What is your role at OpenCorporates?
I joined full time as Chief Financial Officer in January 2020 after working as a consultant for OpenCorporates from September 2019. I oversee the finance function and as a result I am also involved in shaping the strategic direction of the organisation from a financial management perspective.
What drew you to work for OpenCorporates?
I was super glad to come onboard, predominantly because of the team.
We are a fast, busy and growing organisation that has always got a lot on. Our ambition as an organisation is something I can stand behind. The vision of becoming the number one works for me – of being the world’s foundational data source. I can sign up to that.
Also, being among like-minded people who are pushing themselves as well as pushing you is the working environment that brings out the best in me.
Tell us more about your background
I am a qualified accountant through the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). I have done the traditional ‘work your way up’ route that many accountants do, starting in junior roles and then moving up to being a financial manager and financial controller.
For the majority of my career, I have worked in high-growth SMEs or startup businesses. My role has often been to help them accelerate their growth and impact.
How does your professional background inform how you see the value of OpenCorporates’ data?
In my previous roles as an accountant, I probably logged into Companies House once every two days. Working as a finance professional in different industries, it was important to have access to information on people and companies that is openly and readily available.
This is because it gives you a picture of who the people are that you are doing business with, whether it’s a new supplier or a new business partner, without them being able to pull the wool over your eyes.
I now use OpenCorporates to look up all of that information instead. Mainly because with Opencorporates you get a global view on that information.
Before I started to work here, I did not know that OpenCorporates could give me all of that information. Now I am part of the push to make this information available for the whole world, and I feel wholeheartedly aligned to this mission.
What have been the highlights for you of working at OpenCorporates so far?
I started working as a contractor for OpenCorporates so it was really nice to be asked to come on permanently. Being asked to join the Executive Committee has also been a real highlight for me, as I can help enable OpenCorporates’ ambitious plans for growth and social impact from a financial management perspective.
What do you think is important about what OpenCorporates does?
Without getting too philosophical about it, there is enough evil in the world. So if we have some ability to make the conducting of illicit or anti-social activity more difficult, then I am onboard with that. It is not fair that some people go through life benefiting from the exploitation of others or skirting around tax obligations or financial crime laws, while the majority of people pay their taxes and do things the right way.
I’m glad that OpenCorporates is helping to shine a light on how companies can be used by bad actors – therefore enabling journalists, investigators and others to investigate illicit or anti-social activities.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up for half of my childhood in Cape Town and the other half in a small town in the north of South Africa called White River, which is very close to the Kruger National Park. I was schooled in Pretoria and went to university in Stellenbosch, both in South Africa. So now, living in London, I would call myself a small town boy in a big city! Although I have lived in London now for eight years.
Do you have a favourite book, film or TV series?
I love non-fiction biography books. My favourite book is probably Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, although that may be because I read it on a yachting holiday around Greece for three weeks!
I watch a lot of TV at the moment. Right now I am watching Succession, Schitt’s Creek and Afterlife.
Tell us something about you that people might not know…
For the vast majority of my life I sang in a choir. I have even toured the world singing in choral competitions. I absolutely love animals and I run a conservation charity called Salubrious. As part of this, I run an event every year for the charity which is a sports day in the park.
Want to know more about OpenCorporates’ mission?
OpenCorporates’ mission is to make the world’s company data open for all.