Johan Eksteen

Johan Eksteen


MD: Agricon Pelleting

Academic Background

MBA (cum laude)
MSc in Sustainable Agriculture


How did your university experience prepare you for your current career?

Both my degrees helped me to open my mind up to what the world is all about, and it taught me where to find resources and advice when I am in a corner. I feel very sorry for new entrants to the market who cannot fathom what is happening in the world economy because they were never exposed to the potential variables we all deal with on a daily basis. The UFS Business School taught me that a business is multi-facetted and outside this sphere there are even more variables. A degree in business is not about literally applying the attained knowledge from your degree for the rest of your life like a formula, but serves to exercise your brain and stretch your world so that you know what to look for and how to apply the latest information at hand. The UFS Business School therefore opened my eyes to the world of economics.

Which characteristics or skills are essential for the workplace?

Tenacity, adaptability, and vision are essential to survive in the modern business world. Ever-changing conditions, legislation, and international competition will suffocate your business if you do not take time to work on your business, as opposed to working in your business like a slave with no forward vision. It is a skill to critically look at what you are doing in your business. You have to adopt a mindset of constantly renewing your model to stay ahead of the competition and to stay relevant in the marketplace.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my work is people, people, and again people. If people could get over their egos and be task orientated, we would achieve so much more in our country. Getting staff and retaining that same staff is a huge problem. The good ones are so sought after that retention is very difficult, but in the same breath getting rid of the bad apples is even more difficult. To add to this problem, racism and politics are mixed into this equation, which becomes a mine field that dilutes the focus and motivation on productivity. Social media is also creating a distorted view of what real work life is, so the reality is sometimes too scary for people to man up to because we have lost our internal locus of control and forget that the buck has to stop with us.

What drives you to excel in your career?

Excellence in what I do drives me because of pride and self-respect. I have a passion for anything I do and do not believe in second best. My biggest frustration is to see people who live without passion and enthusiasm, so I try to set an example of the values I cherish. If I can be a good leader, I might develop more people who follow my example, thereby leaving a legacy of proud and productive contributors to society.

What are the best opportunities for someone entering your career?

The international market and food security are the two main focus points in my business. If you think local, you will act local, thereby limiting your own growth potential. Food security is the biggest challenge with an ever-increasing world population. Focusing on services and non-life-sustaining products will eventually leave you with a limited niche market and you may have to change your product, service, or strategy at a later stage in your career when you cannot afford it. Stick to basics, because people have basic needs in tangible products.

Name three things you wish you had been told as a university student.

  • Firstly, a degree is a guide to reality, but reality is much harder than textbook solutions.
  • Secondly, you will not necessarily end up in the job of your dreams, but life will guide you towards your true calling and you need to accept the direction it sets.
  • Lastly, input does not always equal output, but giving up because you did not get the required outcome is not an option.

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