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When You Siya Chance, Take It!

Knock, knock, knocking on Opportunity's door...

Never start something you can’t complete. In life everything is a trade-off between risk and reward.

Those ‘Bortzisms’ are the lenses through which 21-year-old Siya Nhlapo navigates his own life these days since a random knock on a door in the upmarket Atlantic Seaboard suburb of Fresnaye saw ‘Opportunity’ open with a broad smile and a life-changer.

Cape Racing’s Siya Nhlapo – man of many talents! (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

Siya has become a regular feature on Cape Racing television screens and we know him as the man who interviews the winning Grooms with such extraordinary unparalleled vigour and enthusiasm.

You know the guy – first the imaginary drum roll, and then the smile, followed by…“Ladies and gentlemen…”

As an icebreaker, and astonished by his courage in knocking on doors rather than the traditional social media route, we had to ask the obvious – ‘how many doors does one have to knock on before Opportunity answers?’

“16 to be exact,” adds Siya matter-of-factly, before breaking into a broad smile.

Born to academic parents in the Free State city of Bethlehem, Siya relocated to the Cape with his family approximately 10 years ago.

While he has chosen to walk an individualistic path in life, he holds culture and family bonds in high regard. He admits that he leans towards his Sotho background in a Zulu-Sotho home.

He observes that he and his older sister were raised in a cultural but modern home, where education and goal orientation were important to their individual choices.

A UCT honours engineering student with a passionate focus on A.I and mechatronics, he is, thanks to his bold unsolicited knock on the door of the Bortz residence, also Cape Racing’s Grooms’ interviewer and a fast growing friendly, familiar face in the horseracing community.

“The backstory is a life-changing one” he says. “So, it’s not just the horseracing. Trust me, I love horses and I’ve been in the industry for almost two years now, and I believe everyone’s story is unique. But because this is my personal story, it’s close to my heart. And it all starts with Mr. Greg Bortz.”

A  bundle of mental energy, Siya tells us that in 9th grade when he was introduced to financial math, the power of compounding hit him square between the eyes.

“I knew then that I wanted to accumulate wealth and let compounding work for me and not against me. I started to think of capitalism and the financial industry as analogous to human nature. This is because financial markets are as unique and unpredictable as we are.”

So, the 9th grader was fascinated by ‘the power of compounding’, and he comfortably chats about this as though inspiration of this nature is the norm.

“Why am I here – that’s a very important question. Because I’m doing things in University that deal with artificial intelligence, so why here with horseracing? It’s because I am here for a reason. I want to be here.”

We pause and absorb the simple and authentic response. Choice is, after all, that which directs life. It’s the dedication towards the choice that establishes the end result, no?

Having already set his goals on the accumulation of wealth, when faced with the choice of which future qualification and field he would pursue, Siya tells that he chose not to opt for a financial field of studies simply because of the high levels of finance industry saturation.

He opted for a path less travelled and, taking into consideration the broad scope within engineering, it was a no-brainer option.

He would focus on the rather young field of mechatronics.

With his first year beginning in a world in the grip of Covid, he understood that improving his finance knowledge would have to come from an aggressive self-driven standpoint.

So, he began reaching out to CFO’s, CEO’s and financial specialists on LinkedIn. Despite many of these attempts falling on deaf ears, Siya continued on the path by next visiting finance companies and asking for assistance.

Sadly, he was only met with guidance on how to pursue a career in the industry, but no substantial knowledge that would get him any closer to his goals.

It was time to change his approach! Having understood the discipline behind the industry and knowing that he would most likely get more interaction on one-on-one meetings, he set off on foot on a chilly winter’s day through the affluent Cape residential areas, in the hope of meeting prospective mentors.

On 25 June 2022 – a lifechanging one, in hindsight – the brave idealist set off for Fresnaye.

Not surprisingly, most of the doors he knocked at were not exactly welcoming and, where he was not ignored, he was dismissed as someone seeking out hand-outs and cash.

 

On the fringe of calling it a day, and with sensitive knuckles, he was passing Clifton when he met a few security personnel walking dogs. A short chat later and he was helping them get the dogs back home.

He arrived at a high-security residence where he was met by a voice on the intercom asking how he could be helped.

While explaining his goals to the individual, the intercom disconnected after 2 minutes.

Feeling a tad deflated and admitting that he needed to clearly work on his sales skills, he did not expect the door to open.

One can almost hear the admiration in his voice as Siya says, “This individual appears and just happens to be Gregory Bortz.”

He was invited in and the two went back and forth sharing their stories. “A sense of authenticity,” Siya adds as the term best he could use to identify his admiration and description of a man who would become a mentor.

He had finally found someone to listen, and who could resonate with his path and provide the guidance needed.

The notebook he was using to mark off his route is something he still treasures as a keepsake today.

Siya has played his own support role in the fairytale that is the renaissance of Cape Racing.

Siya with another Grooms incentive beneficiary (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

We asked how he keeps his cool and maintains that confident ability to think on his feet, more so that his interaction is with a generally more introverted sector of the racing ecosystem.

He explains that it has become important to provide the grooms with the recognition they well deserve.

Siya explains how he simply believes that once there is a connection with the person being interviewed, it becomes easier to help them relax and it gives them the confidence to be heard.

Siya speaks of this area of his job as more of a learning experience of great value to him, than a job itself.

The power of compound may have kick-started Siya’s journey, but he ends our conversation suggesting that “the reward isn’t always monetary.”

 

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3 comments on “When You Siya Chance, Take It!

  1. Norman fago says:

    Heart warm story of siya hope he go from strength to strength and thumbs up to greg bortz for opening the door to him

  2. Michael Jacobs says:

    Well done to Siya, a very pleasant and exuberant young man.

    I have always found that the interviews with the winning grooms in the past were “awkward”, as the presenters did’nt get the best out of the grooms, maybe it was a language, education or shyness issue, but with Siya he clearly connects with them on a more familiar level. Our grooms do need to be uplifted in a number of areas- attire, language, education level and professionalism. Not that its entirely their fault, it is a legacy of the past, but it needs to change. Think of the “head lad” in England, a well-dressed, probably well spoken professional; taht’s where our grooms need to be.

    Maybe between Craig du Plooy and Siya they can transform our grooms into the professionals they need to be in the modern world of work.

  3. I find this story very inspiring it’s a clear indication that never stop at anything or let anything stop you .I hope this success story reaches many both young and old .

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