CFO Mpho Thomas’s passion for learning and the rich career that came from it

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The CTSE CFO first got an opportunity to learn through SAICA, and has kept on learning throughout his career.

Mpho Thomas has always enjoyed finance. Even as a teenager, he picked commercial subjects to study at school, such as economics, business studies, and accounting. His passion was further ignited when the Thuthuka Bursary Fund visited his school in matric. “The offer of a full bursary made studying accounting a no-brainer for me. I am forever grateful to SAICA, which provides the bursary, for the support and faith they had in me.”

Family help was vital in Mpho’s success. He says the support and love received from his mother and grandmother growing up was vital in getting him to where he is today. Mpho says they sacrificed to make certain he could attend “one of the best high schools in Mahikeng”, Batswana High School.

In terms of further education, Mpho went to the University of Pretoria, which gave him a “comprehensive and robust education,” forming the basis of where he is today. This was augmented through “dynamic” training provided through the CA(SA) programme at MTN.

“The MTN programme allows trainees the freedom to find their areas of excellence without compromising the key core competencies required for one to graduate as a world class CAS(SA),” he notes.

Career highlights
At MTN, Mpho has several highlights, including his secondment to SmartVillage (now MTN Supersonic) in 2017. After SmartVillage was bought out, the then acting CFO asked him to compile a post-acquisition analysis of the company, develop a new business plan and align it with MTN’s processes and the fibre strategy.

Following that, Mpho moved to MTN Global Connect in Dubai for five months to help incorporate the company and position it to execute MTN’s international interconnect and intercontinental undersea cable strategy.

“Coming back from Dubai, I was seconded to a team within MTN SA that was tasked with forming a new division to formulate MTN SA’s fintech strategy and launch its South African flagship product – Mobile Money.” When Mpho left MTN in January 2022, he was manager of its financial services operations.

He explains that, despite working for Africa’s largest cellular company, his time was spent within the start-up environment, which prepared him for his role at The Cape Town Stock Exchange (CTSE). “I am grateful to the CTSE CEO, senior management and the board for firstly recognising and backing young talent and ensuring that they continuously support me to excel in my role as CFO.”

At CTSE, he is responsible for overseeing the company's financial operations (AR, AP, treasury and cash management among others), providing commercial insights to the company's strategy and business plans, assisting in identifying and assessing initiatives that are accretive to shareholder value as well as acting as a finance business partner to all divisional heads.

His favourite part of the job is strategy, business planning and analysis. “It is always fulfilling to see the strategy and business plan that the team crafted and adopted at the start of the financial year manifesting itself during the financial year, both from a numbers and initiatives perspective.”

Lessons learnt
Throughout his young career, Mpho has made a point of learning. “I make sure I take each and every lesson into any situation and scenario that I face as a person and a professional.”

Two key lessons are:

  1. Always maintain the highest level of curiosity and willingness to learn and unlearn.
  2. Building relationships and genuinely connecting with people is key.

Mpho has found the financial services industry and, specifically, the market infrastructure space, to be complex as the listed market space is in its development stage following the introduction of new exchanges in recent years.

The JSE, as it is now known, is South Africa’s oldest exchange, having been birthed in 1887. However, recent years have seen the entry of many new markets upon which companies can list securities and raise funds. Among these is CTSE, while three new contenders, ZAR X, 4 Africa Exchange (4AX) and A2X Markets, have been granted exchange licences by the South African Financial Services Board

Mpho says he sees this competition as an opportunity to learn and contribute to the growth of the industry. “This learning journey has been made easy by the fact that, at CTSE, I am surrounded by a team of financial services experts and absolute professionals. I cherish every minute I spend with them, and I also hope to impart my learnings to other and new people as the CTSE team grows.”

After hours, Mpho enjoys spending time with family and friends, as they are still the core of his support system. “I also own a small-scale farm in Mahikeng, I keep Bonsmara cows, goats and meat-master sheep. On my off-days I like spending time at the farm, for lack of a better word ‘bonding’ with my livestock.”

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