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World-class people put Kallner in first place

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Hylton Kallner, who received this year’s Absa Business Leadership Award on 22 October, said that if he had to select a Springbok team of actuaries, doctors, engineers, and bankers, he would choose the people he works with at Discovery.

“I work with a remarkable group of people who are in the community, a group of people who are truly world-class,” said Kallner, the chief executive of Discovery South Africa and Discovery Bank.

“I’ve got the best job in the world,” he said. “I joined Discovery 27 years ago as a young actuarial student, and it’s been an incredible journey.” He didn’t join because of the size of the organisation, rather due to the people at the company. “With hindsight, you often think that you could make better decisions. In my case, it’s the opposite,” Kallner said.

During his time at Discovery, Kallner said he had “seen the launch of Vitality, our behavioural programme, all our international operations, and our bank”.

He became chief executive of Discovery South Africa three months before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It gave me a clear sense to galvanise the entire team around our corporate, and make people healthier,” he said.

“We’re absolutely committed to the country, to our communities, and to being a force for social good in the environments in which we operate. One of the incredible accolades for Discovery Bank over the past year was being recognised by Fortune magazine as one of the top companies changing the world. I’ve always been part of the product team and had a deep interest in ensuring we build products that are brilliant for our clients.” He’s currently involved in the research and development of all Discovery South Africa’s products.

Kallner said he carries with him “the benefit of learning from a father who was dedicated to his family, and a mother who epitomised all that was absolutely good and made us believe that anything is possible”.

He has a busy schedule, but wouldn’t change it for anything. “I typically start at about 07:00 in the office, and end at about 19:00. I try to ensure that I’ve got time to have dinner with my family, and then catch up on reading and emails late at night to prepare for the next day.”

He’s grateful for having “the most remarkable support system in my wife, Leora, of 25 years, which truly is the only reason I’m standing here, and my four kids who make it all worthwhile”.

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