How Bongani Buhlalu keeps up the pace between investments and life

At the heart of Third Way Investment Group is a team of hard-working professionals who provide conducive channels through which pension funds can realise great returns while contributing immensely to the South African economy. Amongst such individuals is Third Way’s very own Investment Analyst, Bongani Buhlalu.

At only 29 years, Bongani Buhlalu (who holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting, Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) in Accounting) has proven to be the relentless ‘engine’ of Third Way Investment Partners (a black-owned investment boutique firm). Under the founding leadership of John Oliphant and Fulu Makwetla, Bongani administers the lifecycle of every deal transaction executed through Third Way Investment Partners.

He admits that it takes more than just focus and skills to juggle four deals at the same time. In fact, one would need to keep a healthy balance between work and wellness. Bongani Buhlalu, who recently ran the 2018 Comrades Marathon and has already covered 1200km since January, took time to share how he manages to keep up the pace in such a cut-throat financial industry.

The Start

“I believe in stretching myself, and always seeking new grounds” Bongani Buhlalu.

Bongani was born, raised, and bred in a middle-class home in Soweto, Pimville, to an entrepreneurial mother and an accountant father.  He’s a marathon enthusiast, an avid reader, and a lover of cricket — a sport which he would have pursued professionally if it wasn’t for his adeptness with numbers. Although his parents had crossed fingers that he would become a soccer star or at best a medical doctor, Bongani chose the race less taken and studied to become a Chartered Accountant at the University of Johannesburg. He served his articles at Investec and later joined John Oliphant and Fulu Makwetla at Third Way Investment Partners.

His day-to-day life is seemingly marked with meetings and a list of million-rand-deal transactions that need to be finalised or started. However, amid the demands of his work, he manages to make time for his wellness and social life. According to Bongani Buhlalu; keeping a perfect balance between work and play has got to do with how one perceives life. For him, life is an ecosystem in which every part has to be in function and in place in order for things to run smoothly.

The Pace

As an ‘early bird’, Bongani kick-starts his day at 4:30am with a 2-hour jog or good exercise, he then showers and heads off to work at around 7am, only to return at 7pm in the evening or earlier, depending on his schedule for the day. He mentions that Third Way Investment Partners has a flexible office culture and puts people’s wellness first, which works wonders for him. “Third Way does not have a rigid culture as many companies out there. As long as the deals are executed on time, everyone is good”, he said. He also shared some of his practical steps to a healthy work and life relationship:

  • Wake up early, get a fresh start to the day.
  • Be physically active. A good jog is good for your health and productivity.
  • Be wise with your time at work. Ask for flexibility
  • Learn to listen to your body. If you’re tired, you’re tired.
  • Now and again take a good holiday, and switch off for a few days.
  • Have a fresh perspective to work.

The Approach

“Executing a transaction is much like running a marathon, if you keep your feet on the ground and maintain your pace, you should prevail and make it to the finish line.” Bongani Buhlalu.

The following parallel diagrams illustrate his analogy:

Bongani Buhlalu investment marathon

From research to approval to reporting, Bongani executes every deal without missing a step. He approached this year’s Comrade Marathon route with the same diligence. He even went as far as helping a colleague reach the finish line in honour of her late daughter.

The Finish

In the end, Bongani notes that as one rushes to get deals done or get things done at home, it can become easy to neglect the fact that as our stress levels rise, our productivity levels plummet. For Bongani Buhlalu, health is an integral part of work, and work also gives one a sense of purpose, which in turn adds value to one’s own wellness, and therefore, a healthy perspective towards life as a whole is vital for balanced living.

This feature is part of the ‘Third Way’s Leading Team’ Series.