The telecoms CEO who started as a bank teller earning R247 per month

David Meintjes is one of South Africa’s most experienced telecommunications executives and has been a key Internet business player from the start in the country.

Meintjes served as financial director, commercial director, and CEO of UUNET SA, the first commercial ISP in South Africa.

He recalls the early days of the Internet in South Africa, which he said ran like a veld fire after commercial services were launched. “It forgave good and bad decisions,” said Meintjes.

After leaving UUNET SA, he joined software development company Korbitec Holdings as its chief operating officer.

His passion, however, was the online world and he joined Connection Telecom – which was founded in 2004 by Steve Davies and Rob Lith – as Managing Director in 2009.

Under Meintjes’ leadership the company showed exceptional growth and Connection Telecom is now South Africa’s market leader in cloud communications.

Meintjes’ first job and path to the top

Meintjes’ first job was as a bank teller and he was paid R247 per month – money which helped to fund his studies.

Meintjes, who is a chartered accountant, completed B.Com, B.Com Hons, and M.Com degrees in Business Management at the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU).

He was involved in various activities at university, including golf, water polo, and fishing, and was named RAU’s Sportsman of the Year in 1984.

His master’s degree dissertation helped him to enter the IT and Internet market in South Africa, however.

“I did a dissertation on ‘electronic tools in the supply chain’ and it grabbed me,” Meintjes told MyBroadband.

“It was also at the time when the Internet started to gain traction in South Africa and it was a great match for my interests.”

After completing his studies his rapid rise to the top was thanks to working in a field which he loved and putting in the “hard yards”.

Meintjes said serving as CEO has many advantages, including working towards a shared vision with a great team and the satisfaction of achieving business milestones.

It also has challenges, like dealing with employees not pulling their weight, self-promoting individuals and resistance to change in the fast-evolving IT market.


Meintjes’ tech and business choices

Here are Meintjes’ tech and business choices.

Which smartphone do you use?

Apple iPhone.

Which laptop do you use?

Apple MacBook Pro.

apple-macbook-pro

What is the best gadget you have ever bought?

My iPhone.

What is the worst gadget you have ever bought?

A Bondwell laptop.

What Internet connection do you have at home?

Fibre-to-the-home.

What is the best investment you have ever made?

Putting my energy into the businesses I have been involved in.

What is the worst investment you have ever made?

Investing in international technology companies at the height of the hype of 1998. The meltdown was worse than Bitcoin last year.

What is the best business book you have ever read?

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap‎ by Jim Collins.

Now read: Cell C CTO Dana Bakker’s tech and business choices

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The telecoms CEO who started as a bank teller earning R247 per month