CFO Samara Totaram plans to take a career break


Samara Totaram will be stepping down as Stadio group CFO at the end of the year.

Stadio Group has announced that Samara Totaram will be stepping down as CFO and executive director of the company at the end of December this year, as she plans to take a career break.

“Whilst the decision to step down and walk away from something I helped create has not been an easy one, nor one that is popular or widely understood in the arena we play in, it has been a critical part of my development,” Samara says.

She explains that she has reached a poitn of burnout and is unable to optimally function at a level that she is accustomed to. This has been brought on by a “really challenging and rewarding” seven years of establishing a significant higher education player in a listed environment.

Samara plans to “rest, reflect, reset, research and rebuild relationships” that she has neglected over the last few years during her break.

A rewarding seven years

Samara has been the group’s CFO for the past seven years, navigating it through various challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read more: How leaders navigated the Covid-19 pandemic with courage and commitment

“Like many companies, we have had to curtail or defer some of our capex projects,” Samara said in an earlier interview.

“I still relish the challenges that the Stadio experience has provided over the last few years, but I have reached a point where I understand that to really progress my career further, I need to pause and rest for a bit to gain clarity and to reenergise so that I can tackle the next part of my career with enthusiasm.”

Having spearheaded the acquisition of various higher education institutions that now make up the Stadio Group, Samara says she has enjoyed playing an instrumental role in establishing the company. “It has been thoroughly rewarding to direct the strategy of the business and formulate the necessary plans to ensure commercial success.”

She explains that this has strategically set up the company to achieve its purpose of widening access to education in South Africa. “Over the last seven years we have grown the student base from 840 students to 46,000 students.”

“I believe that we have created a great platform for the company to prosper and pursue its purpose of widening access to education. With a BHAG of targeting 100 000 students over time, STADIO is well positioned to play a meaningful role in the higher education space and more importantly in the South African economy. I really look forward to all that the company will achieve in years to come,” she adds.

Stadio is currently in the process of finding a replacement for Samara. She will, however, be available to help with the transition after leaving.

Her advice to her successor is this: “Always be true to Stadio’s purpose and remember that students are at the centre of all we do.”

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