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Francois Adriaan

Futurist Profile


Francois Adriaan

Head: Group Corporate Affairs Sanlam Brand


MBA - Stellenbosch University
Thesis - Developing a tool to manage and monitor organisational transformation
BA, English, Psychology - University of Cape Town
HDE - University of Cape Town

Francois answered a few questions about his perspective and on being a futures thinker.


You identify yourself as an African futures thinker or practitioner. How would you describe to the woman or man on the street what it is that you do in this regard?

I look at what flows out of different forms of research & add to that reports that analysts put together and other sources of information which are in the public domain. Using these bits of information, I help to craft business insights to support business strategy.

How many years have you worked as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

In one form or another, I have been inputting into elements of business strategy in financial service for at least a decade. Sometimes this has been in the marketing space and sometimes this has been around incentive design. All this might not fit comfortably into the futures thinker category but they do require elements of scanning the horizon for signals and crafting possible responses to those signal. They do also require the ability to envision desired futures and put together plans to achieve them.

In which countries or places have you had working experience as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

Across the breadth of South Africa and some exposure and influence on activities in India.

In what languages have you undertaken futures / foresight related work or research?


What is it that motivates you to work or participate in the foresight / future studies / related field

The challenge and energy that flows from applying your mind to the present with a view to get a glimpse of a possible & desired future and then to help construct that future. It’s always great to be actively involved in generating something, rather than taking a passive role and allowing things to happen to you.

What goal/s would you most like to reach with your work as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

Through the Sanlam group, to have an impact on the financial futures of the millions of people who share this continent with us. This impact needs to be in a tangible way, like providing access to financial peace-of-mind and in an empowering way, by building an understanding of how financial matters operate and impact on our lives. So impacting financial literacy and providing access to the tools to apply this understanding in a beneficial way for the individuals and groups. Also to influence, the process of making financial advice and products available which meet the very diverse needs of customers.

Who or what most influenced your thinking as a futures thinker / practitioner, and how?

Numerous visionary leaders who I have worked with in various corporate structures and in a collection of NGO’s.

What is your main disciplinary background? (i.e. your primary training / qualification)

My academic background is in education with a BA qualification and MBA.

How do other people describe you and how do you describe yourself?

Others describe me as… focused

I describe myself as… passionate



What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim

How would you describe the state of African futures thinking right now?

In a bit of disarray but optimistic with good reason. Still feels more led than leading but growing in confidence.

What is, in your opinion, the main barrier to uptake of futures knowledge by African institutions and organisations?

A lack of understanding of what a futures approach involves and the value that it can potentially add. The misconception that it is not based on a well thought-out, rigorous approach which relies on skills in insights rather than just guess-work and crystal-ball gazing.

If you were to give advice to someone who wants a career in African foresight / future studies, what would you say to him or her?

Find a field of interest and expertise which speaks to your passion and pays the bills and apply the principles and benefits of futures thinking to that field.

What are your recommended readings for every African futures thinker / practitioner?

Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership by Joseph Jaworski

What are your recommendations for other favourite futures resources: websites, newsfeeds, mailing lists, associations, etc.?


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