Farewell to Don Hope

Address by Dr Reuel J. Khoza (Chairman of Nedbank Group Limited, Aka Capital  and author of several books including Let Africa Lead and Attuned Leadership) to “Nedbank Group Technology Leaders”  I  1 August 2013

The English proclaim that “Deeds speak louder than words.” A cousin of mine, SJ Khosa, a prolific composer who passed on about a month ago, creatively gave this dictum powerful expression in a contemporary African (Classical) song, titled “MINTIRHO YA VULAVULA”.

The lyrics go as follows:
Deeds speak, they speak in a language
A language that is understood by everyone
Be still, deeds themselves shall speak
Deeds will manifest themselves to everyone.
Good deeds never hide,
No, not at all.

Get away you treacherous one
You who live by deception
Get off the way of progress
You, get off!

Be still, deeds themselves shall speak.

Indeed good deeds speak the language of delivery, the language of results, the language of influence and positive impact.

There are people who communicate through deeds, more so, than through words. Don Hope personifies, in fact epitomises this. Less said, lots done, a great deal accomplished.

About two years ago we ran a process designed to depolarise Board and Exco and to get everyone to get to know one another better. When Don was reflecting on the feedback, he told the board that the consultant who facilitated the session made the comment: “We don’t know whether you are an introvert or just antisocial”. Don though this was very funny – and true! This does sum up Don – he listens, he thinks, he analyses and when he is ready he has conversations on a one to one basis with his colleauges. Always in a thoughtful, considered way.  This quietness often hides a person who has been passionate about assisting Nedbank.

Without  any flamboyance, Don built up a good relationship with the regulator and national treasury that helped both Nedbank and Old Mutual.

He got on well with the board and was always happy at board meetings as long as he was sitting next to Wendy Lucas Bull, who could do no wrong in his eyes!

Don always likes to get into tricky issues and has enjoyed his time on the Remuneration Committee, learning and educating all the time. I get the sense that he admires the way Thenjiwe chairs the committee and she was fast taking over Wendy’s vacant position in Don’s eyes!

I know he is sad to leave the board and has very much enjoyed working with Tom, Mike, Graham and Raisibe.

At Group level Don was given the unenviable task of running Bermuda post Julian’s appointment in September 2008. Bermuda was a horror for the Group that consisted of a large portfolio of unhedgable guarantees proved on a bewildering array of funds, guarantees expressed in US dollars.

Don had to endure both the serious task of trying to defuse the bomb and ribbing by his colleagues. Don is infamous for naming projects and most of his colleagues are continually baffled by the wide array of strange names they have to get to grips with.  In the fix Bermuda project Don named it Project Kakapo after a bird close to extinction … it’s a type of parrot found on some obscure island that when under attack sits dead still to avert danger.  Don was pivotal in moving the apparently immovable, untying the Gordian knot.

Bermuda has now ceased to be Old Mutual’s nightmare ... thanks in large measure to Don Hope.

Aristotle opines that “In the arena of human life the honours and rewards fall  to those who show their good qualities in action”. In similar vein Philip James Bailey comments that “We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not figures on a dial. We should count time in heart throbs. He lives most who thinks most, feels the noblest, and acts the best”.

By evidencing these traits and values, Don, you have been a bountiful boom to the Nedbank Group!  Fare thee well!!