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Nico Jacobs - McDonald's Chief Operating officer & Entrepreneur

Nico Jacobs

Nico oversees McDonald’s SA company owned restaurant chain, their Franchising, Operations, IT and Business Development departments. Over the past 15 years, Nico has worked in leadership roles across different industries, prior to the food service industry he worked in banking and was the Managing Exec for Small Business at Barclays/ABSA.


Ivan was a key member of my team in achieving remarkable things in our business. His ability to navigate through many different types of relationships and conversations in a single day is impressive. He is quite at home working with people right across the business from Sales and Marketing, IT, Call Centres and Operations to Finance and Actuarial. This reflects his deep understanding of business and explains why he is so useful in any Rescue or Turnarounds. He'll add value in any situation in which he finds himself.
It's also pleasing to see Nafeesa, Noluthando and Jessica, all of whom I met and worked with years ago, continuing their powerful collaboration.

Coenraad de Jager - Executive GM of Commercial, Personal & Distribution at Mutual & Federal

Coenraad de Jager

Coenraad manages a portfolio in excess of R10 Billion. Prior to M&F he was the Head Consultant on short-term insurance at Towers Watson. He has held other senior roles at Sanlam Individual Life, Volkskas Pension Services, Absa Insurance Company. Coenraad is a mathematician.


Ivan is someone who knows how to apply his mind and to think independently, but what struck me when he took over the failing scheme was the amount of time he invested in people, all of whom grew a tremendous amount with him. His adaptability in being able to do the pricing on an insurance portfolio and then in the same day support managers when having difficult conversations with our business partners was testament to his commitment to our business, which he had a big impact upon. 5 years of loses were turned around within 9 months.

Prof Gerhard Coetzee - Financial Sector Specialist at CGAP- Washington, DC

Gerhard Coetzee

Before joining CGAP at the World Bank, he was the Head of Inclusive Banking Strategic Initiatives at Absa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Inclusive Banking in Africa and Extraordinary Professor in Agricultural Economics (responsible for Agricultural and Rural Finance) at the University of Pretoria.


As an academic I appreciate people who can both understand detail in a refined and subtle sense, as well as roll up their sleeves and get things done, showing commitment and perseverance. Although Ivan and Noluthando, can be tough, they are always fair and set very high standards for themselves, always leading by example. These are the qualities that any struggling business, especially those in financial distress badly need. A reflection on the quality of their work is the fact that we won a prestigious award for innovation for the part of the work we delivered together.

LeRoy Munetsi - Managing Director of Standard Trust Limited

Leroy Munetsi

Leroy has held a number of executive level positions including Executive Head for Business Insurance at Telesure (a leading direct short term and life insurer), Executive for Africa & New Markets at Mutual & Federal (a leading traditional short term insurer), and Chief Operating Officer of Absa Life (a leading bancassurer).


I remember quite clearly just how alternative and different Ivan's thinking can be, and his mantra of "Noble Purpose" reflects this. He always insisted that as insurers, what we did was not pay claims, but save jobs at our client's companies and in so doing make a powerful contribution to our communities and the country, something to be proud of. Senior staff, not far from retirement, admitted to never seeing their job in such a light. In my opinion, being able to connect the heart to the hands to the mind is what counts, and is often lacking in businesses attempting to transform themselves.

Peter Todd - CEO and Entrepreneur

Peter Todd

Director and Past President of the Insurance Institute of South Africa, former CEO of various global insurance brands and now founder of the industry innovative and game-changing - Repair Solutions


Ivan’s hands on approach, lack of political agendas and passion for understanding facts and figures gives him an uncanny ability to cut through the malaise of noise that often cloud the real issues in a business. Problems can’t be solved until you know what the real issues are in your business! I suppose this is why I have had many hours of insightful and original thinking with Ivan on how Insurance should change, based on his most simple view, "How do I want insurance to work for me?" His unconventional thinking generates very conventional bottom-line value.

Philip Bowkley - Global Head of Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFI) at Barclays - London

Philip Bowkley

Philip has global accountability for Corporate Banking client coverage of insurance, specialty finance, funds, asset managers and FinTech companies.


I would work with Ivan and his team again, without hesitation. I know I'd have the commitment to my business that it would need. This would be an extremely capable addition that would only make my business stronger. I can safely say that you will not find better anywhere in the world, when you consider ability, attitude, values, education and experience. Any financially distressed firm would do well to have Ivan fighting in their corner.

Frequently asked questions on what we do and who we are.

Some of these might be applicable to our Business Rescue and Turnaround service, however for these, a chat is best. You can click this link to Call the Spark! Office although during normal hours we are invariably at clients, but you can leave a message or try Ivan's mobile .

We have tried to be detailed and yet also not too long-winded in our responses to these frequently asked questions. If you have any further questions, we will be happy to call you or respond via e-mail if you leave us your details via our Contact form.