Whoever said CAs are not creative people, can’t possibly have met Stuart Allan van der Veen. Not only does he love to create but he admits that making sense of the abstract has always been a passion.
Stuart has made a career out of using technology to make the world a better place. He is the founder of Paper Plane, an advisory firm that specialises in exponential technology and is co-founder of Future Faces. Both firms design and inform strategies for integrating technology into the future of their clients’ businesses using a network of leading scientists and entrepreneurs.
As a passionate South African who always wanted to take a role in the development of the continent, Stuart based himself in Johannesburg after a secondment in London and Singapore. “I proposed two technology-based solutions to some challenges I identified working at Deloitte,” he recalls, adding that both solutions were accepted. As a result, he spent the next few months delivering these solutions to the firm after which he left to start his own business.
Stuart is a true entrepreneur, explaining that the company has put hard work into delivering on complex projects, and they have also had the guts to remain true to themselves, at times turning down projects to focus on work that is meaningful to the business.
It’s a successful approach. After attending Finovate (a financial technology conference in the US) in May 2016, Stuart brought back some critical insights to inform the local fintech market. His time in the US also allowed him to build relations in Silicon Valley, “which have been invaluable”, he reveals.
On a local level, Paper Plane has invested in a venture capital vehicle with an investment mandate in Fintech and Edtech. Future Faces has been equally successful. The company was co-founded with Deloitte and SovTech, with the aim of providing every African access to quality financial education. In 2015, supported by Deloitte employees and successful entrepreneurs, Future Faces fully crowdfunded its first student, enabling her to complete her CA(SA) undergraduate studies; in addition to supporting several CA(SA) students with their living expenses.
Stuart defines himself by his love of technology and his desire to use it to make an impact on humanity. That said, he also describes himself as a ‘normal guy’ who enjoys spending time with friends and family, but who likes to dream big.
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