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The Marc van Olst Portrait

Marc van Olst
Artist: Taf [Tafadzwa Mukwashi]
Oil on box canvas
406mm x 406mm

“I believe that everything in life is (wo)man-made and therefore it is our energy that combines resources with demand to create impact – impact cannot be achieved without passionate humans being behind it and cannot be sustained without ALL of society benefiting.” – Marc van Olst

Marc van Olst, the proudly African inventor, entrepreneur and investor, is the man in the 31st portrait of Facing a Century by the artist Taf [Tafadzwa Mukwashi].

Marc van Olst best describes himself as ‘an adventurer and explorer embarking on journeys to touch the world with passion, creativity and honest hard work’.  He has a led a very full life that has taken him on many journeys that ultimately all came together. The first of these journeys was the journey of an engineer (‘figuring out how things work’). Marc, who holds a Masters degree in Metallurgical Engineering, began his professional career in Mining and Metallurgy with Goldfields in 1996. His journey as an inventor and entrepreneur (‘innovating to make things work better’) started in 1998 when Marc formed part of a group of entrepreneurs who started Crusader Systems, a successful start-up that created and commercialized an advanced process control patent for the International Mining industry. This patent won the SABS Chairman’s award in 2000.

Marc joined McKinsey & Company in 2001, signaling the beginning of his journey as a management consultant (‘understanding how things make money’). He spent a decade in management consulting and was made a Partner in 2009. As a Principal in the Johannesburg Office of McKinsey & Company, he worked across a broad spectrum of industries including Mining, Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Sustainability (Climate Change and Water), Transport/Logistics and Public Sector where his work focused on topics of Strategy, Organisational Effectiveness and Operations Improvement. Marc’s particular interest and skill was in leading large scale business transformations.

The last 3 years have seen Marc van Olst taking the journey of a community servant (‘innovating to make the lives of community members better’), social activist (‘understanding the complete fabric of society and how the dynamics between politics, business and civic action play out in the lives of the citizen’) and investor (‘how people make decisions about investing their resources’). He has been dedicated to the development of socio-economic investment opportunities in disenfranchised rural communities. Marc is now the Managing Director of Spinnaker Growth Partners where he and his partners actively grow high growth companies in Southern Africa.

Marc  van Olst was a recipient of the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship in 2012 and was part of Tutu’s Children, Al Jazeera’s documentary on him and other inspirational Fellows and future African leaders. He serves on the Investment Committee of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) where he assesses the social and financial potential of new technologies being developed in South Africa and he acts as a close Advisor to Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s Citizens Movement for Social Change. He is also a non-Executive Director of the Royal Bafokeng Institute where education and economic development are combined to deliver impact to the Kingdom of the Bafokeng and the surrounding communities.

About his deep roots in and love for Africa, Marc says, “I have travelled to over 50 countries in the world but have always felt that Africa is my real home and Africa is where I want to land the lessons, stories and passion that I picked up in my exploring.”

Marc van Olst is a man whose positive impact in Africa, his home, is playing a significant role in the beginning of another journey – Africa’s 21st Century Economic Renaissance. Thank you, Marc, for lending your face to this Journey!

[Many thanks to Peter Wilson, African Leadership Institute (ALI).]


Spinnaker Growth Partners


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