Investment guru opts for humanitarian outreach
Suta Kavari (SK) has been an Investment Strategist at Capricorn Asset Management (CAM) since April 2015, having joined Bank Windhoek in 2012 as an Office Asset and Liability management analyst at the asset and liability committee (ADCO).
Both positions, he says, gave him no room to slack or be bored, as they are exciting.
One of the bright economists of his generation, Kavari’s love for working with communities and his desire to travel and see the world have now propelled him in a different direction, as he is set to take up a new humanitarian role in the Middle East and North Africa, working on policy research and social development projects.
Windhoek Observer’s Eric Nyasha Mhunduru (ENM) caught up with Kavari this week and he shed more light on his new career path and exactly what he will be doing.
ENM: You are set to leave CAM at the end of this month for a completely different career path. Can you tell us where you are going and what your new role will be there?
SK: I am moving to Beirut, Lebanon, for a few months to work on policy research and social development projects in the Middle East and North Africa.
My two projects are working on policy proposals, particularly on skills and entrepreneurship development, aimed at Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and the other is on education policy innovation in Pakistan, embedding entrepreneurial development in the curricula. I am not yet 100 percent sure what exactly I will be doing; I will find out when I get there.
After Beirut, the rough plan is to do an Honours Degree in Political Economics at the University of Cape Town (UCT); hopefully the fees would have fallen by then. But that is dependent on how my time in the Middle East goes; if I like it I’ll extend it, if not, UCT it shall be. Afterwards, it is anyone’s guess really.
I want to use the opportunity that my move to Lebanon provides to acquire new skills and also build on my knowledge base. Ultimately, it’s a journey of self-realisation and personal growth.
ENM: What motivated you to make this change? Were there some challenges that you were encountering during your tenure at CAM?
SK: The decision to resign from my job was a painstaking one to make and one that I mulled over for a considerable amount of time.
My four years at Capricorn, and in particular my 16 months at CAM, were some of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life. The knowledge and experience I gained working within the group has been the most gratifying of my professional career.
In the end, the decision boiled down to my desire to travel and see the world and go to places I have never been and might not ever get a chance to visit.
My decision was also informed by my desire to work with communities and do meaningful work that benefits them, while also getting the exposure to new cultures, different ways of doing things and ultimately meeting new people along the way.
Shakespeare wrote: “Letters shall direct your course when time is ripe.” With that in mind, I decided to set off on a new course. The time was ripe to delve into the unknown, armed only with the knowledge that new challenges would be met, stories would be shared and horizons broadened.
ENM: Can you tell us more about where you studied, the qualifications attained and work experience to date?
SK: I studied at the North West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa and obtained my Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Economics and Risk Management in 2011. I started working for Bank Windhoek in September 2012, as Officer: ALCO. In that position I was responsible for balance sheet optimisation and served as a support function to the Asset and Liability Committee.
I was responsible for measuring, monitoring and forecasting the bank’s balance sheet and income statement, looking at liquidity and interest rate risk and the macro-environment. I left this position because I needed a new challenge and was afraid that if I stayed in it for too long, I would potentially get too comfortable, too familiar and maybe stagnate.
So in April 2015, I moved over to CAM to the current role I occupy of Investment Strategist; a role I quite enjoy (or enjoyed) and one that I thought I was quite good at. I have also been guided by a need to learn and develop new skills.
I am driven by the need to know and the need to ask why. I was fortunate because that is what my position entailed, to some extent. You are constantly challenged; every day is different; for example, you might wake up to a different finance minister in South Africa and that affects banking and market analysis for us here in Namibia. And it’s a role were you are required to form an opinion and debate and sell that view in the investment decision-making process. Safe to say, there was never room to slack or be bored. And that was exciting.
ENM: What knowledge have you gained over the years and what other key positions away from CAM have you held?
SK: In my role at CAM I conducted qualitative and quantitative macro-economic research that informs our house view and assists in the formal recommendation process for asset allocation. My research insight regarding key trends in the global political economy ultimately feeds into the company’s investment strategy.
I also provided market insights and research capabilities to Bank Windhoek, and my work with them varied from investigating the possibility of negative interest rate policies in emerging markets, to interrogating the possibilities of transforming Namibia into a financial hub.
In addition to all that, I was Vice Chairperson of the Economic Association of Namibia, a volunteer-based think tank that aims to develop and improve economic discourse and policy deliberations in Namibia.
As one of the few independent platforms in the country, we aim to bridge the gap between the various stakeholders in the local economy, open channels for improved dialogue and support cooperation between the public and private sectors.
ENM: What do you do to unwind and what sports do you prefer, away from your busy schedule?
SK: To unwind from everything, I am a keen runner. You will find me running around Avis aimlessly, and I rate myself at squash. I also find solace in the kitchen, and could easily spend days in the kitchen pretending to be Jaime Oliver or Gordon Ramsay. I also rate myself in the kitchen.
Some would say I am addicted to news. While I wouldn’t agree with that assessment, I concede that I do spend a considerable amount of time keeping abreast with current affairs. And I read a lot. With my pending move to Beirut, I sold everything I own, apart from my books and art. I am also a nascent scholar of politics; I furiously follow politics and elections. Elections are my thing.
The outdoors I quite enjoy, including going camping anytime; I Iove camping. But above all, I love nothing less than spending time with friends and family, chilling and taking the mickey and shooting the breeze.