Held on the 16th of November at the exclusive Polo Room in Sandton's Inanda Club, the event lived up to its moniker as the “Oscars of Finance”, delivering a spectacular celebration of excellence, innovation, and resilience in the financial sector.
In the wake of the recent triumph of the Springboks, the 10th Annual CFO Awards illuminated the South African financial landscape with an evening of glamour, celebration, and recognition.
The air in the Polo Room at the Inanda Club in Sandton was charged with excitement on 16 November, as the CFO South Africa community gathered in full force for this highly anticipated event.
As guests entered, the smooth jazz vibes of the Kopano Jazz Collective serenaded the audience, setting the stage for a night of financial opulence.
Renowned comedian Nik Rabinowitz served as the master of ceremonies, effortlessly weaving tongue-in-cheek jokes and finance-related humour throughout the evening.
The glamorous affair marked not only a celebration of the most recent financial achievements but also a nostalgic reflection on the remarkable milestones of the past decade.
Georgina Guedes, the executive community director at CFO South Africa, took centre stage to underscore the momentous nature of the occasion. Reflecting on the journey of the CFO Awards, she shared the significance of a decade-long legacy that has shaped the financial landscape of South Africa, acknowledging the partners, nominees, judges, and teams that have been integral to the success of the awards.
A retrospective video, showcasing the highs and triumphs over the years, set the stage for an evening of recognition and camaraderie.
Deloitte Africa CEO Ruwayda Redfearn delivered the opening address, commending CFOs for their dedication in a challenging year marked by domestic and global uncertainties. She emphasised the underrated power of hope, a tangible force that inspires organisations to strive for a prosperous future.
Ruwayda expressed delight in witnessing the growth and stature of the Awards over the past six years Deloitte has been a sponsor.
“The Awards have recognised the fact that CFOs are not just ordinary men and women, but shapers of the future of South African companies,” she said.
While guests were enjoying their first part of a three-course dinner, the award-winning South African band The Soil took to the stage, creating an atmosphere that was nothing short of magical as an unscripted collaboration between the band and the “financial choir” ensued.
The attention then turned to the nominees, who were invited on stage to be recognised for being nominated in the first place. Then, the first round of winners of the evening were announced.
FirstRand group CFO Harry Kellan won the Compliance & Governance Award. He took to the podium, saying: “Leadership is not about a title or a designation, it’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Achieving this Award wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the amazing people at FirstRand.”
Vodacom group CFO Raisibe Morathi received the Strategy Execution Award and the High-Performance Team Award, and Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) CFO Isaac Malevu received the Transformation & Empowerment Award.
The Finance Transformation Award went to TransUnion Africa CFO Sharon Naidoo, who highlighted that finance transformation is not just about the processes, the systems, the organisation or the auditing, but mostly about the people. “We need to lead with smart, heart and courage, because the only way we win is through our people,” she said, also thanking her team.
OUTsurance group CFO Jan Hofmeyr took home the Finance & Technology Award. “Implementing technology is incredibly tough and it requires an incredible amount of resilience and grit. This Award really goes out to the finance and technology teams across our South Africa and Australia business who have put in incredible effort to modernise the business.”
The Moving into Africa Award was scooped up by MTN group CFO Tsholofelo Molefe, who emphasised the need for collaboration and unity across borders. “MTN operates in 90 markets across Africa, which comes with a whole host of different challenges. I’ve been part of the company for two and a half years and I’m very privileged to have been part of its growth story.”
After a delectable main course, the evening took a riveting turn with the presence of Kirsten Neuschäfer, winner of the 2022 Golden Globe Race – a solo, nonstop sailing race around the world. In her keynote address, she effortlessly transported the audience into the realm of high-seas adventures.
“It was an amazing experience. It taught me how to be really self-sufficient, because you had to know what spares, food or medical supplies you had to take on board. You had to take care of your crew and all of your passengers, and above all your vessel,” she told the audience about her first job on a boat.
“You learn different sailing techniques to keep the boat above water in any type of weather,” she explained, referring to her 235 days at sea during the race.
Kirsten left guests to draw comparisons between her own story and that of running a business as a CFO as the ceremony moved onto the final part of the evening.
The Young CFO of the Year title went to Webber Wentzel CFO Aneshree Naidoo. Upon receiving the Award, she explained how she had learned a lot from leaders in the industry, many of whom were in the room. “Early on in my career, someone said if you treat people like they’re good, you challenge them to be great. I want to thank all the leaders in the room for challenging me to greatness and pushing me to be the best I can so that I can lead my teams to be the best they can be.”
Isaac was crowned the Public Sector CFO of the Year title. He said the recognition cemented his decision to move to the Public Sector, where leaders are guided by their hearts, minds, and a sense of commitment to making South Africa succeed.
“When I’m asked why I chose to move from the private sector to the public sector, my answer is always that I’m a purpose-driven person and I want to make a difference in any place I’m in. When I got into the public sector I got even more respect for the professionals who are in it. These are people who really touched my heart because they buy into what they are doing with both their heads and hearts, and that’s what makes the difference. So this Award goes out to all the executives of the public sector and state-owned entities that share this emotional commitment.”
And, following a delicious dessert, the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived. Applause echoed through the hall as Raisibe’s name was announced for the third and final time of the evening.
However, she was busy with roadshows overseas and couldn’t attend the ceremony. Vodacom South Africa FD Refilwe Nkabinde accepted the Awards on her behalf, and a video of Raisibe’s acceptance speech was played instead.
“I’m sad that I can’t join you all tonight, but I’m humbled and grateful to receive this Award,” she said in the video. “The Award means a lot to me because I recognise the responsibility that I and others have in paving a path for other professionals in finance, as well as in business, to make a difference in the economy.”
She dedicated it to the many people who have been part of her career journey, especially the Vodacom team. “I also want to acknowledge the support of my loved ones, who have been pillars of strength and have supported many long hours, ups and downs in this demanding role.”
“Enjoy the lovely evening of celebrations in our very South African way,” she concluded.
Joël Roerig, managing director of CFO South Africa, then gave the closing address, saying: “For the past 10 years, the CFO South Africa community has gone from strength to strength, recognising, connecting and helping grow excellent leaders, and we hope to continue that trend into the new year.”
As the night concluded on the veranda overlooking the Polo fields, the echoes of laughter, applause and inspiration lingered.