In celebration of a century of academic excellence at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS), a range of esteemed alumni will henceforth be profiled in weekly question-and-answer features. Today, the spotlight is on Noelani King Conradie.
A passion for excellence has consistently been a major driving force in the life of King Conradie. This not only inspired her to achieve top marks at the University of Pretoria, with distinctions for both her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees; it has set her company, NKC African Economics, apart as a leader in the global arena.
Q: What is your current position and what does it entail?
A: As the MD and Founder of NKC African Economics, my role has evolved over the past 18 years; from starting as a one-man show to managing a team of 30 professionals.
My responsibility largely centres on setting and giving strategic guidance to make sure the company achieves its long-term goals. I’m directly involved with our global business development team in identifying prospects and opportunities to grow our client base while managing our senior analysts to ensure we deliver exceptional quality and timeous research to a broad range of high-profile clients.
Q: How did your career evolve since graduating from UP, with special mention of specific highlights/milestones?
A: After obtaining my BCom (Honours) degree from the University of Pretoria, my career started at RMB Asset Management in 1995, followed by a stint as financial economist at ABSA Corporate Bank's treasury department.
After a period in the stock-brokering arena at SG Frankel Pollak Securities, I relocated to Cape Town to take on the challenge of starting an economics department at PSG Investment Bank in 1999.
Towards the end of 2002, I decided to launch an independent economic service and founded NKC Independent Economists, located in Paarl in the Western Cape. This was the result of marrying a fruit farmer in Prince Alfred’s Hamlet in the Ceres valley, knowing that once we start a family, we would move to the farm Koelfontein.
The work quickly became too much for one person, and I had to make the daunting decision of employing somebody full-time. This I did in 2003…and since then the business has grown into a team of 30 people.
From the outset, I knew that we had created a superior service by providing a comprehensive analysis of immediate and long-term prospects to organisations monitoring risks or opportunities for their operations or investments on the African continent.
Given the growing interest in, and opportunities on the continent, and despite having a small international client base at the time, I also knew we needed to take our research and services into global markets. I was once again faced with a daunting task, but fortunately in 2015 my path crossed with Oxford Economics, a leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis. Today, NKC African Economics is majority owned by Oxford Economics.
I am proud that NKC African Economics has an unwavering reputation for independence and quality. The firm employs a highly qualified team of economists, econometricians, quantitative analysts, political analysts and editors, all experts in their respective fields and with decades of experience in covering Africa. This ensures that insights are provided within the context of a comprehensive knowledge of the African continent, its history and each country’s unique political and economic setting.
Q: To what extent did your studies at UP benefit you in your career and contributed to your success?
A: An exceptional institution of higher learning, the University of Pretoria and the Faculty of EMS provided me with the knowledge to specialise, retrain and develop new skills in an efficient manner.
Q: In terms of your own studies and experience at UP, do you have any advice for current students?
A: Your undergraduate and postgraduate studies lay the foundation of the employment opportunities you will be exposed to once you embark on your career. Having performed well academically certainly opened more doors to be able to present myself as the ideal candidate that could contribute to the growth of the company that eventually employed me. The very first thing that we, as a company, look at when reviewing applicants for a position, is their academic qualifications.
Q: What is your ‘golden guideline’ that keeps you on track?
A: It’s really quite simple: I firmly believe integrity and honesty are non-negotiable.