The Company We Keep is a column on the CN&CO blog that profiles some of the most interesting people in our networks. Here we share the details of the lives of people we know, showcasing the extraordinary diversity of our society and proving that people truly are at the heart of everything we do.
Giulietta Talevi is a good friend to many at CN&CO. We like her because she is a smart, passionate, successful working mum who talks with her hands (true to her Italian roots) and doesn’t back down from a challenge. You might recognise her by-line from Business Day or Financial Mail – or even her face and voice from BDTV.
Giulietta is a big Twitter influencer/activist. She is perpetually taking some city counsellor to task for letting their sidewalk grass grow too long, or making reading recommendations to Cyril Ramaphosa.
She met her husband Lars at a restaurant in Parkhurst in Joburg.
“He lived around the corner, and the people I was with decided we needed another man at the table,” she says. “There was an amazing connection, followed by a long, LONG courtship. But six years later we were married!”
Their four-year-old daughter, Lucia, is a character!
“A deliciously maddening creature,” says Giulietta, “although she says I’m not allowed to call her a creature.”
The family’s favourite place in South Africa is the Kei Mouth/Morgan Bay area.
“I spent most of my childhood holidays there and the memory of its smells, and air, and sounds is probably part of my cellular makeup.”
One of the columns Giulietta oversees is the weekly Financial Mail profile page, Backstory, which is a Q&A with prominent business leaders. She even did a Backstory feature on Carel not too long ago! So, we thought we’d return the favour, with a couple of Backstory questions thrown into our own selection.
Q: What has been your most memorable interview ever?
A: My first – where I interviewed a UCT academic on a book he’d written on the stock market. I loved it so much I knew I’d found what I wanted to do.
Q: Do you believe anything is changing when it comes to gender equality in the workplace? Or anywhere?
A: Yes, profoundly. Our editor, Rob Rose is basically surrounded by a team of highly competent women; though I still think we are really bad at pushing for pay that’s comparable. We all seem to suffer from the imposter syndrome. I’ve gotten cross about things that are quite clearly not working and been called hysterical (by a man). That was infuriating.
Q: Where should we start fixing SA?
A: At municipal level. Look at what Chris Pappas is doing in Umngeni – the fixes are so basic – and so profound. It will rejuvenate our small towns, our cities, our economy, and our civic pride – and it’s none of it rocket science. Just weed the damn verges and do the accounts properly – then we can go big.
Q: What’s the best life advice your parents ever gave you?
A: Just give it a go! (Also, on his deathbed, my father’s dying words were: “Keep your voice down”. Good advice for a shouty person, that I’m always forgetting.
Q: In turn, what’s the best life advice you’ve ever given your daughter?
A: I asked Lucia this morning what’s the most important thing she’s learned from mummy and daddy and she said: “loving nature”. In my opinion, though, it’s “have a wee before bed time”.
Q: Backstory question #1: If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
A: Can I say littering? Ok, no… unemployment.
Q: Backstory question #2: What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
A: I’m a bit of an open book, but not an especially exciting one. I was painfully shy as a child. Or that I can dance like Elaine from Seinfeld.
Q: What are you reading right now? How is it going?
A: I’m reading The Body by Bill Bryson. It’s delightful, but slow-going as I am lured too easily by social media’s pull. Also: Colin would know this as he is the Tartar chief of a VERY strict book club, which I have now infiltrated.
Q: Where do you fall in the highly polarising Marmite debate. Yes or no?
A: NO. I’m a Bovril girl through and through!
Check out Giulietta’s work on the BusinessLive website, catch her show Stock Watch on BDTV (DStv channel 412) just after 6.30pm Monday to Thursday and 7.30pm on a Friday, and follow @GTalevi on Twitter. You won’t be disappointed.