Nikki Maritz: The driving force behind IBTC

1.    What is your role on the management team and IBTC as a whole?
My role as CEO is often called the ‘visionary’ role. I must admit that it’s a bit of a misnomer, this word ‘visionary’. My problem is that it sounds like my role is to sit back and dream grand plans for our future. But in reality, dreaming of the future is a small part of what I do. The real work is keeping that dream alive. Constantly checking that it’s the right dream and making sure that we are doing what’s necessary to achieve our dream. Just to put the record straight, the business of dreaming is a lot of hard work!

My second job is to break new ground. To forge new relationships, pathways and directions for us to go into. That’s always an interesting one, because it takes you right back to first principles, akin to starting a new business, where you have to get back to basics and get involved in all the detail again. So that’s the challenge, I guess – to keep sight of the big picture while working on the detail.

2.    You co-founded IBTC.  Do you have any advice for woman wanting to start their own business?
I don’t know if my advice to women will be different to my advice for men. I have never worked in a very male-dominated environment. Somehow, I have always found myself with strong female leaders. When I think about it now, I was probably intuitively attracted to environments in which strong women could thrive. So, I guess my advice to women is to seek out environments where a women’s strength is not viewed as a threat. 

In conclusion, I guess my real advice to women is to find an environment in which you can thrive. If you like combat, go there. If you enjoy strong female leaders, go there. If you enjoy the challenge of a male-dominated environment, go there. But never settle for an environment in which they believe you are any less than you really are.

3.    Is there a woman that you look up to, who inspires you?
I love Naledi Pandor. I wish she was president of our country. Not that I mind Cyril, but Naledi just ticks all my boxes.

4.    If you had one wish for women in this country, what would it be?
My wish is that women don’t feel that they have to be men to succeed. That women surround themselves with people who believe in them more than they do, until they do. My wish is that women go easy on themselves. That we realise we don’t need to be hard to survive. My wish is that women can be soft and nurturing and still go as far as they want to. 

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