It’s time to bring back the spirit of ubuntu, CFO Dinner reveals

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Top CFOs discuss how they can bring back the positivity of South Africans by solving problems themselves.

On the evening of 26 October, positivity was in the summer air as some of South Africa’s top CFOs gathered around the dinner table at the Saxon in Johannesburg to enjoy a delectable four-star meal. The evening, which was hosted in partnership with Workday, prompted an existential question for all South Africans: Where has our spirit of Ubuntu gone?

“Our spirit of ubuntu has always been our most exportable quality,” they said. “But negativity is creeping into our conversations and we’re losing our spirit of positivity and sense of brotherhood.”

Guests agreed that the positive nature of South Africans have been dwindling over the last 10 years as it faces macro-economic, political, unemployment, poverty and power issues, which have only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the most recent threat of a terrorist attack on Sandton.

“The last three years have brought South Africans very close to their breaking point, and this recent terrorist warning is threatening to push the country over the edge,” one guest said.

“South Africans have always been known worldwide for their resilience, but we’re losing our momentum,” another CFO echoed. “The last few years have made people scared, and you can’t have a growth mindset if you’re afraid.”

The only way to change this negative narrative is to change the mindset of the country’s citizens, guests explained. “South Africans have this expectation that someone else will do it, but we can’t rely on the government or international investors to solve our problems anymore.”

They all agreed that it’s time for the private sector, and leaders like themselves, to step up and come together to encourage a new mindset of ownership. “We have to roll up our sleeves and do tangible things to provide new hope, even if it affects our bottom lines.”

The CFOs suggested that the change should start with partnerships and education. “It’s important to enter into partnerships with experts who are able to teach people the skills they need to solve their own problems on a sustainable basis.”

Those in attendance were:

  • Abigail Mukhuba, FD at Sanlam
  • Aneshree Naidoo, CFO at Webber Wentzel
  • Caylynne Fourie, managing editor at CFO South Africa
  • CJ Kujenga, group CFO and interim CEO at Ascendis Health
  • Deepa Sita, CFO at Tiger Brands
  • Georgina Guedes, executive community director at CFO South Africa
  • Kiv Moodley, country managing director at Workday South Africa
  • Leslie Marie, regional financial lead at Workday South Africa
  • Martin van der Walt, group CFO at Sibanye Gold
  • Risto Ketola, group FD at Momentum Metropolitan Holdings
  • Simon Adams, CFO at Nando’s
  • Siya Mnyanda, senior account executive of enterprise at Workday South Africa

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