Global Citizen: Prieur Du Plessis

13 January 2016

“To do a job well and establish your niche, you need to find new and better ways of doing things. Often this involves having the courage to go against the norm,” says Professor Prieur Du Plessis.

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Professor Prieur Du Plessis developed an interest in the stock market in his early teens, purchasing his first shares when he was just 12 years old. But following the market crash in 1969, his parents persuaded him to enroll in a Bachelor of Science degree in Quantity Surveying at the University of Cape Town. He graduated in 1979, and went on to become the youngest partner in a leading firm of quantity surveyors at 26 years.

Still passionate about investments, Du Plessis completed his MBA (cum laude) and Doctorate in Business Administration at Stellenbosch University before spending 11 years in Sanlam’s investment division, where he was responsible for managing investment portfolios of R35 billion.

At the age of 40, Du Plessis resigned his top executive position at Sanlam to start Plexus Asset Management, a company widely respected for its innovative approach to investments. Indeed, one of his proudest professional achievements was receiving the AHI/Old Mutual Enterprise of the Year Award in 1997, two years after Plexus was established.

Over the next two decades, Plexus would go on to become a household name among investors, collecting more accolades along the way. In 2001 Du Plessis received the Santam/AHI Business Leader of the Year Award for corporate leadership, and was named Alumnus of the Year in 2011 for his outstanding business achievement by the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

In 2012, Plexus merged with Grindrod Asset Management, giving Du Plessis the freedom to transform his career to reflect his passion for business on a larger scale. In the same year, Stellenbosch University appointed him to a number of board committees.

Du Plessis says his business philosophy can be summarized by a famous quote from Robert Townsend, “If you don’t do it excellently, don’t do it at all. Because if it’s not excellent, it won’t be profitable or fun, and if you’re not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing there?”

He adds, “To do a job well and establish your niche, you need to find new and better ways of doing things. Often this involves having the courage to go against the norm.” 

Du Plessis is a member of Henley & Partners’ Advisory Board, which is an independent, non-executive group of distinguished individuals who, from time to time, consult with the Executive Committee on strategy and new business ideas, philanthropic initiatives and other important matters.

Du Plessis says, “As globalization gathers momentum, second residence and citizenships have become topics of significant interest among an increasing number of internationally mobile entrepreneurs and investors. I envisage this trend to continue and more and more governments and individuals to turn to professional advisors such as Henley & Partners.”

Outside of work, Du Plessis describes himself as an avid runner, and is currently training for the 2016 Boston Marathon having already completed races in South Africa, New York, London and Paris.

Du Plessis concludes, “I continue to invest in a full and diverse life. My overriding life philosophy is passion. Once you are passionate you have the enthusiasm to be bold.”

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