The visionary CFOs that lead South Africa’s finance industry

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This year, we spoke to some of the inspiring leaders that are driving finance across the country.

CFOs Deon Fredericks, Mike Davis, Megan Pydigadu, Charl Keyter, Nishlan Samujh and Bongi Ngoma share important changes in their lives.

Being the youngest senior manager at Telkom in 1993 springboarded Deon Fredericks (featured), group financial director (FD) of Famous Brands' future success. Deon was part of the finance team that helped Telkom transform from a monopoly into a company that can successfully compete against formidable rivals.

Having helped Telkom become lean enough to compete with fast-growing phone operators such as MTN and Vodacom, he was seconded to SAA to step in as interim chief financial officer for a 12-month period.

Read more: Coming out of semi-retirement to embracing new challenges

As Nedbank’s CFO, Mike Davis focuses on sustainability, and feels strongly about the impact of climate change as a citizen of the world. Mike moved to Johannesburg to help Nedbank with the CFO position.

Before joining Nedbank, Mike was with NBS, in the risk space. He describes his time there as offering great experiences before the company went on to merge with Boland to become NBS Boland. This then merged with BOE Investment and Private Bank to become BOE Bank, which was then bought by Nedbank in 2002.

Read more: Mike Davis unpacks policy, power and pandemics

Megan Pydigadu, CFO at EOH, has been with the company for three years. She joined the organisation during a challenging time when it faced questions about ethical practices at the senior management level and faced corruption charges.

For Megan, the key to a high-performance team is how they collaborate together and cross silos to solve issues. The team are all self-starters so often see problems that need to be solved and put teams together to resolve the issue.

Read more: EOH FD Megan Pydigadu reveals the making of a high-performance team

Like Megan, Charl Keyter, Sibanye Stillwater CFO, mentions that he enjoys calculating new strategies both in the Sibanye Stillwater boardroom and on the shooting range

While Charl was learning to calculate ballistics, he was also learning to navigate multiple crises. “We started having Covid-19 meetings long before South Africa went into lockdown, because we had already seen the global trends of the pandemic.”

Read more: CFO Charl Keyter: A strategist at heart

Investec CFO Nishlan Samujh is tasked with looking forward and keeping the bigger picture in mind when they are helping their businesses make decisions. Nishlan notes that the key focus area of life is around disciplined growth.

Read more: CFO Nishlan Samujh: Keeping the “universal” picture in mind

And in 2012, Bongi Ngoma was recruited by the Auditor-General to join the institution as the CFO. “I was motivated by the vision of the organisation and its unrelenting pursuit of strengthening democracy, accounting for how public funds are used and helping in holding accounting officers and executives to account.” This, she explains, is one of the highest callings in her life.

Over the years, she has had various opportunities to join the private sector, but Bongi has stayed true to her purpose, which is “to the people, for the people, and to serve the country and the nation so that it can prosper”.

Read more: Bongi Ngoma’s pursuit of excellence

Willa van den Berg joined Liberty as its CFO, where he said he found a bigger interest in the wider fields of finance. In the 21 years he has been with Liberty, Willa has climbed the finance ranks, and at the beginning of 2022, he was appointed as the group’s new CFO.

“When the opportunity for me to take up the CFO role presented itself, it felt like the natural next step in my career journey,” he said.

Read more: Meet Willa van den Berg, the new CFO at Liberty

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