Gary McGaghey

Cues and Views

Transformative international finance leader Gary McGaghey, in brief.

Gary McGaghey

Home: Esher, London.  Age: 54.  Birthplace: Durban, South Africa.  Profession: Finance. Organization: Williams Lea Tag.  Title: Group CFO.  Significant other: My partner, Jaimie Lowe. Languages spoken: English and Afrikaans.

Current project: Group CFO of WLT, driving business carveout, separation, finance transformation and prep for sale.  Recent recognition: Appreciation of support to Fitmedia as NED.  Latest accomplishment: Refinancing of WLT.  Latest contribution to others: NED of Fitmedia.  What’s been your big (or biggest leap)? Moving from CFO roles in listed multinational, Unilever, to CFO of privately owned and PE owned multinationals, Nelsons and WLT.  Hobbies: Sports, ranging from surfing to golf to rugby and gym.  Recent travel or adventure: A month in Sydney, Australia (2022); ran the London Marathon; learnt to surf in Newquay UK; visited Riyadh Saudi Arabia (2020); completed five Duzi canoe marathons.  Last book read: Around Africa on My Bicycle, by Riann Manser.  Recent unique acquisition: A Triumph 900 motorcycle.  First motorbike I’ve owned since my twenties.

Personality profile: Adventurous, down to earth, engaging, driven.  What one word would your closest friend use to describe you? Supportive.  Moral compass: Make decisions, take action, be accountable to yourself and others.  How do you define a perfect friendship? Supportive in all situations.  How do you define an ideal business relationship? Constructively critical at all times. Always striving for improvement one step at a time, no superficial fast fixes!  What is your greatest joy? Seeing joy in others (particularly, but not limited to, my family) and finding happiness in oneself.  What is your greatest fear? Not being seen as a trusted member of the team.  What is your guilty pleasure? Always making time for some form of exercise, no matter how busy.  What word or phrase do you use far too often? Just make a decision and take action.  Even the wrong decision and action is better than none.  What natural talent have you neglected? My ability to engage deeply with people.  What occupation, other than your own, do you most admire? Any occupation devoted to saving lives, e.g., nurses, paramedics, surf/sea/mountain rescuers.  What is your favorite place (or way) to spend money? On my dogs.  What is at the top of your bucket list? Surfing in Sri Lanka.  How do you relieve stress? Gym, running.  What is your go-to workout? Hitt.  What ingredient is essential to your perfect vacation? Travel, activity and exercise.

What was your first paying job? Accounting article clerk.  What was your favorite college course? Economics.  What was your favorite childhood toy or game? Risk.  What’s prominently featured on your home or office wall? Photo of my kids.  Besides your parents, who has had the greatest influence on your life? Kees Krythoff, a CEO I worked with previously. What’s the best advice you received growing up? You need to support yourself; don’t look for excuses or handouts.  What’s the best advice you received in your career? Nobody likes a smartarse.  What modern technology innovation do you most appreciate? iPhone and iPad. What is your go-to source of news and information? The Times Newspaper app on my phone. What company or organization do you most admire? Remgro Ltd.  They take the long-term view in value creation.  What personal circumstance has had the greatest influence on your life? Growing up with limited financial resources.  I needed to get a scholarship to be able to afford to go to university and avoid national conscription into the South African army to fight in a war I didn’t support.

What change are you working on to effect in your profession or field?

Learning to refinance a business, operate under severe liquidity stress and execute a carve out and sale in the world of PE.

What change would you like to see in the world? Greater compassion and a smaller differential between the economic “haves and have-nots.”  What message do you want to send out into the world? We are more the same than we are different.  What widely held belief do you reject? That Brexit was a good thing for the UK.  Putting up walls is never a good strategy.  What mega-trend most excites you? IT connectivity.  What mega-trend most concerns you? The fragility of personal reputation in an age of “fake news” and half-truths.

What title would you choose for the movie about your life? The Fighter.  What actor would you choose to play you in the movie about your life? Nick Nolte.  Who would you like to spend an evening with, in heaven? Nelson Mandela.  As a kid, what did you first want to be when you grew up? A company CEO.  After your loved ones, what object would you first save from your burning home? My dogs.  How would you choose to spend tomorrow, if you knew it was your last day on earth? With my partner, children and dogs; repairing relationships.  What advice would you give your younger self? Be more patient and trust yourself.  What day in your life would you choose to re-live? It’s never a moment that makes the difference; it’s the days and months leading up to the moment that you could have influenced the outcome, and those that come after.  What period in your life would you do differently, if you could? My late forties.

Personal mission: Finding happiness, peace and contentment.  Personal motto: You need to do the hard yards.  Find forgiveness in yourself and others.  Favorite quote: “Life is just a game of inches” (and the entirety of that speech by Al Pacino as Coach Tony D’Amato in Any Given Sunday).

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