Nico Groenewald

Nico Groenewald Head Agribusiness Standard Bank South Africa.

Self-assured and enthusiastic individual. His eyes divulge a mischievous smile as he talks about his childhood and formative years. He comes from a family with strong roots in the agricultural community and has a passion for the land. Although their farming has always been operated as a part-time business, it has shaped his interest in the agricultural industry. “Most people have a yearning to be closer to nature, to the soil and I am fortunate enough to have been exposed to the best of both worlds”, he says. Nico was recently appointed the Head of Agribusiness South Africa at Standard Bank.

Nico and his brother grew up in Mpumalanga on the Highveld spending much time on the family farm. He is still farming part-time. He laughs with some trepidation and adds that, “farming is a contact sport, because it is certainly not for the faint hearted.”

Nico studied at the University of Pretoria where he originally enrolled for Livestock Science. He later changed to Agricultural Economics after he decided to take a more commercial approach. He graduated in 1988 and joined Standard Bank after completing his military service. He started as a junior agricultural advisor. His career path then led to a position at an agribusiness which reinforced his interest to further cement his technical agricultural experience. During the five years in the field he also completed his MBA supporting his career objectives to accelerate further in commercial business. “I decided to take a more strategic approach as opposed to becoming a pure specialist”, Nico adds.

He then joined Standard Bank again in 1997 in an agricultural credit capacity and has never looked back. Nico’s tranquil character makes it easy to approach him and helps him to thrive in this challenging environment. He has fulfilled various leadership roles throughout the bank in various provinces and it is evident that he has a passion for people and is seen as an excellent leader.

He loves the outdoors and has an active lifestyle; currently he is training for triathlon. He met his wife at university and got married in 1990. They have two children; a daughter who studies at the University of Pretoria and a son in high school. His eyes light up when he talks about his family. It is clear that they are his pride and joy.

Being in the industry for more than two decades, he is confident that there will always be a future in agriculture and admits that the industry is at a very interesting point - focus and energy is increasingly being channelled towards agriculture. He says the trick is to appreciate how macro trends and micro realities thread into the bigger picture to guarantee success. It gives one a broader understanding of the market, the farmer and the business, and how certain trends or decisions will impact the farmer.

His vision for business going forward is to maintain the current momentum and to ensure that Standard Bank Agribusiness remains central to the current strategic engagements taking place, while being ‘thought-leaders’ in the industry. The Agribusiness segment has grown considerably within the bank and made agriculture very relevant in the broader business bank. With a charming smile he adds that the industry might have challenges, but that it remains a unique field with a lot of opportunities, both in South Africa and Africa. “Life ain’t no spectator’s game, you need to get your hands dirty.”