Leadership is not entitlement, stresses BDO SA CEO Bonga Mokoena


Making a difference in and having an enduring impact on people’s lives and broader society is CA Bonga Mokoena’s idea of being a good leader, and he tries to do this as the CEO of BDO South Africa.

Bonga Mokoena gets out of bed each day to make a difference because he believes this is his role as a leader. “To serve and to make a difference; to make an impact. That’s the essence of the person that I am, I’m driven by that higher purpose. And it drives my motivation to make a difference, to help people achieve their dreams.”

Bonga joined BDO South Africa as CEO in May 2022. Even though he, in collaboration with the partners and executive committee, has the task of driving the firm and its people to success, he also participates and contributes through various other business and professional organisations such as the board of Business Leadership SA, IRBA, membership of ABASA, IODSA and the BMF.

He is passionate about his role at BDO because he sees the firm playing a critical role in the South African business and societal ecosystem to bolster the economy, create business opportunities and, as a result, benefit more South Africans. He is also targeting an environment that is free of corruption through leading by example. “We are all working towards making sure that we address the challenges head-on, and we create a climate that is really conducive for business and economic growth.”

Bonga’s career spans senior executive and leadership roles at AlexForbes and he spent his early career at Nedcor Bank, Metrorail, and Transnet, before moving on to Old Mutual as the industry leader of its corporate division in 2005. He then joined the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund as its chief executive and principal officer for two years up to 2009.

Despite his impressive career trajectory, Bonga is humble.

“It’s not my name that defines me. What really drives me as a person is my belief that it is a privilege and honour to serve. Leadership is not entitlement.”

He takes his role in any given environment seriously, adding: “I always want to show up in how I interact with the team, so we have a common purpose and a common objective through a common vision. I believe each and every team member, including myself, has to show up in the best possible way.”

In line with his humble nature, Bonga considers his achievements to be making an impact in terms of what is expected from him. “It is more about the journey one has travelled and contributions made along the way,” he says. “If you make a difference in smaller things and they make a difference to one or more people or to an environment, that’s an achievement.”

Years ago, just after he finished articles, he was part of a team that turned a loss-making entity into a profitable one, which was gratifying as that unit then received the attention it deserved.

His passion for making a difference and being a leader is evident in Bonga’s experience and achievements. “I’m very stakeholder-management oriented. You cannot successfully lead an organisation if you don’t understand the dynamics around stakeholders and balance all their interests.”

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