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Alumni Focus Denver Clive Fortuin

The Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) is proud to have a host of alumni who are leaders, achievers and innovators in their fields, intent on making a difference in both the public and private sectors.  This month we focus on Denver Fortuin, who completed his Master in Business Leadership (MBL) at the SBL. 

Denver currently heads up the Governance Function at Nedbank Insurance where he has executive oversight and responsibility for the company’s Enterprise Risk Management, Compliance, Legal Services, Integrated Assurance, Actuarial Control and Company Secretarial Functions. He is the Chairperson of the highly technical Actuarial Control Committee that provides oversight of the company’s actuarial risks.

Denver also acts as the independent Chairperson of the Risk Management Committee of the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) and sits on the board of the Financial Planning Institute South Africa (FPI) as a non-executive director on a voluntary basis, chairing the Professional Body’s Strategy Committee.

His relationship with Unisa goes beyond academic endeavour; Denver has previously held the positions of Executive Director: Risk Management and Compliance, and Vice Principal: Strategy, Risk and Advisory Services at Unisa.

Denver holds a law degree from the University of the Western Cape, a postgraduate and advanced postgraduate diploma in financial planning from the University of Free State and has also completed programmes in compliance and corporate governance at the University of Johannesburg. He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and is currently pursuing the Chartered Director certification with the Institute of Directors Southern Africa.

We chatted to Denver to find out just what makes him tick.

What drives you? 

Making a contribution through mentoring and coaching to the personal and professional growth of young and driven individuals.  

Describe your most compelling qualities.

I am empathetic, which makes me able to respect the views of others, even if these may differ from my own. I tend to invest heavily in making relationships work which I do with compassion, trust and mutual give-and-take.  

I’m tenacious and tend to stick with a problem until a solution is reached.  I’m also able to tackle problems head on without being overwhelmed or distracted by emotions, doing so logically and gathering information before drawing conclusions.

How would colleagues describe you?

I think they would say that I’m someone with a “glass half-full” attitude, views stress, competition or pressure as a challenge.

I think I might be perceived as being someone who thinks before he acts and also as being flexible, with the ability to change my mind when evidence suggests that I should do so.


What do you most love about what you do?

The financial services sector, particularly the insurance industry, is going through major changes driven by new legislation.  My role requires me to guide our company through these changes ensuring that we are compliant. Each day at the office is different. It is the challenge of constant change and the ability to make a contribution to shape a future for the company in the changing environment that I love the most.  

What was the most rewarding thing that you gained from your Unisa SBL qualification?

The interaction with fellow students in study groups who came from diverse backgrounds and who many times held views contrary to my own.  I found that these interactions almost replicated those taking place in corporate boardrooms.   This greatly assisted in my development and ability to contribute and successfully navigate boardroom discussions.  

Do you have enough hours in your day?

Never! My day starts at 6h30 at the gym with two colleagues and despite our gruelling sessions we sometimes find time to informally catch up on work matters. It is like having a round of golf and closing a deal on the 19th hole!  Despite the early start to the day I usually still find myself at the office by 18h30.  However, when I leave the office, I switch off my computer and when am at home, I try to be a completely present by focusing on my wife and daughter.  

If you have to choose either sport or the arts, which would it be and why?

Both my wife and I can play a musical instrument so generally the answer to the question would have been arts.  However, we have a four-year old daughter for whom my wife bought a violin but she wants nothing to do with it. She rather wants to practice soccer, so as a family we are now gravitating to sport. Strange how children can influence one’s life choices.

If you were invited to lead South Africa tomorrow, what would be the first thing that you would take care of?

Firstly, I would acknowledge our achievements as a country, having been reached in many instances through great ingenuity despite limited resources.  

Thereafter my immediate attention would turn to education.  If we don’t all work together to ensure our learners obtain quality education our country is set for disaster.    

I would tackle the problem by looking at ways to eradicate the inequality in the standard of education between the poor and the rich. I would facilitate Public-Private-Partnerships to assist government in ensuring equal access to quality education for all learners. I would expect PPPs to assist in providing infrastructure that would enable access to learning tools that can prepare learners adequately for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

I would invest heavily in teacher training and re-skilling but would also explore opportunities to use technology to supplement teaching.  And I would ask education experts to draft a curriculum that would ensure South Africa’s learners matriculate with globally competitive knowledge and skills.


Publish date: 2019/07/08