Meet the Team

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.
Salvador Dali

About our team

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Becoming is better than being. Carol Dweck

Ajay Wasserman

Founder & CEO of Fio

Ajay is the CEO of the Fio Group and specialises as a wealth consultant while managing multiple teams across various industries. He began his professional career by starting his first company at the age of 17, which after two years had several departments established that together were turning notable profits.

Over this time, Ajay learned to guide continual business growth through a mix of his finance background, effective management and foresight. Since then, he has worked with numerous high profile clients and institutions, helping them develop actionable strategies to expedite financial growth.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given was

from an older entrepreneur that said, “Don’t be afraid to fail because your failures will teach you what you need to learn to have massive success in the future. There is no such thing as failures, only lessons learned.”

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

My experience as a young entrepreneur with my own business made me realise the shortfalls in the South African – and global – markets. Business owners have to manage their businesses by taking a holistic approach if they wish to achieve their financial goals.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I assist business owners and individuals in achieving their dreams. I also manage my own business by getting various personalities and genders and difficult people to work together.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

Definitely the Fio Group. Everything from the brand to the growth strategies and the structures. The excitement of envisioning the future of Fio.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

The skills of sales and motivation. If you can sell yourself and your product or services you will be successful; it doesn’t matter what the circumstances may be. Sales is a skill you learn and not something with which you are born.

Ajay Wasserman

Mark Ackermann

MD of Fio Marketing

Mark Ackermann, based in Lisbon, Portugal, is a founding partner and MD of Fio Marketing, the marketing arm of the Fio Group. He is an SEO specialist and has been working in the online marketing space for many years. He is involved in business development, campaign and team management, SEO implementation and account direction.

Mark was previously Head of SEO at Africa’s largest digital agency, Quirk (now Mirum), where he was responsible for top-tier clients such as Woolworths, Capitec Bank, ADT Security and Pam Golding Properties. He also mediated, reviewed and updated the fundamental & advanced SEO courses run by Red & Yellow.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

Don’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

My father. He was a gifted specialist that started and ran his own company.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I make sure that people can always find the toys they want.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

Our team. I’m really inspired by the talent we’re getting on board, by seeing Fio working together creatively and more effectively each day as a unit.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

Understanding your own value while avoiding comparison with others.

Admin

Grant Wood

Copywriting Lead

Grant Wood is a born and raised Capetonian. He has a BA from the University of Cape Town, majoring in English Literature and Social Anthropology, and a Diploma in Journalism from the Independent Institute of Education.

He specialises in website content creation, SEO optimised content and developing content marketing strategies. Grant strives to live up to the adage, ‘content is king’, using words to tell a brand’s exciting story to their ideal audience.

He has worked with blue-chip clients that include Allan Gray, Pondoro Game Reserve, Singita, Greeff Properties, Marie Stopes South Africa; Sanlam; Digicape and Knorr Foods.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

that the character of a man is truly tested when his back is against the wall. Fight every obstacle and never give up.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

My father. He was a teacher, life coach and author who believed that you always invest in people, not money.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I write and tell exciting stories to help people achieve their dreams.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

Article research to assist companies’ online visibility.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

Perseverance.

Admin

Steven van Wyk

Head of Development at Fio System Solutions

Steven is from Johannesburg but now resides in Cape Town. He has worked in the graphic design, desktop publishing, IT as well as web & mobile App Development industries. He has been a graphic designer for 22 years and been developing full-stack open source projects for the last 18 years.

He says, “I am a straight shooter without any candy-coated fluff around my responses. So, while they may be short, they are sincere. I believe that there is a solution to any problem. I live by the motto being ‘failure is a bruise, not a tattoo'”.

Notable clients include The Reeva Steenkamp Foundation; OhShip with Fresh and Euphonik and The Station on Bree.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

“Forgive everybody, every time as soon as possible!”

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

It wasn’t really a person, more the fact that I can create something functional as well as looks good. I love challenges, so problem-solving in the software development processes are something that really gets me going”.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I draw pretty pictures and type some text to make them show up on your mommies phone. And I get paid for it.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

CommDesk, Ministry Media Mastery and our in-house CRM system.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

Patience and tolerance.

Admin

Marnus Vermeulen

Video Production Specialist

Marnus has spent his life analysing and dissecting how video is produced. Whether it’s being behind the camera directing on location, or translating ideas from conception into fully realised pieces of visual art, he is focused only on bringing authenticity across in a streamlined message through his storytelling.

He finds inspiration in Christopher Nolan (his stellar attention to detail and dedication to telling a good, well-thought-through story every single time is incredible), as well as Ryan Connolly from Triune Films. He always reminds me that it is not the gear you use that’s in question, but rather the person behind the gear; be resourceful with what you have!

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

“Love with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

I would give the nod to two particular individuals who continue to inspire me: Christopher Nolan (his stellar attention to detail and dedication to telling a good, well-thought-through story every single time is incredible), as well as Ryan Connolly from Triune Films. He always reminds me that it is not the gear you use that’s in question, but rather the person behind the gear; be resourceful with what you have!

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I make entertaining movies that people enjoy watching.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

We created an animated explainer video for CommDesk, our software department’s latest project. Also, making the boss look cool on social media.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

Basic logic.

Admin

Jaco Pretorius

Audio & Visual Head

Jaco is the Audio & Visual division head for Fio. He’s been living in the Pretoria region for 21 years. Interestingly, he was a lieutenant in the SANDF Reconnaissance and Signals Defence force after school from 1999 for a few years, after that he entered into telecom sales and studied business management in Ireland.

He’s been in business expansion, sales and operations for 18 years now. In the telecoms, the electronic field and media field, heading up sales and operations teams in various corporate enterprises for the past 10 years. He’s incredibly grateful to be living his passion every day.

Jaco says, “Expanding into sectors I already owned and filtering into new ones along with improving what fio can offer our clients in a full turnkey solution aspect, is what made me join. At Fio Audio & Visual solutions, we’re aiming to deliver to retail and commercial institutions on point unforgettable sensory experiences.”

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

Never start something you’re not willing to finish!”

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

My love for vibe, music and digital content displays – Nothing more satisfying than creating the perfect brand experience.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

When you are in a shopping or retail environment, the more of the customer’s senses the brand can engage, the more likely the customer would be willing to spend money and also have a higher value for the product sold. We call that a Brand Experience.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

We are currently busy with a trial for Vida e Cafe, they want music and visual menu boards for their 65 coffee shops Nationwide.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

The best skill one can have is to be flexible and adaptable for any and all conditions of life, nothing is the right- side up anymore; the world is changing and forcing us to think outside the box.

Admin

Jaco Pretorius

Audio & Visual Head

Jaco is the Audio & Visual division head for Fio. He’s been living in the Pretoria region for 21 years. Interestingly, he was a lieutenant in the SANDF Reconnaissance and Signals Defence force after school from 1999 for a few years, after that he entered into telecom sales and studied business management in Ireland.

He’s been in business expansion, sales and operations for 18 years now. In the telecoms, the electronic field and media field, heading up sales and operations teams in various corporate enterprises for the past 10 years. He’s incredibly grateful to be living his passion every day.

Jaco says, “Expanding into sectors I already owned and filtering into new ones along with improving what fio can offer our clients in a full turnkey solution aspect, is what made me join. At Fio Audio & Visual solutions, we’re aiming to deliver to retail and commercial institutions on point unforgettable sensory experiences.”

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

Never start something you’re not willing to finish!”

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

My love for vibe, music and digital content displays – Nothing more satisfying than creating the perfect brand experience.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

When you are in a shopping or retail environment, the more of the customer’s senses the brand can engage, the more likely the customer would be willing to spend money and also have a higher value for the product sold. We call that a Brand Experience.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

We are currently busy with a trial for Vida e Cafe, they want music and visual menu boards for their 65 coffee shops Nationwide.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

The best skill one can have is to be flexible and adaptable for any and all conditions of life, nothing is the right- side up anymore; the world is changing and forcing us to think outside the box.

Admin

Isabel Moolman

E-Learning Communications and Operations

Isabel is a communications specialist. Together, with her husband, Herman, the duo facilitates Fio’s E-Learning division. She holds an HR Payroll Certifications and Business Support qualification and worked in this industry for more than 17 years. Notably, Isabel worked as a manager at the financial giant, Old Mutual.

She says, “My learning and development experience in the international corporate arena provided me with knowledge and skills to design, develop and implement suitable learning solutions for a wide variety of clients.”

Isabel is described as the ‘anchor’ of her family and the “carer” of all. She loves to paint during her spare time and ensures that her home is always full of character and a warm haven for all who visit. She bakes “killer pancakes” and always ensures that our house is full of joy and love.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

that the sun will shine again tomorrow.  Bright and beautiful!!  Although it may be above some thick and dark clouds, it will be shining.  And if there are NO clouds, of course it will be shining! Nothing in life is too heavy for the sun not to break through.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

Herman, my husband. Although this specific on-line training career only started as recent as two years ago.  He made it look soooo easy to do what he does, and of course he also needed somebody to assist him.  So I took it on…

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

We create computer lessons so that people (and very intelligent five-year-olds too), who knows how to use a computer, can study without a teacher.  AND whenever they feel like it.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

To create on-line training for people and companies who are intelligent enough to understand that they don’t need physical classrooms anymore.  And they can do it at half the budget.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

To learn how to “speak“ compassion fluently. It will open up your world!

Admin

Rory Theron

Human Resources Head

Rory grew up in Pietersburg. After high school, he completed a National Diploma in Human Resource Management at Pretoria Technikon. He started his career at the Department of Correctional Services working in Human Resources gravitating to training and development with an emphasis on career and management development. For almost two years he is seconded to the Minister of Correctional Services as an Assistant Private Secretary.

In 1997, he started pursuing a career in the recruitment consultancy industry. He soon realised there was a need in the market for a much broader HR service and he started his own consultancy, which addressed this real need for many clients. This approach would later become very known as Partnering. He has been consulting ever since, 20 years and gained vast experience over a broad spectrum of industries including mining, manufacturing, media, retail, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), security, agriculture, technology and hospitality.

Rory is an experienced mentor and coach, comfortably assuming the role of “go-to guy” because he enjoys volunteering guidance and support. His passion for people development is unyielding.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

that every interaction I have with a fellow human being has an impact, no matter how insignificant it may seem. My responsibility is to make sure that it builds a strong relationship.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

I was very fortunate to almost stumble across my career when I opted to study HR after school without really knowing what I wanted to do. It has proven to be destiny, and I have had many excellent mentors on my journey. I have also learned that there are almost always two things you can learn from someone; firstly, how to be and do something and secondly, how not to be or not to do things. They are both equally valuable.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I make the people in the company work together to be the best they can.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

To care and be able to help manage people in the work environment makes me feel privileged and humble.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

To be able to engage meaningfully with others.

Admin

Martie Theron

Employee Benefit Specialist

Martie graduated from the University of Pretoria majoring in Plant Pathology and Microbiology. She worked in the microbiology and serology laboratories at Drs Du Buisson and Partners until 1995. Later, Martie joined Liberty as a tied agent in 2000 and became an independent financial adviser in 2005. She has more than 20 years of experience in the Financial Industry. Martie joined Fio in 2018 to head up the Employee Benefits Department.

She always looks forward to providing the very best service to our clients and enabling employers to help their employees provide for retirement and to cover them for unforeseen events. Martie is also responsible for medical aid schemes and internal compliance.

“I have always been an advocate of life-long learning and continuously develop my skills and knowledge,” she says.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

to have respect for and be kind to other people because you don’t know what they are going through.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

A friend.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I sell group policies to companies to help their workers save for retirement and to cover them for unforeseen events like death, disability and dreaded diseases.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

I am studying and working hard to become a Professional Principal Executive Officer to help oversee and advise trustees of pension and provident funds.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

Communication & people skills.

Admin

Debbie Radley

Accounting & Tax Head

Debbie completed a three-year diploma in Financial Information Systems at the Cape Technikon. She then studied through the University of South Africa (Unisa) to obtain her BCompt degree while working full time. She qualified as a professional accountant in 2004.

Her core focus is delivering a personal, professional service to her clients. ‘My favourite task is individual tax, but I specialise in monthly accounting and payroll,’ she says. Her motto is: ‘You can accomplish by kindness, what you cannot by force.’

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

“You are not providing a service to a company, but a person. That person is as human as you are and have the same hopes and fears you do. Always think about how they would feel about the service you are providing them and think if there is any way in which you can make them feel better.”

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

I would have to say that it was my accounting teacher at school. I admired him and really enjoyed his teachings. He was so passionate about accounting that it made me excited to become an accountant one day.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

Every company in the world has money coming in and money going out. Customers pay you for your products and services, and you need to pay other companies for their products and services, pay the people who work for you, pay the bank for any loans and pay taxes to the government. My job is to make sure we write down how much money comes in and goes out and where it comes from or goes. I make sure that everyone that works at the company gets paid. So, essentially, if the company was an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine and the trains were money coming in and going out, I would be ‘The Fat Controller’.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

Being able to apply the same internal accounting standards and practices for how we run Fio to our customers’ businesses too. Helping struggling businesses get the funding relief they need to survive the COVID-19 crisis.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

I think everyone should learn how to touch type. It made such a huge difference in my life and helped me to save time every day.

Admin

Johan Vermeulen

Financial Planning Division Head

Johan Vermeulen is head of Fio Wealth Management. He grew up in Pretoria, where he still resides.

He began his career in banking in 1991. Years later, he left the banking industry and ran his own office in the long term insurance space for a specific insurer since 2014. This led him to realise that he could provide his clients with an alternative method to suit their needs, ‘I cannot offer only one company’s products. I have to provide my clients with the best financial solutions, which may include several insurers.’

Johan says he had to find a company that’s deserving of his clients and efforts. After a thorough search, he joined Fio Financial Planning. It has been just over a year now, and business could not be better.

His achievements include Appointment as Area Manager in a banking group (BoE Bank, 2001) and Regional Sales and Service Manager (Nedbank, 2006). He left banking in 2014 and became a Business Principal in my own Liberty Life Franchise managing a team of 11 brokers.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

from the movie Forrest Gump. “Life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you are going to get”. Sometimes you have to do what is hard to be successful.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

My passion for my career arose from my father’s passing. The realisation that my mother could have been better off financially if my dad had a decent financial planner created that drive in me to try and ensure that all my clients were cared for, and financially supported.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I show you how to look after your money, so you don’t lose it.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

Currently, we are growing the Fio Financial Planning division. New Branch Managers are being appointed, and they are in return, appointing Financial Advisers working for them. Exciting times lie ahead.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

The skill I would want everyone in the division and company to cultivate.

Admin

Karishma Maharaj

Legal Support Division Head

Karishma is from Pietermaritzburg in KZN but has been living in Midrand since 2008.

She graduated from Unisa with an LLB degree in 2016 and served her articles with a firm called Fivaz Incorporated Attorneys. She was then admitted to the High Court as an attorney.

She has a wealth of experience in payroll and HR. Karishma has worked as an HR and payroll consultant for many years before moving to the legal side. Previous companies that she has worked at include Nedbank, FNB and Media 24.

Karishma loves the fact that Fio is such a diverse company with so many different professions and says that ‘I am glad that I will be involved in all the different entities.’

“I love the fact that this is such a diverse company with so many different professions and that I will be involved in all the different entities. So, I look forward to working with everyone and building relationships with everyone at Fio as well as learning about each of the different sectors and seeing how I can make a difference to each of them,” she says.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

that nothing is beyond my capabilities and if I want something in life, I need to go out there and get it.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

My family, making the people that I love proud, has been a driving force for me in everything that I have ever set out to achieve.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

My job consists of reading tons of documents, doing research, drafting legal documents and advising my colleagues and clients to help everyone to ensure that they are not getting into trouble with the law.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

There is nothing cool about what I do, but it is all very very necessary, and I have a passion for what I do so for me every task I complete makes me feel like, hey that was cool that I did that.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

Interpersonal skills. I believe that if you can communicate well with people, in any situation that’s half your battle won.

Admin

Ivin Viljoen

Communications specialist/Media Coach

Ivin grew up in Kempton Park. He has a Ministerial Major from Rhema Bible College and a certificate in counselling but learned a lot from the gritty ‘streets’ of online media and communications. He has since won numerous blogging awards including ‘Best Publishing Blog’ from the World Media Awards and Best Digital Media from Creation Arts Awards.

He is an international media coach for pastors and ministries, multiple media award winner, published author and director of various media, marketing and business organisations. He is passionate about communications, leadership and building teams. He is currently working on developing these channels specifically for Fio and its affiliates.

Ivin started coaching in 2015 because he loved seeing clients create content and communicate their message effectively. He comments, “I met Ajay early in 2020 where we started working together on his platform, after which he asked me to join the Fio team.”

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

to build ‘A’ team(s)

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

Gary Vaynerchuck

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I teach old people how to tell stories on video for Youtube and ‘radio’.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

I’m excited to be working on ‘The Fio Factor’ show where I help current, and future customers get to know the people in the Fio team and the values that will make us the biggest and best business services company in the world.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

Everyone should learn to communicate effectively and the application of empathy through active listening.

Admin

Herman Moolman

E-Learning Head

Herman grew up in Pretoria aka ‘Blue Bull Country’. He studied at the University of Pretoria, completing a B.Ed (Psychology, Maths, Physical Education); B, Ed (Hons); M.Ed – Computer Assisted Education and a PhD specialising in E-learning and Computer-Assisted Education. He began his career as a maths teacher at Wierdapark Primary School.

He says that he decided to join Fio “due to an ambitious young man’s power of persuasion – SA’s own “Richard Branson”. It provided me with the opportunity to fulfil my dream of being part of a bigger family while doing what I love – bringing education to more people by using technology.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

“Never give up! Good material is like a mushroom. It just keeps on growing, despite the conditions.”

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

Incompetent teachers. I thought I’d like to treat young learners the way they should be treated – with more compassion, understanding of individual differences and enthusiasm.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

You tell the computer what you want to learn and do, and it will listen to you. You are the boss – it will listen to you and help you become very intelligent and knowledgeable. It is excellent to know things, and if you don’t know, the computer will help you find out.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

With the new branding coming up soon, I can’t wait to launch our learning platform (LMS) our Online Academy – to become the first funky, sexy, “FIO Online Academy”.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

Listen with understanding.

Admin

Laura le Roux

Social Media Head

Laura grew up in sunny Durban but now resides in beautiful Pretoria. She studied Hospitality Management at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). She began her career working at game lodges in South African bushveld, but it took a rather unsuspecting turn to the world of banking.

She is a self-taught Social Media maestro who took her own blog, HarassedMom from obscurity into being one of the most read blogs for mothers in the South African space – helping them to understand their unique challenges and how to work to overcome them as a community. She has since worked for years with clients through her own agency, managing their social presence to connect authentically with their prospective audiences. Over the last 14 years, she has honed her skills to bring the absolute highest quality work to her clients, which is why we are proud to have her as part of the Fio team.

The best piece of advice I've ever been given is

pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?

It wasn’t one person but rather the job itself. Being able to combine writing and working with amazing clients seemed like the perfect job.

How would you describe your job to a bunch of five-year-olds?

I work on my computer helping people tell you about what they do.

What's the coolest thing you're working on right now at Fio?

Compiling Fio’s social media marketing campaigns.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?

Effective communication. A lot of the world’s issues could be resolved through simple communication.

Admin

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