Ivan sat at the red light, taking the time to re-examine the interior of his brand-new Mercedes Benz S500. The tan leather was butter soft to the touch – and it smelled great. Its light colour was a nice compliment to the pearl white exterior of the powerful car.

 He glanced out and up at the towering glass buildings that framed Sandton’s money district, then back down at his location-appropriate Giorgio Armani power suit. As he straightened the pinstriped sleeve, he glanced at the time on his wristwatch—five to eight. “Simon, we need to pick up the pace,” he motioned to his driver. “I don’t want to be late for my meeting with the Chief Justice.”

Ivan Mashwengane, Legal Assistant at CEO, is remarkably specific about his future. Apart from the chauffeured Merc, the apartment in Sandton or Cape Town, the Armani suit and the meetings with the legal who’s who, he also insists that he needs to up his sneaker game! “I don’t have another plan for my life,” he smiles. “My dad always said, ‘if you have a plan B, it means you plan to fail.’ And my mom taught me that I had to work hard and do everything with full force.” Ivan’s colleagues tell us he seldom looks back in life. “He doesn’t look back because that’s not the way he’s going, I guess,” one of them adds.

The determined prospective attorney grew up in Soshanguve. “We didn’t have much money, but I found solace in the fact that we were surrounded by love.” He attended Hoerskool Langehoven and later matriculated at Ed-U-college Pretoria. Then he took a gap year before being accepted at the University of Johannesburg. He is now a student at the University of South Africa, completing his LLB. When asked about his reason for studying law, he quickly answers, “I didn’t need to think twice about it. A few of my friends who have big ambitions are lawyers – so I wanted that for me too! Plus, I honestly love a good suit,” he laughs. “But on a more serious note, there’s so much injustice in the world. The little that I can do makes me feel like I have somehow changed the world.”

Ivan helps to change that world while working at CEO. “CEO gives a voice to employers and assists with external labour disputes. I’m not really sure about other employer organisations, but I know our team works hard with passion and has a broad knowledge about labour law and application thereof.” He reflects on the threats and changes that CEO members are facing. “The pandemic has really changed things, and it’s challenging to adjust to a new normal. There are retrenchments, restructuring and changing business models that no one has tested before. Also, the shift to the 4th industrial revolution will have a huge influence on the success or failure of a business, so if we don’t stay abreast with constant change, employers run the risk of staying behind and eventually being redundant.”

Besides being smart and determined, Ivan’s work colleagues add that he’s a sweet, funny guy with an obsession with cologne. He smiles. “It’s true, I love good colognes. But oddly enough, it reminds me of the sweet smell of success and my future goals. “I am working so hard to get to where I am going, and that makes me feel proud.”

There’s no doubt that ‘Mr. Plan A’ will get the Merc, the luxury apartment, Armani wardrobe, enviable sneaker collection, and smellies for days…

Oh, and watch this space, because he’ll probably be advertising for a driver soon, too. If your name is Simon, you’re in with a great chance!!