In previous issues of fresh milk we’ve sung the praises of fellow countrymen who achieved international icon status. We have, however, not yet scratched the surface – not even close!

Apparently South African immigrants in the US number only 83,000 – a “small number even for a big city”, says Professor Nancy Foner, an expert on immigration achievement at the City University of New York.

Past December, the Silicon Valley Business Journal made a remarkable statement regarding four of their first five winners of the US’s high-tech chief executive officer awards, which features competition from the likes of Google’s Larry Page. It said:

“Here’s something interesting about our executive of the year awards, something that hadn’t occurred to us at the time that these four executives were selected – they are all originally from South Africa.”

Interesting enough, most of these men, and others, have risen to the cutting edge of American business with remarkable anonymity.

Former Illovo schoolboy Steven Collis, almost unnoticed, has taken the reins of healthcare wholesaling company AmerisourceBergen, listed 29th on the Fortune 500, with 13,000 employees, and annual revenues of an almost ridiculous R600-billion.

Same story in science: the single greatest breakthrough in cancer treatment in recent years – epigenetic therapy – has been credited to Stellenbosch’s Peter Jones, who now runs a major research center in California.

Another South African, Dr. Liam Pedersen, grabbed what could be the most exotic job in the US. He leads a NASA research team to develop the brains of ‘intelligent’ space robots that will explore the solar system in search of extraterrestrial life.

The moral of the story: you can never keep a good man down!

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