In October, the Hub was greatly privileged to host Elias Masilela at our last Meet the Leader for 2018. Despite being humble and quiet by nature, Elias is a force to be reckoned with in South Africa’s political and economic landscape.

His bio makes for an awe-inspiring read. Director of DNA Economics and a part-time commissioner on the National Planning Commission, Elias is also a Director of the South African Savings Institute; a founder member of the Financial Sector Charter Council and a former member of the Advisory Board of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Pretoria. 

Until recently, Elias was the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Investment Commission (PIC) and a Director of the South African Reserve Bank.  He has previously held senior positions with Sanlam, the Central Bank of Swaziland and was the Deputy Director General of the South African National Treasury.

Elias has also published two very interesting books – Number 43 Trelawney Park: KwaMagogo and Larry, Simply Larry. Both detail his fascinating upbringing in Swaziland, where his family home served as a headquarters for passing ANC and PAC cadres who were involved the South African liberation struggle. Hub members were lucky to be able to discuss the main messages in his books with him and purchase a few copies for ourselves.

During the evening, Elias shared numerous pearls of wisdom which made for amazing and perfectly tweetable clips:   

  • One’s ability to influence and get people to listen to you is a function of your office. You should never take this position for granted and constantly remain accountable to the office. Do not get drunk on the power of the office.
  • Never make decisions in your own interests for short-term gain. Make decisions that you can stand by and will be proud of the next day. Base them on principle and not on personhood.
  • Be yourself and be authentic when making decisions, rather than being influenced by the power of the office. Otherwise, upon leaving the office, you will regret decisions that do not match your character.
  • Respect every person and do to the next person what you would like done to yourself
  • Be careful what rungs you climb on your way up, as you may need to step on them again on your way down
  • Always learn from others – the good, and the bad. Follow the good only.
  • Always, always, always have a mentor!
  • Those in governance need to value integrity. If there was integrity in the world, there would be no need for regulations or policemen. Always do the right thing, even if no one is watching.

Elias also emphasized the need for civic engagement and the importance of each South African taking responsibility for the welfare of the country. Our problems are too big for government to solve alone, thus he spoke about change starting at the individual rather than institutional level. This includes changing the narrative around South Africa and spreading more positive news to build confidence and change behaviours in our country.

It was truly an inspiring evening and the hub is so grateful to Elias for making time in his busy schedule to come speak to us.