Anoj Singh, Transnet: the appeal of the public sector for CAs

“If you want to be a great CFO, you need to be in a position where you can learn to manage a complex organisation,” says Anoj Singh, Group Chief Financial Officer at the dynamic State-Owned Company (SOC) Transnet and winner of two CFO Awards at the annual gala evening on 15 May 2014. In the run up to this year’s CFO of the Year gala, we are publishing a short version of the interview we had with Anoj for the first issue of the brand new CFO Magazine – which will be launched during the CFO conference and awards event on 14 May.

"First of all, and most people will tell you this, you need to enjoy what you are doing," says Singh when asked what advice he would give talented young finance professionals who see themselves as the leaders of the future. "Be excited by challenges and be the best you can be. To be a successful manager, there are personal attributes you need to have, but you also need an environment that allows you the space to develop."

Although government and SOC jobs don't have sexy or lucrative reputations, one of them could be exactly the right place to start as a freshly qualified CA, Singh suggests. "From an exposure perspective it doesn't get more complex than at a SOC or in the government. There is a reason entities like Transnet are state-owned. They do things that private parties don't have the risk tolerance for." At the same time, the number of interesting jobs is growing rapidly in the 'quasi-government' sphere. "Over the last couple of years we have grown a lot and we now have approximately 150 CAs within Transnet. Ten years ago that was less than 50."

Singh was the recipient of the 2014 Compliance & Governance Award and the Public Finance Award at the CFO South Africa organized event. He admits his surprise at being recognised for governance and compliance, since SOCs are often criticized for just that. "We were up against JSE-listed companies who have compliance top of mind. The perception associated with companies like ours is not one of prudent governance, but I think one of the things we have been able to demonstrate over the last years is that we have substance behind our concepts at Transnet. We have delivered on many fronts."

Like other top CFOs, Singh said he enjoyed the 2014 gala event, which highlighted the important role of finance leaders in the country. "I think it was fantastic event. The evening itself surpassed my expectation. Normally these gatherings are fairly drab. There was a good balance. The night was actually fun. The list of the participants was impressive and it was great for networking. I had not had the opportunity yet to meet the CFO of Eskom, for example. That resulted in a meeting afterwards. It really hit the mark and personally it was of course wonderful to be recognized."

  • The annual CFO Awards will be held at the beautiful Summer Place in Johannesburg on 14 May 2015. Speakers will include Mervyn King, Doyen of Corporate Governance, the immensely popular 'lifehacker' Martijn Aslander and awards chairman Vusi Thembekwayo. CFO South Africa invites you to buy a table at the CFO Awards, attend the CFO Conference and become our partner. For more information visit CFOAwards.co.za or email Jurrien Morsch at [email protected].
  • CFO Magazine will be launched during the awards event on 14 May. Subsequently, copies will distributed to the top finance leaders of South Africa. To enquire about inclusion or advertising opportunities in the next issue of the magazine please email Jurrien Morsch at [email protected].
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