Entrepreneurship Insights: The Richest Woman in South Africa Shares Her Career Journey

“Once I realised that all this experience I was getting across the board, from financials to marketing to HR, I decided I was going to do it for myself and that was when we started De Morgenzon.”

Despite being the daughter of Donald Gordon, founder of the Liberty Group, Appelbaum says that her privileged start in life isn’t the only reason for her success: “I really did understand how to run a business and how to make money. A lot of people say I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, which to a degree I was, but I’ve certainly not relied on that to get on with my own business and do what I wanted to do.”

Appelbaum explains to host Eleni Giokos that she learnt a lot from her father but her work ethic was something she had to develop independently: “He certainly taught me a lot about business, but being a girl and growing up in the 1970s [meant] there was not much expectation [for] me to do anything. It was my choice to do something. So, I have always worked and I have always been busy.”

In 1994, her and 10 other women started Wiphold, an investment company that empowered women from all walks of life. Appelbaum reflects fondly on her time there: “Wiphold was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life… We empowered women that were technically completely disadvantaged, really empowered them to understand how to invest and take a little bit of money and make it a lot. There was an incredible amount of energy in that boardroom. I’ve never been in a boardroom that good ever since.”

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