Doors open for Myles Ruck

2002-01-20 15:57

Johannesburg - When it comes to corporate careers, there are those who are earmarked at an early stage for greater things and are trained accordingly.

Then there are those who advance because the others who were selected have for a variety of reasons left to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

It looks as if Myles Ruck (46), the designated deputy CEO of Standard Bank Investment Corporation (Stanbic), falls in the category of those who advance after others have left.

Ruck, large of stature and with a strong voice, was appointed to this post on Friday. But he still retains responsibility for SCMB, as well as Stanbic's commercial activities, group marketing and communications.

There is no getting away from the fact that he is a capable manager. But it certainly looks, and this is confirmed by others at the bank, that if the former crown prince, Mark Barnes, had stayed at Stanbic, he and not Ruck would now have been the golden boy.

But in 1996 Barnes decided to go his own way. He left Stanbic and later started Capital Alliance. Today he is a corporate entrepreneur with interests in various businesses, including Primedia.

There are rumours that Barnes had his eye on the top position in Stanbic and that one of the reasons for his leaving was that Maree was appointed in this position ahead of him. Sources say it was at this period that Ruck gave Maree critical support.

Barnes's resignation paved the way for Ruck's appointment in 1998 as managing director of SCMB, the same position the present Stanbic CEO, Jacko Maree, filled in the early Nineties. It took a long time for Ruck and his team to dissipate the perception that SCMB had lost some of its entrepreneurial expertise when Barnes left. But today this is no longer the case. Ruck has proved himself.

The increasing workload at Stanbic clearly calls for new management appointments to cope with the new challenges the group is facing.

Much is expected from Stanbic this year, and analysts say this is the one share in the bank sector to watch. False steps cannot be afforded now, especially bearing in mind that SCMB is one of the biggest players in merchant banking and has exposure to virtually all the large corporate transactions in the country. This increases the risk of something going wrong somewhere.

There is no doubt that Ruck's success at SCMB is an important reason for his progress. SCMB has proved itself as one of the more successful merchant banks in the country recently, especially against the background of sluggish economic growth and a market segment which is under pressure.

The foundation has been laid for greater income when the expected increase in economic growth occurs.

Indications that Ruck was destined for greater things were apparent as early as March last year when he was appointed to the board of Standard Bank of South Africa, a subsidiary of Stanbic.

At the time of his appointment of head of SCMB, Ruck attributed SCMB's success to the good credit system that was in place. A credit committee met twice a week, and any new business had to be approved by the committee. Problem accounts were checked on an ongoing basis.

"But it is not SCMB's policy to get out if things are not going quite smoothly with a certain company. That would be irresponsible. You have to work with the company and the management."

He admits the work was sometimes stressful, but he enjoyed it. He emphasised that teamwork and motivation played an important role at SCMB. That is why it was rather unpleasant when someone of the quality of Barnes left. But a new team has been built up since.

In some circles in Stanbic, it is said Ruck is now being rewarded for his loyalty. The loyalty was apparent especially during Nedcor's failed takeover bid for Stanbic. According to those in Stanbic's inner circles, Ruck was one of the leading supporters of resistance against Nedcor's "impudent" takeover bid.

At the time, he said he wanted to do nothing but lead SCMB. Now there are new responsibilities. Whatever Maree's future plans are, there is no doubt that Ruck is one of those who will come into consideration when this door opens and Maree is no longer in the seat.

Ruck enjoyed his schooling at St Andrews in Grahamstown, after which he studied at the universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand. He also did postgraduate studies at Harvard University. He is married and has three children.

He is known as a person who works hard and plays hard. He is well known on the golf course, but admits his weakness is taking work home at the weekend.

We have clearly not heard the last of Myles Ruck.