Danie Otto

Director, Digby Wells Environmental

Nobody’s perfect. What quality or ability do you wish you had?
Being able to predict the future more accurately.

What is the best business book you have ever read, and why?
Mind of a Fox, by Clem Sunter and Chantell Illbury. Through scenario planning they predicted the 9/11 disaster. The book talks about enabling one to have vision to the point where one can predict specific future events.

Someone you would most like to have met, living or dead, and why?
Sir Richard Branson, in order to to learn from his entrepreneurial skill and ability. Also to learn from and discuss his vision to expand the Kruger National Park through ecological rehabilitation at his nature reserve, Ulusaba.

What do you consider to be your major achievement (in life or business)?
Being able to assist with major environmental projects as mediator for the environment for 20 years, without being in the spotlight. It’s like a soccer or rugby match, the game is not about the referee. If people talk about the game and not the referee, he has done his job well.

Who or what do you think is overrated?
The Prius hybrid car. Many other vehicles give better fuel consumption at efficiencies and power ratios significantly better than this car.

What mistakes have you made (professional or otherwise), and what did you learn from them?
The opening and closing of various regional offices, from which I have learned to better read the market, keep overheads low, and stay flexible and mobile.

Which one piece of wisdom would you pass on to your successor?
To mentor and train people not to take over from you but to overtake you.

Who has been your inspiration professionally?
Dr Niels Jacobson, the retired parks board ecologist who I have had, and still have, the opportunity to work with and learn from. His immense knowledge and hunger to learn that never diminishes even after retirement, together with thorough systematic and scientific methods, has been a constant source of inspiration.

How would you like to be remembered after your retirement?
As a mentor, not only on a professional level promoting biogeomporphology and ecological restoration, but on a life skills level as well.

Do you have a quote or motto you live (or work) by?
Work hard, play hard and follow your passion.

www.digbywells.com