A Business Leader with Heart

Geoffrey Rothschild shares why he believes in the NMCH dream and what he has done to help it become a reality.

A qualified chartered accountant, a chartered marketer and an Honorary Industrial Fellow at the Da Vinci Institute of Technology, Geoff is a past chairman of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) who has had an over 50 years’ association with the JSE as an auditor, stockbroker and working for the organisation.

In his various roles, he has had experience in finance, marketing, conference organising and stakeholder relations. He has been involved with a number of institutions in responsible roles inter alia African Stock Exchange Association, SADC Stock Exchange Committee, National Advisory Council for Innovation, Brand South Africa, Nepad Business Foundation, Education Africa, Business Leadership South Africa, Grootbos Foundation, and of course Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust.

He is a consultant to Control Risks, Hill & Knowlton, Boston Consulting Group, Amrop Landelahni, as well as Siyenza.

Geoff has chaired audit committees and served as a director of numerous organisations. His interests have all been focused on contributing to South African society, mentoring and making a difference in the lives of others.

We spoke to Geoff to find out more about his involvement in the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust.

Q: When and how did you become involved in the NMCH project?

A: I had always had great respect for Mr Nelson Mandela and Mrs Graça Machel. I believed in Mandela’s dream to build a child-centred hospital that would serve children’s healthcare needs in Southern Africa. I became involved after being approached in the start-out phase of the hospital project. It was a momentous occasion to be part of the site dedication ceremony, where Madiba was also present, on the site that is today the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.

Q: Please give us a brief description of your role/s in the project?

A: My role has been that of Patron. I pursued the opportunity to secure the partnership with The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Canada, an internationally highly regarded facility which has had the expertise to help and guide NMCH in the developmental phase and beyond.

Further to that, I have promoted the hospital project with all my contacts at every opportunity in order to create awareness and fundraising opportunities.

Q: Have there been particular fundraising or other challenges unique to this project?

A: There have been so many competing causes, it makes it difficult to raise funds. The hospital has however received support from fundraising initiatives by SWEAT 1000 and the SABC.

Q: How do you feel about the fact that Madiba’s dream to build a child-centred hospital has been realised?

A: It is greatly satisfying to know that Madiba’s dream has been realised. The magnificently constructed and equipped facility has the ability to provide much-needed care to children who are devoid of such facilities.

In addition, it is a teaching facility for hospitals in the proximity and further afield. Mrs Graça Machel has, with the wonderful staff and board, been a dedicated stalwart to bring this to reality.

Q: What have you enjoyed most about being involved in the project?

A: Seeing the building completed. When people see where all their donations are going, it becomes real. For me, that has been an incredible milestone: seeing Madiba’s dream fully come to life.

Q: Of all the future possibilities of this hospital, what do you hope will be the most significant change this building will bring?

A: Better, specialised healthcare for the kids, our future leaders. This is such a great cause – it’s going to transform child health care in Southern Africa. I trust this groundbreaking initiative will be replicated by other countries across the African continent.