Fast food and health share business award

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Fast food shared the stage with fitness and health as the co-founder of Discovery and chief executive of McDonald’s South Africa were recognised for their extraordinary business accomplishments.
by JORDAN MOSHE | Sep 12, 2019

The paradox of their joint receipt of the Absa Business Award was not lost on Barry Swartzberg and Greg Solomon as they went on stage to the applause of the room.

“There’s a slight irony in a health and wellness company sharing this award with McDonald’s,” Swartzberg told a laughing audience. “Seems the judges had quite a sense of humour.”

Expressing thanks for the honour, Swartzberg said he had enjoyed working at Discovery for more than half of his life. “This is for a couple of reasons,” he said. “The company has a strong purpose of making people healthier. I really do believe in the core purpose, and it’s a thrill to take it around the world.

“The other reason is the people. There are some phenomenal people at Discovery, people who have really intimidated me with their high IQs, including those who came out here tonight. I also work with some of the best clients in the world. It’s an inspiration to work with them. To engage with them is an absolute thrill.”

He acknowledged two particular individuals, co-founder Adrian Gore, and deputy chief executive of Vitality, Shaun Matisonn. Said Swartzberg, “Adrian, it has been an honour to work with you for over 30 years. Adrian and I were varsity mates, and when we started Discovery, it quickly became obvious that he was going to be the boss.

“I said, ‘You can’t be the boss. We’re mates. It’s going to stick in my throat.’ But Adrian, in retrospect, I think it was the right choice. I got over it. There’s nothing sticking in my throat; it’s actually more like a tickle now.”

Solomon opened his address by thanking his wife, Lisa, with whom he said he shared the award. “You’re a businesswoman, friend, and partner who keeps shalom bayit [peace in the home] in our house every single day. I’m blessed to have extended family around me, and it’s fantastic to be together with them every Shabbos.”

Solomon further attributed his success to those he works with, stressing the strength of their diversity and shared values. “At McDonald’s, we have a concept called the three-legged stool. When one leg is down, the whole stool falls. My team reminds me that our competitive advantage is our diversity. We are different in our thinking and background, but the same in our culture. That’s our strength.”

He also expressed gratitude towards the Great Park Shul community, as well as the broader Jewish community of South Africa, concluding, “There are just more than 50 000 of us yids in this country. That means there’s just one yid for every 1 200 people. Never before have we needed to stand up and rise than right now.

“It’s time for action. Kibbitzing and gossiping from the sidelines is destructive and pointless. This country can rise again, and we need to transform, educate, empower, and accelerate equality in all we do.”

1 Comment

  1. 1 Neil Jankelowitz 12 Sep
    I would like to make contact with Greg Solomon to discuss a business idea. Can you please send me his contact details



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