will.i.am And Malcolm Gladwell Live In South Africa

The BCX Disrupt Summit has gathered some of the world’s most innovative and disruptive thinkers to guide you and your business into the future.

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See Will.i.am And Malcolm Gladwell Live In South Africa

As one of the largest technology players in South Africa, BCX embraces disruption. As an organisation, one of its primary focuses is to move its customers into the future, not just with products and services, but a shift in mindset as well.

What tools and ideas do we need to embrace today to be ahead of the curve tomorrow? With this in mind, BCX has partnered with BrainFarm to launch the inaugural BCX Disrupt Summit.

“The BCXDisrupt Summit is a platform for South African innovators and businesses to learn from and be inspired by some of the greatest examples of possibility in the world,” says Dean Carlson, founder and CEO of BrainFarm, the event organisers.

A gathering of minds

The BCXDisrupt Summit is bringing some of the world’s greatest minds together under one roof for two days. The speaker line-up includes will.i.am, Malcolm Gladwell, Rapelang Rabana and Nick Goldman and topics covered will range from where technology is heading, to how playing games can extend your life expectancy by up to ten years.

will.i.am

will.i.am

Seven-time Grammy award winning hip hop artist will.i.am is also a significant player in the tech and entrepreneurial space, as well as a philanthropist. He was a partner in Beats Electronics, which was sold to Apple for $3 billion in 2014. “When will.i.am was 16 years old, music was where it was at,” says Dean.

“And so, he focused on building a music career, and creating products for that industry. Today he’s learning to code, because that’s where it’s at. He’s got an unparalleled handle on where the world is moving to, and so many insights to share.”

Dean has built BrainFarm on a portfolio of incredible local and international speakers, each of whom he’s seen live. “I regularly attend international conferences to get a sense of which speakers and idea-shapers I’d like to bring to South Africa,” he explains.

“will.i.am is one of those global shapers whose ideas take everything to the next level. To get maximum value from him for our delegates, we’ve chosen an interview set-up instead of a key-note talk. Local tech expert Aki Anastasiou will be interviewing him, and the audience will be able to ask questions as well. This will give us an opportunity to localise will.i.am’s knowledge and ideas.”

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

Author of five New York Times bestsellers, including David and Goliath and Outliers Gladwell is well known for introducing the concept of the 10 000-hour rule, which states anyone can become an expert in anything given enough time and practice. Dean first brought Malcolm Gladwell to South Africa in 2009.

“When I dropped him off at the airport, Malcolm signed his book for me with the words ‘Please invite me back,” says Dean.

“We’ve tried to bring him out a few times since then, but the timing hasn’t worked out. This was the ideal summit for Malcolm’s ideas, and this time, the timing worked.”

Having seen Malcolm in action many times over the years, Dean knows that he’s a speaker that always leaves his audiences wanting more. And so, the BrainFarm team thought about the best way give their delegates exactly that.

“Malcolm has developed a masterclass for the second day of the Summit that will focus on what makes a person successful, both in life and business. He’ll be unpacking tools our delegates can use to personally drive success.”

Nick Goldman

Nick Goldman

Nick is that rare breed of academic who is also an engaging and entertaining speaker. A UK-based mathematician and genome scientist, Nick is passionate about how we can store and preserve digital data.

“If you want to feed your brain, Nick is the person who will do that for you. His team recently coded five documents of historical significance onto a strand of DNA,” says Dean.

Each day, what we thought was possible changes. What does the future look like, and are you ready for it?

Related: 10 Inspirational African Entrepreneurs

Marieme Jamme

Marieme Jamme

Born in Senegal and sold into sex slavery, Marieme Jamme refused to accept the lot life had given her, and instead taught herself to code. It was a skill that enabled her to change her conditions and life. Today, through her latest venture, iamtheCODE, she has one giant, global goal: To teach one million women and girls to code by 2013.

“Marieme has a consultancy that helps tech companies get a foothold into Africa, the Middle east, Latin America and Asia, and she’s also focused on her mission to help other women and girls escape their fates by learning to code,” says Dean. “She’s one of the most interesting and inspiring people I’ve ever come accross.”

Sipho Maseko

Sipho Maseko

Heralded as the controversial CEO and saviour of Telkom, Sipho has helped the company rack up gains of 150%, making Telkom one of the best performing companies on the JSE. “A major focus of Telkom is getting businesses across Africa ready for tomorrow’s customers,” says Dean.

“To be ready for tomorrow’s customers though, you need to know who they are, and have a sense of what the future will bring.”

Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal

A game designer, Futurist and New York Times best-selling author, Jane’s TED Talk, The Game That Can Give You Ten Extra Years of Life, has over six million views to date.

Related: The 10 Strangest Secrets About Millionaires

Rapelang Rabana

Rapelang Rabana

Local tech-star Rapelang Rabana is the CEO and founder of Rekindle Learning, a company she has positioned at the crest of a rapidly rising online community across Africa.

Her mission: To deliver learning in bite-sized chunks across the continent.

Ian Russel

Ian Russel

CEO of BCX. BCX has invested millions in computer programming education so that young people from all social and economic backgrounds have the opportunity to become programmers at no cost to them.

Lars Silberbauer

Lars Silberbauer

When Lars joined LEGO as Senior Global Director of Social Media and Video, the company didn’t even have a Facebook page.

“Today LEGO has well over 12 million followers on Facebook and more than three million on YouTube where they’ve just knocked up five billion lifetime views,” says Dean.

“The big idea behind their social media campaigns is to leave the thinking to their fans. Lars understands the creative power of the crowd, and what harnessing that power can do for your business.”

Related: 8 Things Exceptional Thinkers Do Every Day

Bringing it all together

Dean Carlson

Dean Carlson

“We focus on projects that excite us, and that will change the perceptions and world views of our delegates,” says Dean. “We’ve partnered with BCX to put together an incredible event that will leave you inspired, amazed and driven to change your life and organisation – with the tools to do so.”

To find out more about the BCX Disrupt Summit or to book a seat, visit https://www.bcxdisrupt.com/

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