Awards speech from Kristina Miller, HAU Chair
In 2017, the Herschel Alumnae Union received 14 nominations for the Caroline Herschel Award. The selection committee reviewed each and every nomination thoroughly and although the decision was a difficult one, in the end, the overwhelming choice made was, Nicky Newton-King.
Nicky has been the Chief Executive of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange since January 2012 and joined the JSE 21 years ago from Webber Wentzel, one of South Africa’s largest law firms, where she was a partner. Prior to becoming CEO, she was Deputy CEO for 8 years and has been a member of the JSE’s Board of Directors since December 2000. She has also served on the Board of the World Federation of Exchanges for nearly 6 years.
Nicky matriculated as Herschel’s first Deputy Head Girl and head of the Boarding House in 1984. During her time at Herschel, she established herself as an all-rounder with high-level academic and sporting achievements, including provincial colours for squash. She graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a BA LLB degree and in 1994 obtained an LLM degree from the University of Cambridge in England.
In 2003 she was a World Economic Forum Global Leader of Tomorrow as well as South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year.
The things of which she can be most proud during her time at the JSE include:
- the JSE being rated for 8 years in a row as one of the best 3 regulated securities exchanges in the world
- the implementation of the JSE’s first Affirmative Action programme, resulting today in the JSE having a staff that is 52% female, 66% black and an executive that is 66% female – unprecedented in the industry locally
- the launch of the Socially Responsible Investment Index to track the sustainability practices of JSE listed companies and the first such index in the world. The JSE’s initiative was initially viewed with considerable scepticism by peer exchanges globally but has subsequently been followed by many leading exchanges. Their pioneering work in this area continues to attract considerable attention globally as the area of sustainable investment becomes more mainstream
- the work she does on the defence of the realm (probably around 30% of her time), especially as South Africa struggles with State Capture, declining growth and an increasing Gini co-efficient. She has had to have courageous conversations with everyone from the State President to CEOs of our largest listed companies; from the heads of political parties and trade unions to the heads of the world’s largest rating agencies. These conversations have resulted in her being involved in a number of important moments in our country’s history – for instance being with Minister Gordhan when he was recalled from London resulting in the country’s precipitous loss of investment grade rating.
- Nicky sees it as a privilege to lead the JSE and with that privilege comes great responsibility – something she takes very seriously.
Nicky is a wife and mother of 2 growing sons and when not working can be found cooking with her family or barefoot in the garden. She tries to find time to cycle or exercise and recently completed her first sprint triathlon
Nicky on a personal note, I am so incredibly proud of the work you have done in the industry and for women in this country. As the first winner of this award, I think it goes without saying that you an inspiration to us all, congratulations.