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Your source for the latest news, expert insights and interviews.

26 August 2016

Finance Indaba 2016: ManageIt has your procurement processes covered

“We can help professionals by centralising procurement, simplifying ordering, improving efficiency, reducing costs and securing pricing, sourcing and qualifying new suppliers with ease and managing BEE, contract and all other documents online,” says Brett Cunnington, marketing director of ManageIt, a silver partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

23 August 2016

Nombali Mbambo new CFO of Adapt IT

Nombali Mbambo has been appointed as an executive director and CFO of Adapt IT, effective 18 August 2016. Mbambo, a CA, completed her articles at Ernst & Young prior to joining Alexander Forbes as an accounting specialist. Thereafter, she joined the debt capital market team at ABSA Capital, later moving to the loan capital market team. Here she was responsible for originating, structuring and executing corporate loan facilities. From 2013 until she joined Adapt IT in March 2016 as CFO elect, Mbambo held the role of Finance Business Partner involved in strategic decision-making and financial management at Unilever. In her new role at Adapt IT, Mbambo’s responsibilities will include contributing to the strategic direction of Adapt IT, being accountable for the group’s finance function, involvement in mergers and acquisitions, funding and capital structuring and investor relations.

23 August 2016

Focus on value: an interview with IBM South Africa's new CFO Sandra Atkins-Sadler

“We have to shift the lens through which CFOs look at finance transformation and make it effective by focusing on value,” says Sandra Atkins-Sadler, who joined IBM South Africa as CFO earlier this year. “I think IBM can make a difference by continuing to invest in skills training and development of future CFOs. At the same time our business solutions will make a difference to the bottom line of current CFOs.”

22 August 2016

Data governance in times of POPI and cyber crime - Yolanda Smit, PBT Group

An increase in cyber attacks targeting businesses and legislative requirements like the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) have brought attention to the need for effective data governance, says Yolanda Smit, Strategic Business Intelligence Manager at PBT Group. At its heart, data governance focuses on driving enterprise data management practices to the next level of maturity, where data is being managed intentionally and not just as an afterthought. Data security and privacy management, data architecture management, data quality management, records management, business intelligence, and data operations management are all vital elements in this new discipline of management.

20 August 2016

New deal means possible black-controlled franchise stores for Kauai

In the hopes of introducing black-controlled franchise stores, Kleoss Capital Fund 1, a 100-percent-black-owned South African PE investment manager managed by Kleoss Capital, has acquired a minority stake in Real Foods, which owns the KAUAI, NÜ Health Café and Kohu brands. Hale Matsipa, Kleoss Capital CEO, has said that the company is excited about BEE transformation within Real Foods and believes there is potential to introduce black-controlled franchise stores within Kauai. Matsipa was quoted by Fin 24 as saying:

19 August 2016

Kumba Iron Ore comes out tops in EY's Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards 2016

EY has announced Kumba Iron Ore Ltd as the overall winner in its fifth annual Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards for 2016. The scope of the awards included the top 100 JSE-listed companies based on market capitalisation at 31 December 2015, and top state-owned entities, which were adjudicated by the College of Accounting at the University of Cape Town. Larissa Clark (pictured), Director Professional Practice Group of Accounting at EY, said:

16 August 2016

Samantha Louis newly appointed CIMA Director of Advocacy, London

After 17 years with CIMA in Africa, Samantha Louis (pictured) has taken up a post as the CIMA Director of Advocacy, based at the CIMA headquarters in London, effective 1 August. Louis will play an active role in CIMA as the primary spokesperson and internationally recognised authority for the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) and advancing the Global Management Accounting Principles (GMAPs). She will also be responsible for driving the adoption of the soon-to-be-released GMAPs self-assessment tool for business, which will leverage the world's first standard for management accounting (PAS 1919). Louis said of her move:

16 August 2016

Mentoring is an enabling activity, says Deloitte Consulting CFO Aneshree Naidoo

"Make it count. Everything I do should be positively impactful. I feel there should be a theme of constant improvement, whether that's for yourself, the business or the people around you," says Aneshree Naidoo, CFO at Deloitte Consulting. Aneshree believes strongly in the power of mentoring and peer-to-peer learning and encourages aspiring and seasoned professionals to snatch up every chance they get to grow their knowledge base and skills. "I've rolled out mentoring programmes in organisations I’ve been a part of. These programmes were initially afforded to women as part of specific diversity initiatives and then to all interested. I believe in inclusive mentoring." How did you come to pursue a career in the finance industry? "It's a simple story. I enjoyed Science and Maths at school. My career choice initially was to pursue chemical engineering. One holiday I had the opportunity to do vacation work at a well-known plant. On site, I didn't take to the daily wear of heavy boots, jumpsuits and goggles. I then tried vacation work at Ernst Young. I enjoyed it thoroughly – the client interaction, how numbers told a story. I learnt that I could use numbers to make really big, bold decisions – and I took to the corporate, professional attire. My passion for Accounting and Maths came together and I decided to become a chartered accountant." Who were or are your mentors? "I've had mentors within the group of companies I've worked for but not directly in the company I was employed at. At Avanade, I was fortunate to have a professional coach and mentor based in the UK. It is enabling to have a mentor. As you grow into various roles, you need somebody to playback ideas or challenges. I extracted value from mentoring experiences where my mentor was in a different role, industry or even company from me as the experience supplemented my skills." How important is it for leaders in the finance industry to meet peers? "It's essential. Personal interactions are energising, especially when you hear peers experiencing similar challenges to you. It's encouraging to learn of solutions that are working for others and even discover opportunities to partner in business. We’re getting better at connecting more in SA." What are your career goals? "My career goal centres on creating leadership capacity within our country. I'm driven by purposeful roles and I’m now more about supporting education, training and/or mentoring initiatives in our country rather than progressing the ‘corporate ladder’ or being defined by a job title. I am passionate about education, positively influencing it at a very early stage in a deep and significant way, enabling more South Africans to be brand ambassadors for our country and lifting SA’s global contributions." What do you most enjoy about working in finance? "I love the picture or story that gets created through numbers and that I have the ability to influence and create that story. I love that diverse people, complex processes, relationships and overall many moving parts come together in the form of financial results. I enjoy connecting these various moving parts to tell the financial story and propose and steer financial and operational excellence." What do you most enjoy about the CFO role? What do you dislike about it? "I enjoy the challenge of growing companies, especially in our current economic climate which presents new learning and evolving opportunities for business. I enjoy understanding business levers and driving change to improve business performance. There’s a new problem to solve every day. What I dislike most is when custodians of business allow self-interest to override sound business decisions. I have a fiduciary responsibility and a bigger purpose, so I challenge those behaviours." You joined Deloitte Consulting in March. What has it been like so far? "It's been going well. There are immediate operational finance topics I am steering across Africa and with the broader firm and I’ve gone through our budget and year-end process already. I’m learning about the broad array of professional services offered by Deloitte Consulting, not to mention the exciting M&A activities. I’m also the Lead Committee sponsor for Deloitte Women in Leadership Consulting, which is progressive." Prior to this you were at T-Systems South Africa. What did you achieve while there? "T-Systems is a large technology company. My notable achievements were bringing about marked efficiencies and increased effectiveness of the finance team. I strengthened team skills through hiring qualified professionals and introduced strong commercial themes of finance enabling business growth. Through innovative deal shaping and pricing, pro-active support for our internal and external customers and introducing a theme of ‘Finance gets Loud’, I brought about a cultural team change for the better. I am proud of the strong 2015 results posted, which included milestone profitability achievements. I also drove the M&A strategy. It was an exciting journey to unlock new revenue streams with different partners in the market." You are young and yet you've enjoyed great success in your career thus far. How does this make you feel, and what has been key to your success? "I'm proud, I'm excited and I’m mostly humbled. Success is not finite to me; it's continuous and evolving. I’m always energised to explore the next level. I constantly try to displace myself so I create space for new leadership capacity."

15 August 2016

dti: economic empowerment not just about wealth redistribution

The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Commission, an entity of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), will tomorrow be rolling out an awareness campaign on the B-BBEE Amendment Act of 2013, spreading this message: B-BBEE should aim to achieve growth, development and enterprise development and not only the redistribution of existing wealth. The B-BBEE Amendment Act was enacted to create the B-BBEE Commission to oversee and monitor the implementation of the act, as well as to deal with the contravention thereof, and investigate fronting practices. The information sessions, which will be held at the Daveyton Community Hall in Gauteng, are intended to raise awareness and educate communities on B-BBEE and its benefits. According to Busisiwe Ngwenya, the director responsible for compliance at the B-BBEE Commission, the rationale behind the campaign is to focus on creating an economy that can meet the needs of all economic citizens and their enterprises in a sustainable manner. Ngwenya said in a statement:

09 August 2016

Integrity is everything for a CFO, says Rendani Sadiki, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform CFO

“You have to be mindful of operating within the law at all times as a CFO in the public sector, because it’s your career on the line,” says Rendani Sadiki, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform CFO. “Colleagues may make requests that are outside the ambit of the law, but you have to explore the prescripts before you respond. You mustn’t just say no; you must bring a solution. That person might not be intentionally trying to break the law, they might just not be acquainted with those prescripts. So I rather try to advise them of their options.” The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is mandated to create and maintain equitable land dispensation and acts as a catalyst in rural development to ensure sustainable rural livelihoods, which it does through various programmes and initiatives. Rendani oversees strategic financial management within the Department – a mandate she says is quite broad. “As the financial strategist, I have to develop and implement financial strategies to manage limited resources at our disposal so that the department is able to deliver the services efficiently and effectively, and within budget.” She also oversees the governance of the Department.

08 August 2016

Kinfundi: Helping employees educate their families

Business is about people. Of course it’s about profit, processes, technology, and many other things too, but ultimately it’s about people. The end buyers in all value chains are people, and the energy that drives a business is people: employees, management, owners, stakeholders. These people have needs as well as worries. A big matter on the minds of many is their family, and within this, concerns about education. An innovation turn-key, tax-friendly employee benefit product, Kinfundi, hopes to change this.

03 August 2016

Wipro Partners and IDC give rural school learners access to technology

Leading global IT, consulting and business process services company Wipro has launched a three-year CSI project in partnership with South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to set up 29 computer labs across South Africa, benefiting 28,000 students from rural areas. Gavin Holme, Business Head, Wipro Africa, said the company is committed to building a sustainable economy in South Africa, and that Wipro will be providing a broad range of hardware, software, connectivity, education and programme management resources.

03 August 2016

Finance Indaba 2016: Operational excellence is Bytes Technology Group's game

“We focus on middle- and back-office operations and it’s all about wringing efficiencies out of these operations – automating as much as possible, saving on staff costs, reducing breaks due to reconciliation problems, etc," says Mark Neethling, the GM of Financial Services at Bytes Technology Group, a gold partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

02 August 2016

Balancing personalities is key to a strong team, says Graham McGregor, New GX Capital Holdings CFO

“The most unsettling thing for anyone is uncertainty,” says Graham McGregor, CFO of New GX Capital Holdings, a BEE investment holding company with interests in the environmental solutions, logistics, power and telecoms, and corporate finance advisory sectors. Sharing his experience, while in his previous position, of a merger that happened between two very different businesses under one umbrella company McGregor says keeping staff abreast of what was happening at all times was crucial: “Because if there’s a communication gap, people fill in the gap themselves.” He also learnt an important lesson:

30 July 2016

Beancounter CEO Marnus Broodryk a "Shark` on M-Net's new show

Marnus Broodryk (pictured), CEO of The Beancounter, an accounting firm currently disrupting SA’s finance industry with its innovative approach, has agreed to dig deep into his own pockets in order to give away big money on M-Net’s brand new reality show, Shark Tank South Africa, for which he has been chosen as a “Shark”. Based on the Emmy-award-winning US series, Shark Tank invites entrepreneurs with potentially lucrative products or business ideas to pitch their plans to the "Sharks” for consideration. If they like the idea, they may offer the entrepreneur a deal. Broodryk said:

29 July 2016

Seyi Bickersteth, National Senior Partner KPMG Nigeria, on Africa's potential to be great

“We [Africa] need to market ourselves more. We have a continent with lots of opportunities for people, we have a young and vibrant population and a growing middle class. We need to let people know that we are open for business and that we are very investor friendly,” says Seyi Bickersteth, National Senior Partner KPMG Nigeria & Chairman KPMG Africa Practice. Seyi has enjoyed a long and illustrious career – one that spans 40 years, in fact – and is no stranger to change. Currently, he oversees KPMG’s business in Africa, and calls his most important responsibilities developing people, outlining the vision for KPMG, and setting the strategy for how the firm will move forward. “Our clients are increasingly telling us they want to succeed in Africa but in order to do that they need a firm that can provide a single point of contact to meet all of their expectations in the region. This guides our strategy.”

28 July 2016

4 reasons for July's unchanged interest rate - KPMG's Maura Feddersen

In line with market expectations, the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) announced earlier this month that it would leave the leading policy rate unchanged at 7%, keeping the prime lending rate at 10.5%. Maura Feddersen (pictured), Senior Economic Advisor with KPMG Economics, Financial Risk Management, has identified four reasons why the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) kept interest rates unchanged.

28 July 2016

Tell better stories & be a better leader: Peter Christie at public sector CFO event

"One of the challenges for corporate leaders is that often, they are not good communicators, or are not very effective communicators. They largely communicate via email, company newsletters or noticeboards, and PowerPoint presentations. To get the key message through you’ve got to be more creative than that and become a better storyteller,” says consultant and academic, Peter Christie, better known as Big Chief Talking Bull.

27 July 2016

Finance Indaba 2016: Zetta Business Solutions make a CFO's life easier

"We can help finance professionals to improve their ability to better utilise their time, by automating and simplifying remedial processes like data collection, allowing them to spend more time on analysis," says Anna Puzone, the head of enterprise performance management at information management company Zetta Business Solutions, a gold partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

26 July 2016

Essential learning as CFO Colin Brown shares how critical treasury is to Super Group

Through some incredible tech-enabled financial discipline, CFO Colin Brown helped saving Super Group from the abyss, setting the South African flagship firm on course again for massive expansion. Since then successes have been commonplace, with Colin (pictured with Discovery's Terrence Taylor) winning no less than three CFO Awards and the group regularly reporting spectacular growth. On 21 July 2016, at the CFO event on M&A, Colin provided some candid insight and valuable tips during a round table discussion with a select group of CFOs.

25 July 2016

Lightning-fast reflexes: the agile team

While many other teams in a business have some flexibility as far as deliverables, reporting and project timelines go, this is a luxury not often enjoyed by the finance team. But as the pace of doing business is so much faster today, is it not time the finance function became more agile too? We spoke to experienced CFOs and other industry experts to get their insight. By Toni Muir "Being agile requires openness, the reservation of judgement and the ability to turn on a dime," says Terrence Taylor, general manager: Talent, Analytics, Leadership and Learning at Discovery. You need people with a cosmopolitan outlook, an open mindset and an eclectic set of experiences, he adds, and a leader who is comfortable sharing leadership and power. But what exactly is an agile team, and what makes it so? Moreover, why is this important to the finance function?

22 July 2016

What CFOs can do to ensure a successful M&A transaction

“The first week after we were acquired, I went to sit with management and tried to get an understanding of why they had bought us and what they had promised their shareholders. I then took that, came back home and developed a strategy to give them what they wanted to see,” said Cobus Grove, CEO Digicore Holdings, speaking as a member of the panel at last night’s CFO South Africa event, Where the rubber meets the road, the second in a two-part series on M&A. The evening’s discussion covered the CFO’s role post-deal, including how CFOs meet the multitude of market, investor and board expectations, as well as how to best integrate systems processes and cultures. Cobus was joined by Deon Fredericks, CFO Telkom; Charl Keyter, CFO Sibanye Gold; Ryan McDougall, Group FD Trustco; and Walter Palk, Partner at KPMG.

21 July 2016

Finance Indaba 2016: Monash South Africa produces industry-ready graduates

"We understand that the current financial landscape requires innovation, creativity and the need to understand and address a great variety of complex issues, and have therefore aligned our programmes to prepare students as effectively as possible for the business and economics sphere," says Professor Humphrey Gowar from Monash South Africa (MSA), a platinum partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

19 July 2016

Successful CFOs must be able to self-reflect, says Lewis Kangausaru, CFO of Groeneveld South Africa

"To lead you need to know yourself and why you’re doing things,” opines Groeneveld South Africa CFO, Lewis Kangausaru. Lewis has been a part of the Groeneveld team since October 2013, and is responsible for the full financial governance of the company. He says reflectiveness is a core of the leadership principle: “To be forward-thinking you need to be reflective, to take time to think about what has occurred in a given space of time, the decisions you’ve made, why you’ve made them and the current outcomes.”

18 July 2016

Insider threats: 10 questions CFOs need to ask - by J2's John Mc Loughlin

CFOs need to actively manage IT risk, says John Mc Loughlin, Managing Director of software company J2: “It is vital that the CFO take an active role in managing this risk – as it appears IT may not have the executive drive to get it done themselves.” In this article, John shares some of the top questions CFOs must ask themselves when dealing with risk management and threats, and before declaring their IT policy as sound.

15 July 2016

Brexit affects availability of finance jobs in SA

According to the latest Robert Walters South Africa Job Index, the last quarter saw a 6% overall decrease in job advertising volumes compared to Q2 2015 in SA across all finance functions; with a 15% annual decline in job advertisements in accounting and finance overall. Robert Walters, a leading specialist professional recruitment consultancy, attributes this decline to the compounding effects of consistent political uncertainty, a British and European economy which has been paralysed by Brexit, and challenging currency exchange rates for South African importers.

15 July 2016

Clarkhouse Human Capital's Roy Clark talks diversity and transformation

Roy Clark, MD of Clarkhouse Human Capital, recently moderated a thought leadership session where 20 CFOs were invited to discuss the role of transformation and diversity in the workplace, and what the role of a CFO is in fostering this. In this self-penned piece, Clark delves into why transformation and diversity are such misunderstood notions, and looks at how corporate South Africa can make these ideas work within their organisations.

14 July 2016

Finance Indaba 2016: INCE goes from printer to ground-breaker

"We offer clients an integrated, full-service offering for all their marketing needs – a real one-stop solution which delivers benefits in terms of value, consistency, confidentiality and sheer ease of doing business,” says Alban Atkinson, MD of integrated corporate communications agency INCE, a PLATINUM partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

13 July 2016

Are you future ready? Great insights at CFO breakfast in Cape Town

To be ready for the future, CFOs need to embrace imagination, make bold choices and be intimately connected to customers and employees. Those were some of the main takeaways at a lively CFO breakfast debate in Cape Town's Westin Hotel on Tuesday 12 July 2016. Preceded by a thought-provoking and often humorous presentation by futurist Morne Mostert, the high-level intimate gathering of about 35 people was treated to insights by Woolworths CFO Reeza Isaacs (3rd photo) and retired Remgro CFO Leon Crouse (bottom photo), who played a pivotal role in the success story of Vodacom.

11 July 2016

Peter Christie on the power of storytelling for effective leaders

As a youngster, Peter Christie was enormously fond of Western movies, particularly those which featured North American Indians giving cowboys what he calls “a good klapping”. One movie in particular made a big impression on the youngster: The Great Sioux Massacre, where, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, shaman Big Chief Sitting Bull led the defeat of General Custer and other troops of the US Army. Peter can still recall a gift he received from his parents at this time: a colourful North American Indian costume that included feathered headdress, leather-tasselled vest, moccasins and tomahawk. Needless to say it immediately became a firm favourite of the energetic six-year-old who, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, answered without hesitation, “Big Chief Sitting Bull”. Peter being quite the chatterbox, his dad adapted this to “Big Chief Talking Bull”, and the name stuck. Peter has always had a liking for stories – reading them, telling them, watching them, and writing them. As an adult, he turned this talent into a career, establishing a successful consultancy that teaches business people how to unlock their storytelling potential in order to become better, more influential leaders.

08 July 2016

How to become the world's most inspiring accountant: a chat to Coenie Middel

"We have always believed passionately in the role accountants play in creating a better world by helping to make businesses more successful, creating jobs and generating wealth," says Coenraad 'Coenie' Middel, whose firm Middel & Partners has been named as one of the most inspiring accountancy practices in the world and has been included in the recently published ‘The World’s Most Inspiring Accountants’ by author Steve Pipe.

07 July 2016

Meet Simon Ridley (Standard Bank), recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the CFO Awards 2016

CFO South Africa chose to honour Simon Ridley (pictured), recently retired FD of Standard Bank and CFO of the Year 2014, as well as esteemed member of this year’s judging panel, by presenting him with a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s CFO Awards. Unfortunately, Simon was unable to accept the award in person and spend the evening celebrating with his peers, as he was touring Namibia on a motorbike at the time of the event. Simon’s colleague, Luvuyo Masinda, CFO Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), accepted the award on his behalf. Masinda said:

06 July 2016

Finance Indaba 2016: SAIPA looks to transform accounting

"We will ensure that attendees leave with a more nuanced understanding of SAIPA so that they can become our partner in our goal of growing and transforming the accounting profession," says Zobuzwe Ngobese, marketing and communications executive at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), a gold partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

05 July 2016

DigiCore CFO Cobus Grove: The Good, the Bid & the Ugly

Most CFOs dream of saving a company with sheer accounting brilliance, fantasise about lining shareholders’ pockets through a spectacular M&A deal, and secretly yearn for fame. Cobus Grove achieved all that before he turned 34 years old. In a series of interviews with CFO South Africa, Cobus shares how he saved JSE-listed company DigiCore and sold it to US firm Novatel Wireless. He talks about his compulsion to keep succeeding and gives candid insight into the personal toll of managing such high-stake corporate manoeuvres.

04 July 2016

What #Brexit means for SA businesses - KPMG Chief Economist Lullu Krugel

South African export businesses in the machinery, vehicle manufacturing and platinum industries could be heavily impacted by the British withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit). So writes Lullu Krugel*, Chief Economist at KPMG South Africa, in an exclusive analysis for CFO.co.za. South African businesses also might have to consider moving their European offices from London to elsewhere in Europe to keep access to the EU Single Market. Ireland anyone?

30 June 2016

Incredible lineup at CFO M&A event 21 July: post-deal integration

The ink is dry. The deal is done. You have just successfully completed an M&A transaction. The question is: what now? At our CFO event on 21 July 2016 at the African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel we will unpack how to go about integration or separation after a deal under the theme ‘Where the rubber meets the road’. An incredible lineup of top five CFOs will help us unpack what needs to happen after a merger, acquisition or sale.

30 June 2016

Meet Leon Crouse (Remgro), recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the CFO Awards 2016

“I was not prepared to make a speech but thank you for the kind words and thank you for the award. I retired [from Remgro] at the end of March so it’s also for me a cherry on the cake at the end of my career,” said Leon Crouse, on receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the CFO Awards 2016, held on 12 May at the beautiful Summer Place. Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, chancellor of the University of Pretoria, South Africa’s first black chartered accountant and role model for many finance professionals, presented Leon with his award.

28 June 2016

Fear and uncertainty after #Brexit - Peregrine Group CFO Robert Katz

The British withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) would very possibly have an effect on South African businesses, although some industries will be harder hit than others – and some might see opportunities. “Personally I don’t think Brexit is a good thing,” says Robert Katz, CFO of wealth and asset management firm Peregrine Group. “South Africa is a risk-on economy. That means that when there are global jitters, South African stocks get sold off and the rand comes under pressure.”

28 June 2016

A humble CFO is a successful CFO, says Lauren Van Zyl, Divisional CFO of Eqstra Fleet Management and Logistics

“For me, being a successful CFO is not even technical; it’s about being humble. The role can go to your head and that creates drama,” says Lauren Van Zyl, Divisional CFO of Eqstra Fleet Management and Logistics. “Being humble makes you approachable, and the more approachable you are the more likely staff will be to come to you if there’s a problem, and that’s important.” Lauren, who pursued a career in finance after convincing herself she would never be interested in the industry, heads up a team of 45 staff members, and says the people aspect of the job is as rewarding as it is challenging. “That’s what nobody prepares you for. As a finance person, you’re very comfortable with the numbers, with the technical, but you aren’t comfortable with having so many people report to you, trust you and rely on you.” How did you first get into finance and how did you come to be a CFO? “At school, one of my main subjects was speech and drama. I was convinced I was never going to go into finance. When choosing my studies, I first registered for industrial psychology, but I didn’t even make it through one lecture and realised that wasn’t going to work. I changed my degree and went into Informatics. I was doing really well but realised I didn’t have a passion for it – it didn’t gel with me. I found my way to finance and thought I’d pursue general finance, believing there was no chance I’d do a CA. But at that moment I realised I would be stopping just before the finish line, so I decided to go the whole hog and completed my B.Com (Accounting) Honours, and then my articles through Deloitte. After my articles I stayed on for a short period, but I decided I wasn’t audit manager material. I was battling with the concept of siting across the table from a CFO and telling him how to run his business when I didn’t know what it was like to be in his position. I wanted to be able to give a CFO advice based on my own experiences. I felt like I needed that foundation.”

27 June 2016

Creativity needed for big data to drive revenue, says risk actuary Stefan Swanepoel

“Taking advantage of opportunities requires more creative thinking than simple analysis of data,” says risk actuary Stefan Swanepoel, the principal consultant for Directrix Risk Services, an actuarial and corporate risk management consultancy specialising in the pricing, financing and control of risks. Swanepoel has more than 13 years of experience in this field and currently consults to many of the largest South African companies, as well as many large international corporates. A fellow of the Institute of Risk Management and the Actuarial Society of South Africa, Swanepoel followed his father, a state actuary, into the profession after serving time in the military. He spoke to us about the impact of Big Data, risk management, the changing climate in South Africa and how it compares to foreign nations.

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