SAMRO’s new CFO Leanne Thomas a testament to women’s empowerment


Leanne Thomas unpacks how she is furthering the equality agenda as SAMRO’s new CFO.

The Southern Music Right Organisation (SAMRO) has appointed Leanne Thomas as its new CFO. She has been serving as the acting CFO of the since the departure of John Scullion, whose contract ended in April.

“I am excited to take on this role, but I do not take it lightly as it is a huge responsibility. However, I have been given a seat at the table, a voice and a platform, and I intend to use these to make a positive impact,” Leanne says.

An all-women exco

John’s exit and Leanne’s appointment mean that the non-profit’s executive committee now consists entirely of women, emphasising the organisation’s strong focus on women empowerment.

“I don’t think that we have progressed nearly far enough in terms of gender equality in South Africa,” Leanne says. “I am proud to be part of an organisation in which active steps are being taken to empower women.”

She explains that, apart from being spoken about during Women’s Month, when it comes to women’s equality, little action is still being taken. But the change starts with leaders like Leanne, whose team primarily consists of women.

She makes an effort to be the leader she needed earlier on in her career. “ It is crucial to provide support and to build confidence. Just like me, some of the women in my team started in junior roles and have now progressed into leadership positions. I encourage them to pursue their goals and want to see them succeed in their careers.”

Having grown up with strong female role models who have always been her inspiration, it’s important for Leanne to empower her team through mentorship.

A believer in leading with empathy, she explains that compassion and active listening really go a long way in leadership. “It’s important to see the members of your team as human beings and to understand their emotions and perspectives. Prioritising the well-being and growth of people makes them feel valued and in turn, you have their commitment.”

A personal milestone

After 10 years with the organisation, Leanne explains that this role represents a significant milestone in her career.

She joined the company as a financial accountant in 2012, and was appointed as group financial manager in 2013. In 2019, she was promoted to senior group financial manager before stepping into the acting CFO position earlier this year.

“My journey with SAMRO has been a long one and the organisation is close to my heart,” she says. “It makes me feel good to know that the work I do is making a difference in the lives of our members. That’s what motivates me.”

She adds that she would like to strengthen the finance team even more as she takes on more strategic initiatives in the organisation.

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