Meet the Team
Donald MacKay, Director
I have done many things over the course of my career, from software development to computer auditing and then more recently international trade consulting. I have been involved with international trade consulting since 1998, ending as an Associate Director in the tax division at Deloitte. I did many different things in my time at Deloitte, always with a strong role in business development. My final role was Global Product Development Manager for international trade consulting products. I founded XA International Trade Advisors in 2003 because I wanted to see what could be done in the international trade consulting field outside of the constraints of the more structured environment present in the big audit firms. I have a passion for integrating technology into consulting and XA has led the way with technology-based solutions.
The result has been such things such as the creation of anti-dumping methodologies that have given us the highest success rate in the country, and data mining processes that have allowed us to bring significant and measurable benefits to many of South Africa’s largest multinationals. When I am not working, I love reading, cooking and experiencing new places. I am truly fortunate to work in an environment that allows me to see the world. Music is a huge part of my life and I am busy rediscovering the wonder of enjoying music on vinyl. I serve on the SAICA tax subcommittee on Customs and Excise.
Pieter du Plessis, Director
B.COM (HONS), CA (S.A.), H.DIP (TAX LAW) My journey took me on a long stint with Deloitte, starting with vacation work during grade 12 in 1984, to the beginning of 2004 when I finally left Deloitte to join XA with my fellow director Donald MacKay. Although I specialised in Corporate Tax at Deloitte, I had a growing involvement in large government incentive programmes, assisting the Department of Trade and Industry at some point with the drafting of the Section 12G tax incentive legislation. I carried this interest over to XA where we have been instrumental in securing a significant amount in grant funding for large private sector investment and infrastructure projects. I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A THING FOR NUMBERS, PARTICULARLY THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DIFFERENT VALUES. IT BECOMES PART OF YOUR LIFE, LOOKING FOR PATTERNS AND ANOMALIES, ALWAYS LOOKING FOR EXPLANATIONS AND ANOTHER WAY OF INTERPRETING WHAT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. The step to leave a large renowned firm and start a specialist consulting practice was probably the best thing I could ever have done. Client service is critical if a tiny start up firm wants to secure and retain blue chip clients and it became a way of life and doing business. XA’s current client portfolio underscores this philosophy. From starting out being half of a two-man band I am now part of an incredible team of people with very diverse skill sets. I enjoy observing and trying to understand people and their behaviour in dynamic interactions. The dynamic processes within this highly specialised group of individuals at XA fascinate me. Problem solving and smart execution is at the core of what we do and every team member plays a very specific role in these processes. Outside work I enjoy cycling and I am still striving to complete my 10th Argus Cycle Tour.
Taapano Paradza, Consultant
B.ADMIN, B.COM (HONS), M.PHIL (INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND INVESTMENT LAW)
I have always aspired to work in a problem-solving environment where l can make a positive contribution. Before my journey with XA, l worked in administrative positions and a few part-time academic positions. l decided to further my studies by pursuing a masters degree in International Trade Law.
This opened an exciting new world for me when l joined XA in 2011. l found myself at home, working in a challenging and intellectually stimulating environment with the best brains in the industry.
I ENJOY MY WORK AS IT IS NEVER ROUTINE AND INVOLVES SOLVING COMPLEX PROBLEMS ON A DAILY BASIS.
The nature of our assignments provides me with an opportunity to travel, which allows me to see new places and experience different cultures.
l have research interests in trade policy, regional integration, and other diverse issues of international trade law. For relaxation, l enjoy tennis and swimming.
Gustav Brink, Associate
B.COM, LLB, LLD (INTERNATIONAL TRADE LAW)
I was a founding member of the Board on Tariffs and Trade’s anti-dumping unit in 1992 and have been hooked on trade remedies ever since. I have a knack for figures and am good at law, and this is one of the few fields where I can combine the two passions. I joined International Trade Services in 1998 to consult on trade remedies, but was headhunted in 2001 to draft South Africa’s trade remedy legislation.
Since 2007 I have been advising foreign governments on four continents on trade remedies, trade policy, international trade law and WTO accession. I enjoy working at XA as it provides me with a highly stimulating environment.
XA HAS PROVIDED ME WITH ADDITIONAL TOOLS THROUGH IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY TO FURTHER DEVELOP TRADE REMEDY PROGRAMMES AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO TRAIN MORE PEOPLE TO WORK WITH TRADE POLICY MATTERS.
Being the most active consultancy firm of its kind in South Africa there is also huge scope for work on different products and in different countries, which satisfies my love for traveling.
I love the academic world and research, and have published many books, chapters and articles on trade law issues internationally. I love teaching as well, and am an extraordinary lecturer in mercantile law at Pretoria University, where I am also supervisor for several masters’ and doctoral students in international trade law.
Outside of the work environment I love athletics (having completed more than 100 marathons and ultra marathons), including having coached several athletes of all abilities; have swum the Vanuatu (South Pacific) 3.6km ultra, love photography and am an avid reader.