“Most Men Are Sexists in Business”-Wendy Appelbaum, South African Billionaire.
Wendy Appelbaum is the only daughter of South African tycoon Donald Gordon. She previously served as a Director at the Liberty investors insurance and real estate firm her father founded and was one of the company’s largest individual stake holders. Appelbaum grew up in a family environment where the glass ceiling did not exist and where the entrepreneur spirit and business acumen will pass down to her and her brothers every single day. A practice that would go on to build the power house in South African business infrastructure.
“My father was on the edge of making a great career for himself so he was pretty busy so we didn’t see him much. He was up early and came home late at night and my mother was a very good corporate wife so consequently, we were probably neglected children. My younger brother always said I brought him up. And actually, he is a very nice man so I think I did a pretty good job. So we were pretty independent. My parents sort of let us do what we like. It was a very good recipe I have to say.”
“[My father] certainly had an enormous effect on my life and the fact that he loved his job to the extent that it wasn’t a job. There was this fascination with doing a deal. You know at some point when you look at the businessman’s life where he has made enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life, what is that motivation that keeps him going to the office, that keeps him doing it? It’s the deal. It’s the adrenaline. It really becomes something way above just making a living.
Is she being pressured to fill her father’s shoes
“…You know the interesting part about being a woman is that there was very little pressure on me. If there was any pressure, it was the pressure to get married at a young age and bear children and be a good mother and those kinds of things. What I chose to do was entirely my choice and there was very little pressure on me to do anything about that. The pressure that I put on myself was absolutely self motivating.
…I really wanted to be a doctor. That was what I really wanted to be. And then I had the hindsight, at this stage of my life, I probably would have been a much better lawyer. So my life automatically followed the business route. But it was the challenge, it was the fun. I mean, can you imagine me sitting and doing nothing all day, it would be a disaster.”
On calling out her father as a sexist
My father turned 75 and he said he is only frightened of one thing in his whole life and that was me. In fact, I think it’s part of my character that I do stand up to power anywhere. I really I’m not frightened of anything or anybody. I mean, what was he going to do? For sure, he wasn’t going to kill me. Even if he was angry, he would get over it. And actually it would be far more important that I had made him sit up and think about what was realistic. That was what it was. He never had a woman on his boat. He never really had any woman in high management. He didn’t particularly have any advisers as a woman. They were all men. He was a sexist. And one day he stood up and he was talking to a room of lawyers and he said he’s never ever seen an outstanding female lawyer at which point a woman jumped up in the audience and absolutely took him to pieces which was fantastic. Read:Why Do Men and Women Prefer Male Bosses?
…Most men are sexists in business. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind. Why do women trail the way they do in the business world? Because they are not given the opportunities that men are given.
…I often look back on my life and feel quite sorry for my mother. I was born very strong. It was probably the first time that it was picked up publicly that I spoke up to him. But I spoke up from a very young age about absolutely everything. I’ve always been outrage about things that are wrong, are unfair, unjust. It’s just my nature. It was probably one of the first times that it was concertized for him and he started to think about the fact that what he was doing was not correct.”
Is Wendy Appelbaum feminist?
I think I have always been a feminist. I think some people say it is an unattractive thing to be. But how can you not be a feminist when there is no equality for men and women? I really don’t understand that. I believe in fighting for the rights of every underdog and if women are the underdog…they will get my support at every turn.”
“I do believe that passion is absolutely essential to anything you do. So wake up in the morning, if you don’t like your job, change it. If you don’t like your life, change it. Because you need to be happy and you need to be motivated to get on and do something meaningful” – Wendy Appelbaum
To read more on Wendy Appelbaum interview with Forbe’s Peace Hyde, Click HERE