The American Debate League reports that students who actively participate in debate teams or activities are twice as likely to graduate High School as their peers who do not. In fact, it is shown that learning to debate and speak publicly reaps life-long benefits such as developing excellent oral and written communication skills, improved critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities, and an increased desire to participate in constructive processes.

Colleagues of Tiaan Visagie, Senior Dispute Resolution Official at CEO, describe him as an excellent problem-solver and a positive contributor in dispute resolution matters. He credits his positive upbringing and his passion for debate and problem solving for this ability. “From a young age, I enjoyed reading newspapers and keeping updated on politics in South Africa. I also enjoyed arguing with people and hearing their views on certain aspects of life – I think that is what drew me closer to the legal field,” says Tiaan. “I also enjoy serving people and helping them solve their problems, or alternatively providing recommendations of how their difficulties can possibly be solved.”

There’s no doubt that this capacity is crucial in Tiaan’s role at CEO. “We constantly strive to understand our members’ individual needs,” he explains. “For instance, many small and medium businesses are struggling to keep up with wage increases in these difficult times we find ourselves in.”

Tiaan was born in Standerton in Mpumalanga before his family moved to Nelspruit and then Middelburg, where he completed his high school career. “My childhood was just awesome!” he beams. “We used to play outside all the time, from riding our bicycles to playing touch rugby on the field.” He says his parents taught him that you are never too old to have fun and to live life to the fullest. Tiaan cherishes time with his family. “I was truly blessed with the family and upbringing I had,” he says, reflecting on the effect the Covid-19 pandemic has had on families around the world. “I wish I’d spent more time with my grandparents before they passed away. I think it is very important to spend quality time with your loved ones, especially in the times we live in now.”

Tiaan is equally contemplative about other lessons and reminders from the past 30 months – that it is important to live in the moment. “Often, we as individuals feel the need to paint a picture of where we want to be in 5 or 10 years; but then we completely forget to live in the moment. We are not guaranteed that there will be a tomorrow.” He’ll get no argument there.

After matriculating, Tiaan studied Law at the North-West University, achieved a post-graduate Diploma in Management, and completed an uninterrupted course at the School for Legal Practice in Potchefstroom. “Apart from my parents and brother, my residence housemaster, Professor Nic Kotze, as well as the Director of the Potchefstroom School for Legal Practice, Marlene Steyn, were my greatest career influencers.”

When asked to describe his vision for the future, Tiaan adopts a holistic and unselfish view. “My vision for the future will be a place and time where every South African is truly happy. It will be a beautiful scene!” Tiaan’s personal version of happiness exists with his friends and family, playing golf and spending good quality time outdoors, hunting and staying active. “Oh, and a nice big piece of steak or a delicious slice of pizza!”

Tiaan’s favourite television series is ‘Breaking Bad’, his favourite movie is ‘Pearl Harbor’, and he enjoys listening to the podcasts of Joe Rogan. His top choice of restaurant? “Without a doubt, Crawdaddy’s!” he claims. There are some who may differ with him on that choice. Still, you’re welcome to change his mind. Good Luck with that!