Alex Smith - CFO Altron: "Yes You Can"


CFO South Africa has interviewed a large number of CFOs and CEOs of leading South African companies. Meet Alex Smith, CFO of Altron, a large South African investment holding company. Altron currently staffs around 13.000 people, and has a turnover of R23 billion. Alex joined Altron in 2006 and appointed to the CFO role in August 2008. Scottish Alex was trained as a CA in Edinburgh, Scotland with Price Waterhouse, after having done a law degree at Edinburgh University. He came out to South Africa on a two year secondment in 1995 and “never looked back!” He worked for PwC in South Africa through to 2005, spending eight years in their transaction services department doing a wide range of financial due diligences, before moving to Altron at the beginning of 2006 as Group Financial Manager.

1) Which achievement or project in your business career so far are you most proud of?
When I was being appointed CFO of this company.

2) What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the variety of the job. No two days are the same and every day provides new challenges and new learnings.

3) Which skill do you think a young professional should master to be most successful in his career?

He or she should definitely have people skills. Since no matter what business you are in, you'll always be managing people.

4) Which education would you recommend for a successful career in business?

I don't believe there is one route to success and most businesses benefit from a management team with diverse educational backgrounds. It is also important to understand that the education process never ends!

5) What was the most interesting business book you have ever read?

"Screw it, let's do it" - Richard Branson

6) What strengths have other people commented on about you and your accomplishments, and what strengths do you see in yourself?

Attention to detail and getting things done.

7) What is your biggest lesson learnt?

To coin a phrase - "Yes You Can"

8) What is the ideal way to end a hectic day in the office?

Dinner with the family - normality!

9) Who is your role model in life and why?

I don't have a role model in particular, but I try to learn from everyone I work with.

10) What vital piece of personal advice would you give young executive professionals?

Surround yourself with good, positive people.

Stay connected, up to date and in the loop on what is happening in the world of finance by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on Twitter. Also to keep track of newly published interviews with CFOs and CEOs.

Category: Interviewing the CFO

Related articles

Aneshree Naidoo: CFO leading the way for many bright futures ahead

As South Africa celebrates youth month, it is important to honour the contributions and potential of young leaders. In the world of finance, Aneshree Naidoo, CFO at Webber Wentzel and recipient of the 2023 Young CFO of the Year award, has already made a significant impact in her CFO roles and the industry - from the age of 27.

CFO Isaac Malevu serves South Africa with pride and dedication

CFO Isaac Malevu successfully made the switch from the private to the public sector when joining the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) four years ago. His hard work in leading the corporation through crises was ultimately what earned him the 2023 Public Sector CFO of the Year Award.

6 Questions for 2023 CFO of the Year Raisibe Morathi

Vodacom Group CFO Raisibe Morathi shares her award-winning recipe for being an exemplary CFO after winning the 2023 CFO of the Year Award, revealing the “data” behind a good strategy, a good team and a good leader.