Nicolaas Kruger, CEO, Momentum
The Upper Echelon series is brought to you by Deloitte and Moneyweb. Each week we will interview some of the key business decision makers in South Africa and give you insight into their daily challenges, lessons learnt and plans for the future.
Upper Echelon Podcast: Nicolaas Kruger, CEO, Momentum
Nicolaas shares his experiences as CEO of Momentum and how Marinus Dahling at Sanlam gave him career advice to study actuarial science as a platform for a business career. Nicolaas is also a part-time Buffalo farmer.
Momentum CEO Nicolaas Kruger was catapulted into his position on January 1 2009 at the age of just 41. His predecessor, EB Nieuwoudt, had left suddenly in his late 40s. As Momentum is the larger party in the merger with Metropolitan (see Money & Investing) Kruger is now the favourite to become CEO of the merged entity. Like the CEO of Metropolitan, Wilhelm van Zyl, Kruger is an actuary. He started his career at Momentum in July 1991 as an actuarial assistant before qualifying the following year through the Faculty of Actuaries in Edinburgh. He was appointed chief actuary of Momentum when he was 29 and held the position for 10 years. Merging with other businesses is not new for Kruger, who was one of the executives in the acquisition teams for Southern Life in 1998, Sovereign Health and Sage in 2005 and African Life Health in 2006. From 2000 to 2004 he was responsible for putting in place improvements in the capital management of Momentum, which operated on a lean capital base with no surplus capital and very little capital risk, as it sold its share portfolio and kept the proceeds in cash. In the process he worked intimately with FirstRand’s finance department. Will Kruger miss the input from the group when Momentum is unbundled later this year? “I accept that FirstRand made a strong contribution to our capital management, but these skills have been transferred from the bank to Momentum. “In any case, we will continue to work closely with the bank so long as it makes commercial sense.” Kruger got line management experience in 2005 and 2006 as head of Momentum’s group business division, which covered health and employee benefits as well. He also ran Momentum Africa. His experience in knocking together businesses was valuable in executing the merger of four medical scheme administrators into Momentum Medical Scheme Administrators. He was appointed chief financial officer of Momentum in 2007. Kruger farms with scarce wildlife and Nguni cattle on a part-time basis at the family farm in the Karoo. He is married to Betsie, a general practitioner, and they have three children
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