Armed with a rich profile in Content Management, Thapelo has lived and worked as editor and journalist between London, Johannesburg and Cape Town since 2002. His entrepreneurial drive saw him establish a digital content start-up in London, FullCircle Circle Online, which he sold in 2013.
Thapelo attained his Bachelor of Social Sciences (BSosci) at the University of Cape Town, where he studied International Relations and Industrial Sociology. He continued his studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, Canada.
Thapelo’s vast digital content experience is supplemented by further studies at the University of Westminster Business School, where he recently attained a Certificate in Digital Marketing (Institute of Digital Marketing).
He enjoys playing and watching football (Arsenal fan who lives 10 minutes from the Emirates Stadium), reading up on the latest in Fintech and also keenly follows trends in international politics and socio-economics.
Latest posts by Thapelo Moloantoa (see all)
- Raymond van Niekerk: I like adventure but not too extreme like Sir Branson - 24 Oct 2016
- Optimism reigns supreme at Great Post-Brexit Debate - 19 Oct 2016
- Bloomberg’s Square Mile Relay runs the City! - 14 Oct 2016
While she personally only a year of working experience in the corporate world, Victoria Salem has grown The Golden Network into one of London’s leading meeting platforms for professionals.
Finbuzz.com was recently privileged to have a first hand experience of the networking event in London, hosted by The Golden Network at high-end Franco’s restaurant in central London. The venue is described by critics as an “upscale and enduring Italian restaurant for all-day haute dining amid elegant old-world interiors.”
In the first of our series on the network, Salem reveals all about her journey into this exciting venture.
How and where did you start your professional career?
I started working in wealth management at Merrill Lynch looking after private clients. It was at the same time that Merrill Lynch was bought by Julius Baer. I enjoyed it for the first six months but then realised that this is not what I was cut out for.
What inspired you to start the network?
I enjoy creating and building relationships, but at that time I found myself actually closing down relationships because of the acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Baer because clients were leaving the company.
I attended a lot of events in the City at the time, and realised that they were boring, stiff and stale. It was difficult for someone who had just started their career to walk up to fully-fledged City professionals and strike up a conversation.
I think that it is easier to do so when there is something else happening – for instance a wine tasting, or a private tour of a gallery because there is something else that connects the guests.
From there then the conversation can be carried over to professional and business related matters. However, the idea is not for one to throw their business card everywhere but rather connect with 5 or 6 people with whom you are then going to maintain an ongoing relationship over time. I decided to leave the corporate world after 6 months at Merrill Lynch and six months down the line I launched the Golden Network at Vogue House on Hanover Square.
Which moments would you classify as being the highlights of the network so far?
The celebration of our one year anniversary definitely ranks high up our highlights. It was a lot more successful than I thought it would be. Generally-speaking I’d say the evolution of the network from concept to reality is a highlight that stays in my mind all the time.
For us quality is important, we are not about quantity but quality. We rather have smaller events where the right people get to meet each other. We always try to add something valuable to the event itself.
Moving from a steady-income, stable job in wealth management to becoming an entrepreneur is not an easy feat, how did you manage this transformation? Have you always had the entrepreneur trait in you?
My mom tells me that when I was a young girl she would leave me in the park with other kids but when she came back 15 minutes later she’d find that I would often be the one in charge, bleating out instructions to other kids. So I was already interested in being a manager even back then.
The entrepreneurial trait in me was more evoked when I took up Entrepreneurship as a module during my MSc Management Studies at Cass Business School here in London. This was at a time that I had just arrived in London, and had not started working yet.
So even at that stage as a student I had an inclination towards being my own boss. The what, when and where only became clarified once I left Merrlyn Lynch. I must say it is quite an interesting journey because you move from one day when everything is going extremely well to another when everything seems to be flying over your head. But it is all worth it in the end, am very grateful for having the courage to follow my passion and have no regrets at all.
How does the balance sheet of the business look like?
All the effort started paying off quite quickly because we have put together a mechanism that works effectively and efficiently, most of the time. So the business started making money fairly quickly after inception.
Which other revenue streams has the business developed?
The revenue streams we have developed are also key to contributing to our balance sheet. We have an event management service, which was introduced a year after our inception. This is geared towards providing these services for private and corporate clients. The events range from birthday parties to private parties, seminars and conferences.
Experiential marketing is also our fort, we are already working with brands such as Amanda Wakeley and Hilton on Park Lane. We are also involved in business networking workshops. At the moment we are working with a number of universities, advising their MBA and other Masters level students about the value of networking, how to embrace networking as soon as they step into the working world. Our clients include the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), the Institute of Financial Studies (IFS) and Queen Mary University.
What are the plans for expansion going forward?
I’d let to set up the network in different cities, with Dubai and Paris as the targets for our first expansion outside the UK.
You organise time and space for people to meet after work, how do you relax when you are not working?
I do like travelling, to discover new cultures and meet new people. This year I’ve been to Israel, and am scheduled to go to Mexico and Cuba next month. I also like spending time with friends around a dinner table having good food and good wine..which is of course French wine. It goes very well with food.