Stick around to succeed and add value, say top CFOs

Five years is the minimum you should stay with a company and you shouldn’t focus too much on what you’re earning in your first job – this according to a panel of top CFOs, who spoke on the importance of staying the course, during a session on 13 October at Finance Indaba Africa 2017.

Christine Ramon, CFO of AngloGold Ashanti, believes that employees need to stay at organisations for longer than three years to add value and grow personally. "Three years is too short. It takes time to progress in an organisation, not rushing to the next level, consolidating your experience, and being able to apply your knowledge in that organisation to be able to add value. I think you need to be in an organisation for at least five years to consolidate your experience and add value."

Christine completed her articles at Coopers & Lybrand before moving on to Johnnic where she stayed for 11 years, heading next to SASOL as CFO, where she stayed for 11-and-a-half years, before taking a short break. She's been at Anglogold Ashanti for just over three years.

Nishlan Samujh, CFO Investec, worked at Sasol after receiving a bursary from that organisation, and then moved to Investec, where he has been for 17 years. He recalls:

"For those first two years at Investec, I was as itchy as can be. I was young and I wanted to know what was out there. I was at the exploratory stage of my life. Having the right sponsors in the organisation and different layers of exposure in the organisation changed it for me after a period of time."

When the panellists were asked whether pursuing a salary was important from the outset, or if people in their early careers should rather focus on what else they were getting out of their job, Christine said that salary wasn't a key motivator when she started working straight after school. She said:

"But certainly, as you become more senior and reach management level, you should start to be concerned about your salary - are you getting value for what you are putting into the organisation? But you also have to have job satisfaction."

Nishlan added, however, that it's important not to lose sight of the hunger. "Don't use a single lens when you are looking at whether you are getting that satisfaction," he said.