Nelisiwe Shiluvana takes baton from mentor Deon Fredericks

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Nelisiwe Shiluvana has been appointed as the new group FD of Famous Brands.

Nelisiwe Shiluvana will step into the role of group FD at Famous Brands on 1 August, taking over from retiring Deon Fredericks. This achievement has been in the making for the past 10 years, however, she explains.

Nelisiwe joined Famous Brands in October 2021 as group finance executive, Deon’s second-in-command.

Prior to that, she was a partner at EY for six years, during which she led the Africa financial accounting advisory business. She also served as an associate director at the firm for a year, and as senior manager the year prior. For eight years before that, she worked as a manager and senior manager at Telkom, respectively.

She explains that she is humbled to have this opportunity that will allow her to continue on her journey to grow.

Aiming for greater heights

Deon, who has been her mentor throughout those 10 years, believes she is an “excellent choice and the right candidate” to take over from him. “She has been a critical part of the team that has reshaped finance, especially the reporting side, in the last 18 months.”

He explains that she has the depth of knowledge and experience in finance that will see her continue reshaping the group finance function so it becomes more streamlined, focused and resilient.

Nelisiwe says she is excited to help ensure that the finance function adapts to the ongoing changes and challenges in an ever-evolving operating environment. “Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the restaurant sector has seen a shift in customer behaviour, with emphasis on convenience and value for money. It is vital that finance provides business with insights, backed by data, on how to execute this strategy in an agile economy.”

She adds that there is potential to take finance on a journey of growth, where it can explore new ways of working in order to be that strategic partner to the business. “Deon set a solid foundation for the finance function, and with my previous experience in the telecoms and consulting industries, I will bring some of the lessons I’ve learned there to take the journey forward.”

“I’ve always told him that I aspire to be the group FD of a listed company one day – that I would like to do what he does,” Nelisiwe shares.

“Deon continues to be my mentor, and his graciously handing over the role to me is a realisation of the support and hard work he has put into my growth.”

Learning from a leader

Nelisiwe explains that one of the most important things she has learned from Deon is that it’s OK to admit when you don’t know something. “He is never shy to say. ‘I don’t have an answer right now, let me get back to you.’ I find this earns respect from colleagues and board members, because while you are the expert in your field as group FD, there’s always room to consult and provide informed responses.”

Her second biggest takeaway from Deon is that while it’s important you are dedicated to your work, it should never be at the cost of your family and wellbeing. “Every part of my being needs attention and care, otherwise I will not be a holistic human,” she says.

To focus on self-care, Nelisiwe has recently taken up road running, however she still shies away from long-distance trails. “I am an adrenaline junkie, so I love taking to the skies and going micro-light flying or sky-diving.”

To make sure she stays in touch with her family, they enjoy visiting nature parks. “Spending time on animal sightings in the bush is our happy place. I can forget about IFRS and internal controls there,” she laughs.

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