Change the world

News

28/11/2018

Seasoned international business and legal executive and strategist, Kurt Pakendorf believes in making things happen. He graduated from Nelson Mandela University with BProc (1991) and is currently the Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel for Face IT Limited in London, UK and California, USA. 

“Making things happen - I actually do believe in that and that it also plays to what my role is right now. I'm 20 years older than the founders that I work with - so I work with millennials. My role here is that  I'm the general councillor of the company and also the chief strategy officer. If you see how the chief strategy officer role plays out in companies, particularly in a tech company they are looking strategically where your technology should be, in other words; where should their platform be growing and what they should be delivering on.

“The other kind of chief strategist, which is more of what I am, is understanding where there is a strategic mission that needs to be delivered on. If we fail to delivery on this the company might fail or would be less likely to succeed or enable an environment where you make sure those obstacles are removed and that the strategic goal is met. My job is to facilitate to make sure that obstacles are removed and objectives met and, in that context, I literally make things happen here.

Since leaving Nelson Mandela University nearly 20 years ago, Pakendorf has worn many hats in his career - follower, naval officer, attorney, general counsel (chief legal officer) United Nations official, manager, founder, consultant, COO, CEO and business development, and, is well positioned to lead and deliver on multidisciplinary and multijurisdictional roles and projects.

Pakendorf has taken skills from all his work experience including languages he learnt in countries he worked in, including Serbo-Croatian which paved a way for him to work as a legal officer at the United Nations Interim Administration Missions in Kosovo.

“The fact that I speak Serbo-Croatian was important to working at the UN in Kosovo.  This kind of mission hadn’t been done before, no-one knew whether it would become a country or not. It was most rewarding helping setting up banking, supplying fuel for civilians, setting up legislation on how to open the airport, which was then under military rule. Kosovo was in a post conflict zone but still quite dangerous at the time.”

Pakendorf then worked his way to becoming CEO and director of MobileWave Group plc in London and the vice president and general counsel at Havok.com Inc. in the USA. He also co-authored the UK Current Law Statutes and Petroleum Law 1998. 

He also led and negotiated the establishment of one of the world’s Counter Strike: Global Offensive professional eSports league with 20 teams and US$3.5million in prize money. He is also the director of Esports Championship Series CS Limited London and the founder, director and co-owner of Anicus Law Limited, which is a boutique international legal services firm offering legal and strategic business consulting services.

Pakendorf is the co-founder and a managing partner of The Sable Accelerator, which is a trusted expert network of expatriate South Africans giving back to their country in different forms.

“We decided to found The Sable Accelerator because we realised that there were a lot of South African expats with global skills, expertise, knowledge, connections and influence living in the US and UK and there are South African entrepreneurs, new venture start-ups, academic institutions, and companies looking to commercialise technology innovations, promote and protect intellectual property, fund new business concepts, finance growth, as well as expand into global markets.

“Why not pull together these two groups of South Africans, expose them to each other and help make a difference. These types of interactions can be beneficial to both sides and to South Africa, and Africa, as a whole. We’ve just had the Premier of the Eastern Cape and his delegation at our San Jose, California, office for consultations and introductions, and recently executive MBAs from the Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria were there.”

Pakendorf says that if he could start his career over, he would be more patient as he was in such a rush to start working that he took the quickest route open to him. “I wish I’d spent more time at university getting an LLB versus my BProc.” He was already an articled clerk at a law firm while at university so he was able to make a quick transition as a lawyer, passing his article exams and degree around the same time.

“My advice to students is that you will never have this time again, don’t waste it. There will be more than enough time later to focus on getting your career launched.”

Mandela alumnus Kurt Pakendorf (centre) receiving his Alumni Achiever Award from Vice-Chancellor Prof Sibongile Muthwa (left) and President of the Alumni Association Khwezi Blose.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777
Zandile.Mbabela@mandela.ac.za