Philip Krawitz, Executive Chairman of the Cape Union Mart Group of Companies, recently addressed a YAD Business Breakfast. These highlyregarded YAD breakfast forums are generously sponsored by Investec.
Aside from being a very successful businessperson, Philip is also an inspirational role model. He serves on the boards of many Jewish and cultural organisations including United Herzlia Schools (past Chairman and current Chairman — UHS Board of Trustees), South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Past Chairman of Cape Committee and current member of the National Executive Committee), United Jewish Campaign (Chairman of the Board of Trustees), the South African Holocaust & Genocide Foundation (Trustee) and Ikamva Labantu (Trustee).
All this from the son of humble immigrant parents. So what were the magic ingredients of his success and how do we as the observer benefit from his example? Philip’s parents taught him about hospitality — they became the friendly store for visitors arriving at Cape Town Harbour over the years, even providing maps to their store by meeting the new arrivals on small tugboats whilst out at sea! They went out of their way to do things a little bit differently to stand out from other larger businesses.
Fast forward to today and Philip is respected as a business leader, with 130 Cape Union Mart stores and 40 more planned. He is a mentor to many, who ‘check in’ with him on a variety of issues as his opinion and insights are highly valued. He is an ‘information sponge’, reading widely, and was the Chamber of Commerce’s youngest-ever president. Philip’s main message was about Tikkun Olam — repairing the world. He encouraged each person to take responsibility for their own development, be helpful to others, and importantly to take on leadership roles; be in at your child’s school, your shul or the broader South African community.
He encouraged the audience to not just be observers, but also to be positive role models. He challenged us to do something small that would impact positively and change someone else’s life, even for a day. Relationship-building was critical to his success; and being an active member of the community opened doors that would otherwise not have been possible. Through communal involvement, networking with giants in industry became commonplace — “it’s the net worth of the network” that was critical.
Philip emphasised that what one did for others was far more important at the end of the day than the material rewards of being successful.
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