Meet The 7 South African Business Leaders Taking The UK By Storm


Seven of the best and brightest South African business leaders in the UK have been nominated for the prestigious South African Chamber of Commerce  ‘Business Leader of the Year Award’.

These seven individuals have made their way from South Africa to the UK over the years and in doing so have contributed to the successful management of their businesses.

Their outstanding leadership qualities, openness, engagement, strong values, and strategic vision for change have got them this far and will result in one of them walking away with this year’s Business Leader Award.

If any of the super seven inspire you, feel free to vote for them by following the links beneath each of the nominees.

1.Avi Lasarow: CEO – DNAFit

Avi Lasarow

Hailing from Johannesburg, Avi Lasarow is described as a ‘lifestyle genetics pioneer’ know for his work associated with DNA testing. He is currently CEO of a lifestyle genetic testing company DNAFit.

Founded in 2013, DNAFit is the first company to use DNA testing for both combined fitness and nutrition on such scale, using a simple mouth swab to test over 50 different genes related to sport performance and nutrition.

Both Lasarow and the company have received numerous awards in the UK, with Lasarow being the first South Africa inducted into the City of London Entrepreneurs Guild.

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2. Hans Karlsen: Founder & Managing Director – Karlsen Associates Limited


Hans Karlsen grew a start-up from zero to $1.6 million revenues in first two years of operation. Over and above being a successful startup founder, Karlsen is a natural leader, enabler, engineer and negotiator with over 25 years of industry experience in a variety of high technology sectors.

Karlsen has served as a CEO, managing director, board member, senior advisor and finance director (CFO).

He describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur” with the drive, persistence, passion and ability to identify and pursue high-value opportunities.


3. James Endersby: Managing Director/Managing Partner – Opinium Research

James Endersby

James Endersby has grown research and insights agency, Opinium Research, from a small London start-up to an international insight agency with clients all over the world, including South Africa.

His business grew 50 percent last year, and won an international research award for its work with the London School of Economics measuring democratic engagement around the world.

Endersby helps build better futures for children from the poorest countries in the world in his postition as Interim Chairman for Street Kids International.


4. Robert Hersov: Founder and Chairman – Invest Africa


Robert Hersov founded Invest Africa three years ago, after spotting an opportunity to create a platform for the growing number of individuals becoming involved in pan-African investments.

Invest Africa is a network of decision makers at top global organisations, fund managers, private investors, family offices, entrepreneurs, and policy makers – all with a common interest in Africa.

Hersov has launched operations in London, New York, Johannesburg, Geneva, Zurich and Dubai and has amassed hundreds of high level members.

5. Simon Walker: Director General – Institute of Directors


As the public face of the Institute of Directors, and the most senior representative of the membership, Simon Walker engages with senior figures from across government, politics and Whitehall, and debates regularly in the media.
Previously Walker has worked in senior communications roles at Reuters and for HM the Queen. Before being appointed Director General, Walker served as Chief Executive of the BVCA, an organisation that represents British private equity and venture capital.
In 2015, GQ magazine listed Walker among the 100 best connected men in the country.

6. Talita Ferreira: CFO – BMW


In her current role as CFO, Talita Ferreira leads the Finance, Strategy, IT and HR areas at BMW UK. She is a Chartered Accountant and qualified as Chartered Director with the Institute of Directors in 2013.

Ferreira has built an international career in the finance and automative industries, working in South Africa, Germany and the UK.

With a passion for inspirational leadership, Ferreira has delivered tangible financial results for the business while developing and bringing her team with her on the journey.


7. Viola Ncube: Director of Sales & Marketing – IHG; Founder – IROCK!UK

viola ncube 2

Viola Ncube is a senior global Business, Sales and Marketing executive who, to date, has opened 11 hotels globally in London, Belfast, New York, Chicago, Miami, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beirut and Bangalore.

Ncube founded IROCK!UK, an accredited social enterprise providing mentoring and training for young people, especially (but not exclusively) to those of Afro-Caribbean origin. This demographic is given access to life and employability skills that lead to either valuable work experience or paid employment.

Ncube has global experience working in the USA, China, Beirut, Africa and Europe.


The South African Business Awards will be presented to the winners at a prestigious event in the Conservatory at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Harrington Gardens, Kensington, London on the evening of Wednesday 20th April. Each Business Award nominee will be presented with a framed certificate honouring their Business Award nomination with the winner in each category receiving the attractive desktop South African Business Award. A feature of the Business Awards evening will be the five star Tastes of South Africa buffet consisting of twelve of your favourite South African dishes.

Source: The South African

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