Xolani Mbambo looks forward to his new role as Grindrod Freight Services CEO

Xolani steps into the role after serving as the company’s FD and briefly spending time in its operations.

Xolani Mbambo was appointed as the CEO of Grindrod Freight Services in February following a successful tenure as the company’s FD.

“I am looking forward to this role with much excitement, but I am under no illusion on the challenges that lie ahead,” Xolani says.

He adds that he looks forward to driving the growth of the business by delivering on its strategy to unlock trade corridors in Africa. This will ensure that the products destined for export and import find the most efficient and cost effective corridors in which Grindrod operates.

Before being appointed as the CEO, Xolani served in the company’s operations department as an executive director for a year. He says that the rationale behind the move from CFO to operations was to spend some time at the coal face with teams in various operations, to intimately understand the core drivers of those businesses and forge good relationships with the people who are vital in executing the company’s strategy. “I also used this time to reflect on the key issues and priorities to focus on in order to make a positive impact on the business when I get appointed as CEO.”

Xolani joined Grindrod in 2013 as the CFO for Freight Services and held the position of group FD from September 2018 to August 2020, for which he received a 2020 CFO Awards nomination.

He says the advantage his previous experience lends to his new role is that translating operational KPIs into numbers or financial outcomes and targets becomes second nature. “But one needs to take caution not to constrain the business as accountants are generally known to have more guardrails than playing fields,” he adds. “One is also able to quickly assess the financial impact of the chosen operational action item or investment decision against required return or applicable investment metrics.”

Prior to joining Grindrod, Xolani served in various managerial roles at Anglo American. He started his career as a trainee accountant at PwC.