Alexander Forbes CFO Deon Viljoen named CFO of the Year 2015


Deon Viljoen, Chief Financial Officer at South Africa’s largest retirement fund administrator Alexander Forbes, has been named South Africa’s CFO of the Year 2015. The award was presented on Thursday 14 May 2015 at the end of an inspirational conference and gala event at Summer Place in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. Brett Tromp (Discovery Health) was named Young CFO of the Year, while Anoj Singh (Transnet) retained his title as Public CFO of the Year.

The event was attended by 300 CFOs and prominent business leaders. During 6 master classes that took place prior to the award ceremony, they discussed topics including strategy execution, leadership, business opportunities in Africa and ways of coping with and benefiting from the fast pace of technological development in the world.

During the gala dinner South Africa's doyen of corporate governance, Mervyn King, held a keynote speech, last year's CFO of the Year Simon Ridley (Group FD Standard Bank) shared his thoughts about finance leadership in South Africa and the event was capably chaired by the dynamic entrepreneur Vusi Thembekwayo

Award winners 2015:

  • CFO of the Year - Deon Viljoen (Alexander Forbes)
  • Young CFO of the Year - Brett Tromp (Discovery Health)
  • Public CFO of the Year - Anoj Singh (Transnet)
  • Finance Transformation Award - Bongani Nqwababa (formerly with Anglo American Platinum, now Sasol)
  • Compliance & Governance Award - Cobus Grove (Digicore)
  • Strategy Execution Award - Anoj Singh (Transnet)
  • High Performance Team Award - Brett Tromp (Discovery Health)
  • Finance & Technology Award - Colin Brown (Super Group)
  • Transformation & Empowerment Award - Imraan Soomra (Oceana)
  • Moving into Africa Award - Greg Davis (Standard Bank Africa)

The annual CFO Awards are organised by CFO South Africa, an organisation that connects finance professionals online and off. By helping CFOs share knowledge, exchange interests and open up business opportunities through its exclusive events, magazines and online publications, CFO South Africa is proudly contributing to the growth of the country - and the continent. Services firm KPMG is this year's principal sponsor of CFO South Africa, with CEO Trevor Hoole presenting the night's major award to Viljoen.

Deon Viljoen joined Alexander Forbes Group Holdings in 2003 and was promoted to Group CFO in 2007. He was selected by the judges from a pool of 32 nominated Chief Financial Officers, all of whom were extensively interviewed as part of the award process. A full list of nominated CFOs can be found HERE. A first selection of the event's photos will also appear here soon.

CFO of the Year award winner Viljoen guided Alexander Forbes through a delisting and a relisting in a period of just 7 years, something a lot of CFOs might not experience in a lifetime. During the interview with the judges Viljoen said his recipe for success includes finding "sustainable solutions that accommodate all stakeholders". At some stage Alexander Forbes was looking at a listing or trade sale, executing a capital restructure and selling off a big business (Guardrisk) all at the same time. Viljoen says this was a tough period, but the brand and its reputation came out unscathed. "Our clients trust us and I feel that I contribute to that."

CFOs Brett Tromp (Discovery Health) and Anoj Singh (Transnet) were the other big winners during the night, each accepting two awards. Besides receiving the Public CFO of the Year Awards, which he also won last year, Singh was honoured with the much coveted Strategy Execution Award for his role at the successful parastatal and his ambitious, counter-cyclical capital build program.

The inspirational Brett Tromp is currently trying to convince government that companies should report on what he calls the 'fourth bottom line', a mix of measurable health metrics. Tromp, regular guest at CFO South Africa events, walked away with the Young CFO of the Year Award and the High Performance Team Award.

Sasol's new CFO Bongani Nqwababa received the Finance Transformation Award for his steadfast reign during difficult times at his previous employer, Anglo American Platinum. Last year's double award winner Colin Brown (Super Group) was also amongst the award winners again, securing the Finance & Technology Award - a prize befitting a CFO who believes finance leaders who don't know anything about IT are at risk

Imraan Soomra, CFO at Africa's largest fishing company Oceana, won the Transformation & Empowerment Award. The firm's employee empowerment trust has made a real difference in the lives of poor coastal communities. The Moving into Africa Award was won by the ambitious Greg Davis (Standard Bank Africa), while Mervyn King handed the Compliance & Governance Award to Cobus Grove, the 32-year old IFRS specialist and CFO who turned the struggling vehicle tracking company Digicore around, starting by restating 14 years of accounts.

The judges for the CFO Awards 2015 were extensively involved in interviewing the nominees; along with the full interview reports, they also received adossier on each nominated CFO. They then voted electronically, giving points to the 3 CFOs that they deemed most worthy of receiving an award in a particular category. The illustrious panel was made up of:

  • Victor Sekese (CEO of SizweNtsalubaGobodo)
  • Ben Marx (Vice-Chairperson Accountancy Department of Faculty of Economic and Financial Sciences of the University of Johannesburg)
  • Claudelle von Eck (CEO of The Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa)
  • Riad Gydien (Vice President - Africa, Middle East, Pakistan & Turkey of SAS)
  • Christo Els (Partner at Webber Wentzel)
  • David Fine (Managing Director of McKinsey South Africa)
  • Edward Kieswetter (Group Chief Executive of Alexander Forbes)
  • Mfundo Nkuhlu (COO of Nedbank)
  • Asher Bohbot (CEO of EOH)
  • Carel Smit (Executive Committee member at KPMG)
  • Delphine Maïdou (CEO of Allianz GCS Africa)
  • Jonathan Lang (Practice Partner and Head of Africa of Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group)
  • Rob Otty (Managing Director of Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa)

For the photos of the event please have a look here.

For more information, visit, contact us at + 27 11 0837515 or email Jurriën Morsch ([email protected]).

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