Posted on May 11, 2021
Investment officer Russell du Preez (52), founder and chairman of investment house RussellStone Group and an owner of the popular Pretoria eatery Varsity Bakery, graduated with a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics during the University of Pretoria’s (UP) autumn 2021 graduation session.
But that might well be just another stepping stone in his academic journey. “I think that I might be coming back for a PhD,” says Du Preez, who also obtained his BCom Economics (1989) and BCom (Hons) Economics (1991) degrees at UP.
As a business owner, Du Preez says that the business insights he’s gained are only partly due to his studies – the rest comes down to his outlook of constantly being a learner. “Academic achievement is only a part of success,” he says. “Anyone that is committed to their own development can achieve enduring, long-term success.”
His RussellStone Group is a case in point. The business has 1 200 employees and a yearly turnover of about R5bn. “We handle all kinds of commodities and animal products,” Du Preez explains. “We’ve invested in USA, Australia, Argentina, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and have a clear understanding of markets and flow of capital and money. We look enthusiastically at our future prospects as we continue to invest and diversify in all areas of the agricultural value chain. The two AAA-rated investors we have on board attest to our stable and reputable track record as an investment partner.”
Varsity Bakery, near UP’s Hatfield Campus and long popular with students, is yet another example of Du Preez’s business outlook in practice. It has been operating for nearly 40 years, and its longevity and success can be attributed to the embracing of changing dynamics. “We believe that we should be in the whole value chain, and that retail is very important,” explains Du Preez. “We believe that it has developed our understanding of how an area can change and how you should adapt or die. Varsity Bakery has been around since 1982; it is an institution in Pretoria that needs to be preserved.”
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