The Origin Story of Mickey Gambale
Tell us about the career journey you have been on to land where you are today –
It was during my very first professional position, as an articles clerk, that my innate entrepreneurial drive made my professional calling clear: I wanted to create solutions, using available technology and knowledge, to build a better world.
Over time it became evident that the field in which I wanted to execute this calling was finance and investments.
By observing and listening to players in the micro-financing industry, I identified an opportunity to formalise what was, at the time, the informal provision of cash loans in the mining industry and founded my first business. Keeping the client top-of-mind led to the exponential growth of the business up to the point where it was acquired by MCG, a division of African Bank Investments Ltd, and I joined that team.
Another start-up followed, this time an eCommerce solution in the private education space. This venture might have been ahead of its time, as SA was just not yet ready to buy online. I thoroughly believe that failures must be embraced as learning opportunities and the next opportunity was to assist mCubed with a challenge they were facing at the time.
It was in their specialised lending division where I was exposed to specialised wealth management and learnt about investments, gaining knowledge and adding to my qualifications in the investment and finance industry.
Positions at African Alliance and Momentum (now MMH Holdings) followed, where I applied my entrepreneurial skills through a unique intrapreneurial approach, which (especially at MMH) increased my career trajectory.
After being approached by the Liberty Group, I could once again create something new in their Group Investment Platform (GIP) business, INN8. They had already hired the COO, but they were looking for a strategist and a visionary to take the idea to the next level and get the GIP proposition funded and delivered. I drove the strategy development and the implementation of a multi hundred million Rand build for Liberty Group to build a next generation investment platform – a first in South Africa. From this my vision called for an IFA focused wealth manager Platform called INN8. This new business for Liberty Group is the brainchild of my strategy and vision to reinvigorate the Group in the market.
I will always assess the environment to find the next opportunity to deliver on the goals that I’ve set for myself: I want to assist people to achieve their goals. I want to simplify investing and I want to make investment success and financial wellbeing attainable.
What made you choose the financial services/investment industry?
It’s simple: Investments need to be demystified and accessible for all. Financial wellbeing should be attainable to everyone and enabled and simplified by technology. I value and establish intrapreneurship in any business I lead to achieve simple, but big, aspirational goals. Removing barriers to financial freedom — one by one.
What has been the most significant turning point in your career – or describe an accomplishment that shaped your career?
Quitting articles and starting a micro finance business was the biggest turning point. I left behind what would have been a structured career path for the unknown. It was a big step, but one that ultimately needed to be taken. Making the decision to exit that first position did not come easily. I was told by my father that I would need to keep studying if I wanted to change course. It was valuable advice, packaged as a condition, that I have incorporated into my professional approach as a committed continuous learner.
What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to take your current position?
There’s no recipe for building or running a company or leading a group of people out of trouble. At the end of the day, you have to make incredibly complex decisions with extremely limited information, which will stress you out. Because of this, you absolutely need to develop decision making processes that are insulated from your own emotional rollercoaster/insecurity to make sure you’re operating logically with no emotional biases. You cannot expect your team to understand all your decisions given their limited scope. You also cannot spend the time to give them the broader scope all the time, since that takes away from doing their own jobs. But if you don’t, they might stop trusting you. It’s a Catch-22 situation.
What makes you excited about Monday?
The possibility that anything truly is possible,. This is what in fact gets me up every day – the possibility to achieve anything.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
No, never, I don’t believe in doing things differently as if I had I would not be here now, whether good or bad. What I do believe in is learning from one’s mistakes so next time around you can do it better. I’m not one to dwell on the past and look in the rear-view mirror and think of what could have been. Rather, I focus on the here and now, using my past experience to make better decisions as they come up.
What would you tell your younger self about the road to get to where you are today?
Nothing to be honest. Life is meant to be a journey of experiences, good and bad, success and losses. There is no formula for success, if there was many would have emulated it. Each day I realise that success is defined by how many hard conversations you’re willing to have. Experience gives you the mindfulness to recognise the situations you need to step up to and reflect upon. You only learn that through experience and not being told what to do.