Interview

A complete overview of interviews with South Africa's most prominent CFOs and FDs.

13 December 2016

EPPF CFO Nopasika Lila's road to success - in her own words

“Growing up, I remember being told that accounting was a difficult field and that those who were studying to become CAs were considered to be part of the elite,” writes Nopasika Lila, CFO of the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund (EPPF), in this self-penned piece. “I was initially overwhelmed by the task at hand, but over time I elegantly succeeded. My confidence grew and I’ve learned to be a lot more decisive, deliberate and immediate in my actions.” In this guest article, Nopasika reveals how she charted her path to success, talks about her love for the piano, and shares some crucial lessons about mentoring and people management.

29 November 2016

Finance teams are a sounding board for decision-makers, says Philip Timberlake, CFO of Liberty Health

When he’s not hard at work heading up the finance team at Liberty Health, CFO Philip Timberlake can be found running along his favourite trails on Table Mountain, developing his “mental fortitude”. The key to being a successful CFO lies in communication, he says: “Within our economy of knowledge, ideas are currency. Of course, to understand, we need to listen, engage and be prepared to let go of our own ideas.”

22 November 2016

Evan Tsatsarolakis, Taste Holdings' CFO, talks about the Starbucks and Domino's acquisitions

“We started a new business in Domino’s – our stores had only been open for a year before we started another new business with Starbucks. The food business was like a startup within a startup. At this point in time there are a lot of moving pieces,” says Evan Tsatsarolakis, Group CFO of Taste Holdings, and a CFO Awards 2016 nominee. He adds that while this brings its own complications and challenges, he is confident that future growth opportunities will be plentiful. We sat down with Evan to talk about the two acquisitions, his role as CFO and what it is about Taste Holdings – which began as a family-owned business but which is now a JSE-listed group operating eight brands within its Food and Luxury Goods divisions – that makes the company so successful.

15 November 2016

The Woolworths watershed: Reeza Isaacs, CFO of the Year 2016

“Setting a target, being clear about it and measuring it are some of the key ingredients for my success,” says Reeza Isaacs, group finance director at Woolworths, who was elected CFO of the Year 2016 at the CFO Awards on 12 May. Reeza talks to us about his adventures in Australia, acquiring a new brand, his passion for transformation, and changing the mindset of the business to focus on balance sheet and return on capital.

11 November 2016

Brian Molefe, Eskom CEO, quits

"I have, in the interests of good corporate governance, decided to leave my employ at Eskom from 1 January 2017," wrote Brian Molefe (pictured), CEO of Eskom, in a statement released today regarding his decision to leave the company. "I do so voluntarily: indeed, I wish to pay tribute to the unfailing support I have had since I took up office from the chairman, the Board and with those with whom it has been my privilege to work. Together we brought Eskom back from the brink. I will take time off to reflect before I decide on my next career move."

02 November 2016

Four top finance bosses reveal the reasons for their success on the continent

What does it take to be successful in the rest of Africa? We asked four CFOs who were nominated for the 2016 CFO Awards to share some tips. Here’s what Bikash Prasad from Olam International, Johan Geel from Afgri, Mohammed Abdool-Samad from Illovo, and Osman Arbee from Imperial Group had to say on the matter. Bikash Prasad (right): look at the long term Bikash Prasad has quickly moved through the ranks and last year became CFO for Africa and the Middle-East at Olam International, a global agri-business operating from seed to shelf. Bikash has been a long-standing supporter of CFO South Africa and the panel of judges voted him as winner or the 2016 Moving into Africa Award, which he received out of the hands of Standard Bank’s CIB CFO Luvuyo Masinda on 12 May 2016. We asked him what it takes to be successful in Africa. “Look at the long term. You might have challenges in the short term, with the global economic slowdown and the slowdown in China impacting the continent, but the long term is looking very bullish and positive.” “To operate in Africa, you have to be a noble corporate citizen. You cannot be non-compliant. You need to really believe in sustainability and get a license from the community you want to work in, not just an official license from the government you are dealing with. We hardly ever run into any trouble because of that approach. Recruiting and developing talent is also crucial.”

01 November 2016

Osman Arbee, double winner at CFO Awards 2016, ready for new challenge at Imperial

Far from slowing down now that retirement age is looming, Osman Arbee is about to enjoy a serious promotion. The CFO of Imperial Holdings will become CEO of Imperial Motors in January, and will hold both posts simultaneously for three months while he grooms the next CFO to replace him. “It’s not a bad way to finish off your career, running a big business for three to four years then retiring,” he says. “It’s a nice change at the right time of my life, working with people I enjoy working with in a business I know and enjoy. It’s an opportunity to use my brain in another way.”

25 October 2016

Public sector CFOs must adapt quickly to change, says Irene Mathatho, CFO of the Companies Tribunal

Growing up in a rural village in Mokopane, Limpopo, Irene Mathatho, current CFO of the Companies Tribunal, didn’t have a role model. But she liked to read and loved to learn. “I even found it interesting going to the bank, watching the tellers. I used to think, one day I want to be somewhere in these offices,” she recalls. Discovering she had a natural aptitude for accounting, Irene chose to embrace this, though she laughs when she says she wasn’t aware of all the hard work a career in finance would entail. The Companies Tribunal is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti). It was established in terms of the Companies Act No. 71 of 2008 to adjudicate applications made in terms of Section 195 of the Act and resolve disputes through mediation, conciliation and arbitration. As CFO, Irene oversees the full finance function. Given the relative newness of the entity – it was established in 2012 – her job is not without plentiful challenges. We chatted to Irene about what she’s achieved since taking up the position and how she’s finding life in the public sector. Tell us about your current role and your team. “I am the first CFO at the Companies Tribunal. When it was established, many of the functions were outsourced to KPMG, including some of the CFO functions. I had to begin by reviewing some policies that KPMG developed and devise my own. I also had to align policies to processes. I’m responsible for the overall management of the finances and the preparation of financial reports, supply chain management, risk management, payroll management, asset management and strategic planning. I also need to ensure compliance with the Public Finance Management Act, as well as that everything complies with generally recognised accounting practices.”

07 October 2016

AAT (SA): The professional home for accounting technicians

“The Association of Accounting Technicians South Africa [AAT (SA)] adds value where CFOs and strategic people need to make decisions. If you get the work right at support staff level there are less errors, the quality of financial statements should be better, you should see shorter month-end periods and cleaner audits,” says Nadine Kater, General Manager of the organisation. We had a chat to Nadine about the organisation and where it fits into the industry, as well as what value it adds to finance professionals.

27 September 2016

Sibanye Gold CFO Charl Keyter talks risks and results

Charl Keyter was first introduced to mining as a child, when he used to visit the Gold Fields operations with his dad’s cousin. He was fascinated. “The atmosphere on the mines in those days was almost holiday-like,” he recalls. “Maybe because we only ever spent a day or a week there, every so often, but the facilities and the people living in the community, the activities they did with the kids, there was always this great atmosphere.”

20 September 2016

Talent and diversity make finance strong: Dineo Molefe, CFO T-Systems

Dineo Molefe took on the role of chief financial officer of T-Systems at the beginning of May. She oversees both the Johannesburg and Cape Town teams, with 47 people and six direct reports looking to her for guidance. She strongly believes the secret to a solid and successful team is having exceptional and talented people. In her words, a varied skills base is also very important: “You have to have a diversity of skills and backgrounds. When you have people who all think the same that doesn’t help the team. Diversity of mindset is also important. And you need people who are self-starters.” CFO South Africa caught up with Dineo to find out how the first few months have been. How are you enjoying your new role? Have you encountered any challenges since you took office? What changes have you made, if any? “It was a bit of a hit and run to start! Within finance we have Controlling, Corporate Finance, Commercial, Procurement, and Legal. The role provides a good balance between being strategically focused and being involved in operations. Our finance team is embarking on a journey to transform itself and to be more of a business partner, so that we play our role in being an enabler to business and not a stumbling block.”

06 September 2016

Changing mindsets and looking to the future, a chat with Brigid Mosola, Walter Sisulu University CFO

“When I came on board the staff were demotivated and unproductive. There was no teamwork and they did not trust in each other. It was a disaster,” says Brigid Mosola, CFO of Walter Sisulu University (WSU). In this exclusive interview with CFO South Africa, Brigid, who has been CFO for around 18 months, and who was recently placed on a precautionary suspension by the University’s new Vice Chancellor pending charges, speaks candidly about the state of the university’s finance department, the challenges of restructuring and building staff morale, and making unpopular decisions.

23 August 2016

Focus on value: an interview with IBM South Africa's new CFO Sandra Atkins-Sadler

“We have to shift the lens through which CFOs look at finance transformation and make it effective by focusing on value,” says Sandra Atkins-Sadler, who joined IBM South Africa as CFO earlier this year. “I think IBM can make a difference by continuing to invest in skills training and development of future CFOs. At the same time our business solutions will make a difference to the bottom line of current CFOs.”

16 August 2016

Mentoring is an enabling activity, says Deloitte Consulting CFO Aneshree Naidoo

"Make it count. Everything I do should be positively impactful. I feel there should be a theme of constant improvement, whether that's for yourself, the business or the people around you," says Aneshree Naidoo, CFO at Deloitte Consulting. Aneshree believes strongly in the power of mentoring and peer-to-peer learning and encourages aspiring and seasoned professionals to snatch up every chance they get to grow their knowledge base and skills. "I've rolled out mentoring programmes in organisations I’ve been a part of. These programmes were initially afforded to women as part of specific diversity initiatives and then to all interested. I believe in inclusive mentoring." How did you come to pursue a career in the finance industry? "It's a simple story. I enjoyed Science and Maths at school. My career choice initially was to pursue chemical engineering. One holiday I had the opportunity to do vacation work at a well-known plant. On site, I didn't take to the daily wear of heavy boots, jumpsuits and goggles. I then tried vacation work at Ernst Young. I enjoyed it thoroughly – the client interaction, how numbers told a story. I learnt that I could use numbers to make really big, bold decisions – and I took to the corporate, professional attire. My passion for Accounting and Maths came together and I decided to become a chartered accountant." Who were or are your mentors? "I've had mentors within the group of companies I've worked for but not directly in the company I was employed at. At Avanade, I was fortunate to have a professional coach and mentor based in the UK. It is enabling to have a mentor. As you grow into various roles, you need somebody to playback ideas or challenges. I extracted value from mentoring experiences where my mentor was in a different role, industry or even company from me as the experience supplemented my skills." How important is it for leaders in the finance industry to meet peers? "It's essential. Personal interactions are energising, especially when you hear peers experiencing similar challenges to you. It's encouraging to learn of solutions that are working for others and even discover opportunities to partner in business. We’re getting better at connecting more in SA." What are your career goals? "My career goal centres on creating leadership capacity within our country. I'm driven by purposeful roles and I’m now more about supporting education, training and/or mentoring initiatives in our country rather than progressing the ‘corporate ladder’ or being defined by a job title. I am passionate about education, positively influencing it at a very early stage in a deep and significant way, enabling more South Africans to be brand ambassadors for our country and lifting SA’s global contributions." What do you most enjoy about working in finance? "I love the picture or story that gets created through numbers and that I have the ability to influence and create that story. I love that diverse people, complex processes, relationships and overall many moving parts come together in the form of financial results. I enjoy connecting these various moving parts to tell the financial story and propose and steer financial and operational excellence." What do you most enjoy about the CFO role? What do you dislike about it? "I enjoy the challenge of growing companies, especially in our current economic climate which presents new learning and evolving opportunities for business. I enjoy understanding business levers and driving change to improve business performance. There’s a new problem to solve every day. What I dislike most is when custodians of business allow self-interest to override sound business decisions. I have a fiduciary responsibility and a bigger purpose, so I challenge those behaviours." You joined Deloitte Consulting in March. What has it been like so far? "It's been going well. There are immediate operational finance topics I am steering across Africa and with the broader firm and I’ve gone through our budget and year-end process already. I’m learning about the broad array of professional services offered by Deloitte Consulting, not to mention the exciting M&A activities. I’m also the Lead Committee sponsor for Deloitte Women in Leadership Consulting, which is progressive." Prior to this you were at T-Systems South Africa. What did you achieve while there? "T-Systems is a large technology company. My notable achievements were bringing about marked efficiencies and increased effectiveness of the finance team. I strengthened team skills through hiring qualified professionals and introduced strong commercial themes of finance enabling business growth. Through innovative deal shaping and pricing, pro-active support for our internal and external customers and introducing a theme of ‘Finance gets Loud’, I brought about a cultural team change for the better. I am proud of the strong 2015 results posted, which included milestone profitability achievements. I also drove the M&A strategy. It was an exciting journey to unlock new revenue streams with different partners in the market." You are young and yet you've enjoyed great success in your career thus far. How does this make you feel, and what has been key to your success? "I'm proud, I'm excited and I’m mostly humbled. Success is not finite to me; it's continuous and evolving. I’m always energised to explore the next level. I constantly try to displace myself so I create space for new leadership capacity."

09 August 2016

Integrity is everything for a CFO, says Rendani Sadiki, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform CFO

“You have to be mindful of operating within the law at all times as a CFO in the public sector, because it’s your career on the line,” says Rendani Sadiki, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform CFO. “Colleagues may make requests that are outside the ambit of the law, but you have to explore the prescripts before you respond. You mustn’t just say no; you must bring a solution. That person might not be intentionally trying to break the law, they might just not be acquainted with those prescripts. So I rather try to advise them of their options.” The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is mandated to create and maintain equitable land dispensation and acts as a catalyst in rural development to ensure sustainable rural livelihoods, which it does through various programmes and initiatives. Rendani oversees strategic financial management within the Department – a mandate she says is quite broad. “As the financial strategist, I have to develop and implement financial strategies to manage limited resources at our disposal so that the department is able to deliver the services efficiently and effectively, and within budget.” She also oversees the governance of the Department.

02 August 2016

Balancing personalities is key to a strong team, says Graham McGregor, New GX Capital Holdings CFO

“The most unsettling thing for anyone is uncertainty,” says Graham McGregor, CFO of New GX Capital Holdings, a BEE investment holding company with interests in the environmental solutions, logistics, power and telecoms, and corporate finance advisory sectors. Sharing his experience, while in his previous position, of a merger that happened between two very different businesses under one umbrella company McGregor says keeping staff abreast of what was happening at all times was crucial: “Because if there’s a communication gap, people fill in the gap themselves.” He also learnt an important lesson:

29 July 2016

Seyi Bickersteth, National Senior Partner KPMG Nigeria, on Africa's potential to be great

“We [Africa] need to market ourselves more. We have a continent with lots of opportunities for people, we have a young and vibrant population and a growing middle class. We need to let people know that we are open for business and that we are very investor friendly,” says Seyi Bickersteth, National Senior Partner KPMG Nigeria & Chairman KPMG Africa Practice. Seyi has enjoyed a long and illustrious career – one that spans 40 years, in fact – and is no stranger to change. Currently, he oversees KPMG’s business in Africa, and calls his most important responsibilities developing people, outlining the vision for KPMG, and setting the strategy for how the firm will move forward. “Our clients are increasingly telling us they want to succeed in Africa but in order to do that they need a firm that can provide a single point of contact to meet all of their expectations in the region. This guides our strategy.”

19 July 2016

Successful CFOs must be able to self-reflect, says Lewis Kangausaru, CFO of Groeneveld South Africa

"To lead you need to know yourself and why you’re doing things,” opines Groeneveld South Africa CFO, Lewis Kangausaru. Lewis has been a part of the Groeneveld team since October 2013, and is responsible for the full financial governance of the company. He says reflectiveness is a core of the leadership principle: “To be forward-thinking you need to be reflective, to take time to think about what has occurred in a given space of time, the decisions you’ve made, why you’ve made them and the current outcomes.”

11 July 2016

Peter Christie on the power of storytelling for effective leaders

As a youngster, Peter Christie was enormously fond of Western movies, particularly those which featured North American Indians giving cowboys what he calls “a good klapping”. One movie in particular made a big impression on the youngster: The Great Sioux Massacre, where, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, shaman Big Chief Sitting Bull led the defeat of General Custer and other troops of the US Army. Peter can still recall a gift he received from his parents at this time: a colourful North American Indian costume that included feathered headdress, leather-tasselled vest, moccasins and tomahawk. Needless to say it immediately became a firm favourite of the energetic six-year-old who, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, answered without hesitation, “Big Chief Sitting Bull”. Peter being quite the chatterbox, his dad adapted this to “Big Chief Talking Bull”, and the name stuck. Peter has always had a liking for stories – reading them, telling them, watching them, and writing them. As an adult, he turned this talent into a career, establishing a successful consultancy that teaches business people how to unlock their storytelling potential in order to become better, more influential leaders.

08 July 2016

How to become the world's most inspiring accountant: a chat to Coenie Middel

"We have always believed passionately in the role accountants play in creating a better world by helping to make businesses more successful, creating jobs and generating wealth," says Coenraad 'Coenie' Middel, whose firm Middel & Partners has been named as one of the most inspiring accountancy practices in the world and has been included in the recently published ‘The World’s Most Inspiring Accountants’ by author Steve Pipe.

07 July 2016

Meet Simon Ridley (Standard Bank), recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the CFO Awards 2016

CFO South Africa chose to honour Simon Ridley (pictured), recently retired FD of Standard Bank and CFO of the Year 2014, as well as esteemed member of this year’s judging panel, by presenting him with a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s CFO Awards. Unfortunately, Simon was unable to accept the award in person and spend the evening celebrating with his peers, as he was touring Namibia on a motorbike at the time of the event. Simon’s colleague, Luvuyo Masinda, CFO Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), accepted the award on his behalf. Masinda said:

05 July 2016

DigiCore CFO Cobus Grove: The Good, the Bid & the Ugly

Most CFOs dream of saving a company with sheer accounting brilliance, fantasise about lining shareholders’ pockets through a spectacular M&A deal, and secretly yearn for fame. Cobus Grove achieved all that before he turned 34 years old. In a series of interviews with CFO South Africa, Cobus shares how he saved JSE-listed company DigiCore and sold it to US firm Novatel Wireless. He talks about his compulsion to keep succeeding and gives candid insight into the personal toll of managing such high-stake corporate manoeuvres.

28 June 2016

Fear and uncertainty after #Brexit - Peregrine Group CFO Robert Katz

The British withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) would very possibly have an effect on South African businesses, although some industries will be harder hit than others – and some might see opportunities. “Personally I don’t think Brexit is a good thing,” says Robert Katz, CFO of wealth and asset management firm Peregrine Group. “South Africa is a risk-on economy. That means that when there are global jitters, South African stocks get sold off and the rand comes under pressure.”

28 June 2016

A humble CFO is a successful CFO, says Lauren Van Zyl, Divisional CFO of Eqstra Fleet Management and Logistics

“For me, being a successful CFO is not even technical; it’s about being humble. The role can go to your head and that creates drama,” says Lauren Van Zyl, Divisional CFO of Eqstra Fleet Management and Logistics. “Being humble makes you approachable, and the more approachable you are the more likely staff will be to come to you if there’s a problem, and that’s important.” Lauren, who pursued a career in finance after convincing herself she would never be interested in the industry, heads up a team of 45 staff members, and says the people aspect of the job is as rewarding as it is challenging. “That’s what nobody prepares you for. As a finance person, you’re very comfortable with the numbers, with the technical, but you aren’t comfortable with having so many people report to you, trust you and rely on you.” How did you first get into finance and how did you come to be a CFO? “At school, one of my main subjects was speech and drama. I was convinced I was never going to go into finance. When choosing my studies, I first registered for industrial psychology, but I didn’t even make it through one lecture and realised that wasn’t going to work. I changed my degree and went into Informatics. I was doing really well but realised I didn’t have a passion for it – it didn’t gel with me. I found my way to finance and thought I’d pursue general finance, believing there was no chance I’d do a CA. But at that moment I realised I would be stopping just before the finish line, so I decided to go the whole hog and completed my B.Com (Accounting) Honours, and then my articles through Deloitte. After my articles I stayed on for a short period, but I decided I wasn’t audit manager material. I was battling with the concept of siting across the table from a CFO and telling him how to run his business when I didn’t know what it was like to be in his position. I wanted to be able to give a CFO advice based on my own experiences. I felt like I needed that foundation.”

23 June 2016

Zaf Mahomed, McDonald's: Demand more - real leaders are listening

CFO South Africa MD Graham Fehrsen was recently invited to sit in on a monthly meeting of the senior finance leaders from one of South Africa’s largest financial services providers. In this monthly meeting, arranged by the CFO, the senior team gets insight from an expert or leader from outside the business - on this occasion Zaf Mahomed (pictured), CFO of McDonald’s South Africa, who shared some of his experience and insights from his time as the CFO of Ellerines.

21 June 2016

BP Southern Africa CFO Udayan Sen: The CFO as co-pilot

CFOs are business partners across multiple business functions – an attribute of the role that has evolved the most in the last decade or so, opines Udayan Sen, CFO of BP Southern Africa. He says: “The once maligned bean counters are now businessmen and women, who by the way also happen to be the head of the finance function. Almost to say, if there was a tag line to describe CFOs, it would say: ‘We also have Finance accountability’. In BP, the CFO is the co-pilot, and supports the CEO to run the business."

15 June 2016

Celebrating success with future-ready finance professionals

The 14th of June 2016 marked a first for CFO South Africa as MD Graham Fehrsen hosted a lively dinner with finance leaders in Durban at the impeccable Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga. Although the bright lights of KwaZulu-Natal may not be quite those of Gauteng, the province is home to a number of significant multinationals and leading corporates. This dinner attracted finance professionals from Olam, Tiger Brands, Mondi, Illovo Sugar and ARB Holdings.

07 June 2016

Finance is the backbone of business says Fabian Cazares, Philips Healthtech CFO Southern Africa

A CFO should have a clear view of the potential risk areas and their mitigation actions, says Fabian Cazares, CFO/Head of Finance Southern Africa for Philips Healthtech. "Risk management is a key area, especially in volatile and emerging markets. The CFO needs to ensure that there is a proper risk management strategy in place and closely drive this, as well as to develop both short and long-term mitigation actions to guarantee business continuity." Fabian sees change as a journey, and believes that communication and transparency are important in effecting change, as they allow all stakeholders to see both the impact and benefits of such undertakings. The majority of your career seems to have been with Philips, albeit in different capacities and divisions. What keeps you here? "Something I really like about Philips as a company is that they take seriously the development of their employees. Philips use to be well known in electronics, but its focus in the healthcare arena is making a greater impact in people lives. This echoes the vision, mission and values of the company, and that motivates me to stay here." In which post that you've held over the years did you learn the most? "I've been with Philips for 10 years, seven of which I've worked in emerging markets. I would say that in this position I've learnt the most because I've had the opportunity to build the business all across the African continent, for example." What key learnings have you taken away from your assignments in emerging markets? "I'm originally from Mexico, so I feel familiar with emerging markets. My main takeaways, especially in South Africa and Africa, are about the passion, entrepreneurship and desire of people to improve their lives. These values are reflected in both the social and the business environments." You've been in your current role since July 2015. What have you achieved during this time and what more do you still want to achieve? "As Philips Healthtech focuses on the development of new business in the healthcare arena, I have been setting the roadmap for the enablers required. But this isn't enough just yet. I want to keep achieving; keep making a difference and ensure I am the agile business partner required for this market and my organisation."

31 May 2016

Africa's potential is exponential, says CHH CFO, Seithati Bolipombo

“Transformation won’t happen by osmosis or natural selection because at its core and at its foundation, it is a people thing. It comes down to behaviour and is a decision that people make,” says Seithati Bolipombo, CFO of Chancellor House Holdings (CHH), a privately held investment holding company founded in 2003. Seithati is extremely passionate about the subject of transformation and opines that while we’ve made good strides, there is still plenty of room for improvement. She also thinks we need to be prouder of our African heritage: “We need to elevate the pride of the African identity. The more globalised and Westernised we become, the more anything that was founded or established in Africa seems to have less of a reputation than the equivalent founded outside the continent. In business and in civil society, the African identity has to be prioritised and celebrated.” How did you get into finance? “This wasn’t always the plan! When I was in high school I actually wanted to work with young people. I had a chat to one of my teachers, who was like a mentor to me at the time. She said to me, ‘The world needs more people with strong values in critical pillars of society than it does within social services. You need people with the right heart and mind to be making those decisions in terms of where resources go’. She encouraged me to look into finance.” What do you most enjoy about the industry? “You get to shape the economy. Your area of financial excellence contributes to a bigger economic landscape, which really determines the growth of the country and therefore how it benefits its people.” In your opinion, what are the most important elements or considerations when devising a business strategy? "Every business exists for its customers or its clients. That’s first and foremost the thing you’ve got to preoccupy yourself with; being obsessed about understanding the people for whom you exist as a business, their needs, their demographics, and what keeps them awake at night. Then you have to consider what solution you are providing and how you meet their needs. My philosophy is that business concepts don’t fail due to a lack of either resources or the right people or staff. I believe that business concepts fail due to an inability to bring value to the table of exchange. I believe that people are willing to spend money as long as the solution that is being provided is a valid and valuable one. That’s the biggest element of business strategy for me.” What role do you think the CFO plays in the strategic vision of a company? “As CFO you may be the ’bean counter’ but you should also able to add value to strategy and decision-making based on numbers, so that business decisions are not made on gut feel or emotion. The strategy has to be based on strong strategic and financial fundamentals.” “In formulating strategy, management undertakes a critical assessment of the industry the business is in, as well as its competitors. It is crucial that this assessment is also based on financial evidence too. If it comes down to a choice of two paths the company could take, it’s a question of what do the numbers say. I’m particular about the numbers because I feel they’re objective to a certain extent – as long as we’re not cooking them.”

26 April 2016

Reputation is everything, says Black Rhino CFO Paul Inbona

"As an executive, your greatest asset is your reputation. I think that a lot of people in finance in particular would do very well to focus on that issue and ensure that they are able to make the tough decision when it comes to being asked to do things that are not in their view of the world, or which they deem unacceptable," says Paul Inbona, CFO of Black Rhino, part of the Black Stone Group, which focuses on development projects in the power generation and oil & gas infrastructure industries. Paul, an avid bridge player, believes that while it is crucial to have a CFO network, it is as important to have a network within your own industry. "I find people aren't immersed enough in their own business. To understand the story behind the numbers you have to understand the market, the industry and the players. For me that is as important as the technical aspect of the CFO role." How did you come to pursue a career in the finance industry? "I'm actually an engineer by background. I studied at one of the top French academic institutions and was thinking about what I wanted to do at the end of that school and it was either to go be an engineer in production or be in a lab, and neither of those appealed to me. Then I came across the auditing profession and what interested me there was that through the lens of the auditor you got to look at the whole business and touch on all the business processes from recruitment to procurement, investments, assets capitalisation and depreciation, sales and marketing even. Every aspect of the business ends up being reflected in your books. And that's how I got involved and interested in the financial world at large. I started with the auditing profession and moved into management consulting and private equity business after I did my MBA. I then moved on to CFO and operational CFO roles." You've been with Black Rhino Group since May 2015. What have you achieved during this time? "I took on a position where there was virtually no one in charge of finance, so I had to start from scratch getting the books up to the standard that I strive to achieve and strengthening the team, bringing in additional people with the critical skills needed to get the finance function into place. I hired a tax manager and an HR manager. We've also been implementing a new ERP system. I'm happy with the progress so far. It's going well, not as fast as I would've liked, but we are moving in the right direction. In addition, I spend a fair amount of time supporting the transactions in terms of tax and accounting advice where required and I am involved with the General Counsel in the overall structuring of the Group." You've worked in various countries – DRC, Canada, Australia, France, South Africa and Switzerland. How does the working culture differ between these places, and how do you adapt each time? "To adapt to different cultures you've got to be open and agile, as well as willing to understand where you're moving into before trying to impose on other people how you think they should do things. You've also got to learn the local language, the way people interact, the way they communicate, and the nuances of that country's business culture." "The finance function is fairly common across countries, what is different is the level of education and the level of sophistication among the people. In Australia there is a very skilled, computer literate, professional workforce. It is really impressive. In the DRC it was quite the opposite. The education is poor, though people are very willing to learn. So you've got to adapt yourself to the level of the audience, and learn how things are done in those places, because it can be quite different to what you're used to in your environment of origin." Where do you go for advice about doing business in Africa? "We rely a lot on local and international legal and accounting firms. Local firms give you the local insight, which is very important, to ensure you understand the local context and you get advice that is relevant and you may even pick up upcoming changes in legislation that a big international firm may not be aware of, but international firms give you experience of structuring transactions with the correct jurisdictions and understanding and navigating the landscape of transfer pricing issues that the local firms may not be fully aware of, as well as international tax and legal issues. You've also got to develop a network of contacts in those countries. When I was in the DRC I became a member of the Chamber of Mines. It's important to be able to lobby at the right level of government and institutions that you deal with." How important is it for CFOs to meet peers? "We are in the position where we are more and more subject to compliance and regulation and very often a CFO in another industry may have some specificities at the margin. So somewhere, someone will have faced the problem you are faced with. Meeting peers accelerates the learning curve. Using your network to leverage your relationships ensures you are able to deal with the issue at hand quicker than if you don't use your network. So it's extremely important."

12 April 2016

Learning from the best: new DigiCore CFO Nicholas Bofilatos

The 33-year-old Nicholas Bofilatos is one of South Africa's youngest CFOs, having recently succeeded Cobus Grove as DigiCore CFO, after vehicle and fleet tracking firm was bought by the American digital solutions behemoth Novatel Wireless in October 2015. We spoke to Nicholas about learning from his predecessor and from other peers during our CFO events, about his promotion and about combining his hectic work with a family life - including young twins.

14 March 2016

Give African executives opportunity to develop: Pratik Chandaria (Africa Advisory Group)

Contrary to perceptions, there is a strong potential pool of great local business leaders in Africa," says Pratik Chandaria of Africa Advisory Group, a company specialising in recruiting executives and developing the next generation of leadership for Africa. "The strength of the leadership pool is defined by the potential you see in it. This means you have to be willing to give leadership talent the opportunity to develop; particularly in Africa where leadership skill sets are still developing. I rank the pool highly in terms of potential."

09 March 2016

How to succeed in Africa: 5 questions for Kamal Patel (Thomson Reuters)

Local talent, knowledge and understanding of the local context is crucial for businesses to be successful in African countries north of South Africa, says Kamal Patel, Head of Corporates & Partnerships at Thomson Reuters. Kamal is one of the exciting speakers lined up for our CFO event Moving into Africa on Wednesday 16 March 2016. To get to know him we contacted him - during a business trip in Ethiopia! - and asked him five questions.

09 February 2016

Balancing the stakeholders - the success of Alexander Forbes CFO Deon Viljoen

Being a business partner is extremely important, but a CFO should never forget to bring his or her financial acumen to the table, says CFO of the Year 2015 Deon Viljoen. As money boss at Alexander Forbes he has guided the company through a rebirth that included a delisting and a relisting on the JSE. These days ‘higher purpose’ and ‘balancing stakeholders’ are key success factors at South Africa’s largest retirement fund administrator, he reveals.

02 February 2016

Skilled local resources key in Africa, says Illovo CFO Mohammed Abdool-Samad

Africa is complex and diverse, so here’s a secret tip from Mohammed Hoosen Abdool-Samad, finance director at Illovo Sugar. “To succeed, you need to have a deep understanding of the political and macroeconomic landscape. This can only be done by having skilled and experienced local resources that understand the business environment. Overreliance on expats can result in the business being ‘unplugged’ from the local business environment."

19 January 2016

Paul Marten, CFO Microsoft SA: talking products within finance

“As a finance team we can bring our own products into the conversation with our business partners and our customers, by talking about how we do things at Microsoft.” Discussions about finance transformation and the evolution of the CFO can sometimes sound theoretical and dry – not so with Paul Marten, Finance Director at Microsoft South Africa. Using the same tools that his famous firm is selling, he embodies the outward looking finance leader of the 21st century.

12 January 2016

How to achieve a clean audit, an interview with CFO Shabeer Khan (the dti)

In an exclusive interview with CFO South Africa, Shabeer Khan, chief financial officer of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), explains how he and his dedicated team managed to achieve a clean audit. Somewhere in Pretoria there is a big government department where the financial statements reported are of the highest quality, supply chain management legislation is adhered to and wasteful expenditure is a thing of the past. In September the Minister of Trade and Industry proudly announced that the dti had just received a clean audit for the 2014/15 financial year. He also deservedly deflected much of the praise to CFO Shabeer Khan and his highly committed team.

04 January 2016

Exclusive - Prof Mervyn King: `CFOs critical for integrated thinking`

“My grandson Daniel, who calls me ‘judge’ like many other people, recently said ‘Judge, you are always in airplanes, you must have a big carbon footprint?’ He also asked me if I recycle all the paper I use. And that was coming from an eight-year-old!” Not only is Prof Mervyn King’s anecdote endearing, the former Supreme Court judge and global governance guru also makes a good point; even an eight-year-old knows that the world is changing. “It will be a disaster if companies don’t start thinking in an integrated way.”

30 December 2015

Exclusive: Treasury ace Dalu Majeke goes home to help the Eastern Cape

Since 2009 he was CFO at the National Treasury and in 2014 he even scooped up a CFO Awards nomination. Recently, Dalu Majeke has moved back to the Eastern Cape and joined the provincial treasury as head of department. “It is Buyelekhaya - ploughing back to home - for me," says Dalu, a staunch supporter of CFO South Africa, during this exclusive interview. Working at the National Treasury "was a game changer in my career", he says, but now it is time to help improve the Eastern Cape achieve "proper resource allocation and sustainable service delivery".

22 December 2015

Jovan Grujic, PISU & Co: restructuring to draw investors and private equity

“For a Kenyan company like ours, the competition is nowhere and the room for growth is enormous,” says Jovan Grujic, CFO of the diverse, family-owned group PISU & Company. The Serbian money boss has had some great successes during his career in Europe and now wants to cut his teeth in a real growth market. “I was seeing growth in Asia and Africa and decided to be part of it. I want to be here while it happens, not afterwards. It is a big challenge but very rewarding.”

16 December 2015

Finance Indaba hosts finals of The CFO Case Study Competition

The cream of the crop of Africa's aspiring CFOs and business leaders will be competing for a prize of R100,000 during the global finals of The CFO Case Study Competition, hosted at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016. With entries for participants closing in March 2016, we spoke to Valentine Nti, CEO of organiser CharterQuest Institute about the way CFOs, corporate sponsors, professional bodies, universities and business talents of 25 years and younger can get involved.

15 December 2015

Oliver Mwita, DHL Express Kenya: promoting integrity is role of CFO

“The role of the CFO is to promote integrity,” says Oliver Mwita, chief financial officer of DHL Express in Kenya. We spoke exclusively to the experienced finance leader, who has previously held positions at Deloitte, Nation Media, Gateway Broadcasting, Muthaiga Country Club, Nakumatt and Frigoken. We chatted to Oliver about his career, the challenges for CFOs in Kenya and his advice for young, ambitious accountants who want to make it in Nairobi – and the world.

08 December 2015

Kenya in need of great CFOs, says Stavros Constantinou (Multiple Group)

“Great CFOs know exactly how to build controls, push transformation and convince stakeholders to invest in technology and that is what Kenya needs,” says Stavros Constantinou, Group CFO at the ever expanding privately-owned business Multiple Group. The executive from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus says the CFO Kenya community comes to Nairobi at exactly the right time. “We are here to help each other, because one plus one can equal three. This is the way forward.”

01 December 2015

From private equity to leadership... Mpact CFO Brett Clark

“It is tempting as a CFO to get involved in every urgent issue affecting the business, because finance encompasses so many parts of the business," says Brett Clark, the CFO of Mpact and one of the nominees of the 2015 CFO of the Year Awards. “However, I believe a good CFO needs to create the time to analyse the information available in the business, visit the operations, debate issues with team members and focus on the key areas affecting the business.”

24 November 2015

David Hodnett, with Barclays Africa to 'fully international, fully regional and fully local'

As deputy chief executive officer and finance director, David Hodnett is the right hand of CEO Maria Ramos at Barclays Africa. In an exclusive interview with CFO South Africa, he speaks about his love for detail, his relationship with Ramos and the creation of Barclays. He also reveals how he very deliberately chose to plot his career path via risk management roles and why he sees the way he deals with people as a reason for his success. “I believe in accountability and giving people space to operate.”

04 November 2015

Exclusive: why Standard Chartered CFO Jo Pohl moved to Telesure

Jo-Ann Pohl, a platinum member of CFO South Africa, has left her job as CFO Africa at Standard Chartered Bank to join insurance conglomerate Telesure Investment Holdings as group CFO, effective 15 October 2015. We spoke exclusively to Jo and asked her why she moved, what her proudest moment was at Standard Chartered Bank and what she hopes to achieve at Telesure. "The opportunity to work in non-banking financial services with a proudly South African brand on home soil was a compelling proposition and aligned to my personal goals."

03 November 2015

Gatekeeper and brand ambassador - Discovery Health CFO Brett Tromp

“The role of the CFO is changing dramatically and I believe being a brand ambassador is critical,” says Brett Tromp, CFO at Discovery Health and winner of not one but two CFO Awards this year. Brett's optimism, energy and strategic acumen earned him the title Young CFO of the Year and he also managed to win the High Performance Team Award. We spoke with him about Discovery’s new pharmacy offering, his push for reporting on health indicators and his values of integrity, intelligence, optimism and energy. “Integrity, intelligence, optimism and energy are my four key assets."

27 October 2015

Clean books and clean streets: Suren Maharaj at Pikitup

Inheriting the wonky books of a government-owned company known for its shoddy service delivery and corruption sagas involving many staff members including the senior management is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Durban-born CA Suren Maharaj was clearly up to the task. He managed to turn around Pikitup, the waste management company of the City of Johannesburg and turn an organisation with disastrous financials into a success story.

20 October 2015

From scenario planning to integrity, a chat with McDonald's SA CFO Zaf Mahomed

“To me business is about integrity, honesty and authenticity," says Zaf Mahomed, chief financial officer at McDonald's South Africa. “What I like about being a chief financial officer is the ability to influence strategic decision making,” says Zaf, when he sits down with CFO South Africa for an exclusive interview. “As CFO you look at the past and the future. What I enjoy the most is using the past to improve the outcome in the future. It is also a continuous balancing act between governance and being a business partner.”

13 October 2015

Becoming a net exporter of talent - Kevin Johnson, CFO Howden Africa

Kevin Johnson has rolled out ERP projects globally and previously held management positions in Australia and the UK within the Howden Group (Part of NYSE listed Colfax). In South Africa he recently had the opportunity to relocate, but decided to extend his stay because “my family likes the country and I felt my job wasn’t finished”. The job over the last few years has been exciting, it has entailed a lot of restructuring and modernization, particularly in the IT space. Because of the lack of growth in the mining sector Johnson – from Northern Ireland – has been part of the team that changed the strategy to focus on the aftermarket, something the CEO and he had done before in Asia Pacific. “Even though our revenue dipped in mining, our profit in this sector went up.”

09 October 2015

South African CFO goes global - an interview with Ray Leclercq (Unit4)

Ray Leclercq, a South African living in the UK and working from the Netherlands, has been with Unit4 as CFO for more than a year now and is working on probably the biggest transformation the company has ever seen. He is loving every minute of it, he says. “My job is to keep the business growing and performing, while simultaneously redesigning the company.” In this interview with CFO South Africa, Leclercq talks about business transformation, the ideal role of finance and how new technology can help finance to be a better business partner.

08 October 2015

African FinTech businesses can conquer the world, says IDM's Benay Sager

"FinTech is a fantastic thing, but lenders must be responsible and conduct proper creditworthiness assessments," says Benay Sager, chief operating officer at Intelligent Debt Management. Benay will be on the panel of experts during our upcoming FinTech Africa event in Cape Town on 20 October. Our journalist Ebrahim Moola spoke to him about FinTech's benefits and barriers. "My hope is that many more people will enjoy access to mobile banking technology and not have to go into a branch."

06 October 2015

Suren Singh, Morvest Business: 'superstar' CFO leading the change

Morvest Business has been through some radical, strategic changes over the last few years and Suren Singh has been leading the charge as CFO. No longer an ICT company, Morvest now positions itself as a global diversified investment holding company à la Bidvest. Singh believes in clarity and says his passion rubs off on others. “I want to know more about my craft and the work I do than anyone has ever done in the history of the world,” he enthuses. As finance chief, Singh says during this interview with CFO South Africa, he is “in an ideal position to bridge the natural tensions between the CEO and the Board”.

29 September 2015

The Crisis Manager, Sasol CFO Bongani Nqwababa

He sure doesn't choose the easiest CFO roles, does Bongani Nqwababa. After a career at firms like Shell Southern Africa, Eskom and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), he is currently tasked with navigating national pride Sasol through a tricky period of low oil prices. Luckily, Bongani has earned his striped as crisis manager par excellence at Amplats, where his calm head was crucial in times of strikes. The new strategy he plotted recently saw Amplats selling off its Rustenburg mines to Sibanye, but Nqwababa has already moved on to other challenges.

22 September 2015

CFOs are myth busters, says retiring Standard Bank CFO Simon Ridley

“As CFOs we need to be trusted advisors, rather than critics,” says Simon Ridley, CFO at the Standard Bank Group and last year’s CFO of the Year. In an exclusive interview with CFO South Africa, Ridley talks about the myth busting responsibility of CFOs and CAs, the charm of over-disclosing, the reason everybody at the bank knows his mother and about being the perfect business partner: “You can’t just throw stones at a problem.”

15 September 2015

Lawrence Weitzman - Guiding Telkom-acquisition BCX through the storm

The acquisition by Telkom, the death of its beloved CEO and the need for a major restructuring have kept Lawrence Weitzman, CFO at Business Connexion (BCX), busier than ever. Twice nominated for the annual CFO Awards, Weitzman has successfully navigated his company through the trials and tribulations and is understandably proud the firm has managed to do well. Managing people in the right way and being a trusted leader is the real reason behind the success, says Weitzman, who comes across as a soft-spoken accountant but has established himself a real leader. “I try and give people space to do their own things and to make mistakes.”

08 September 2015

Eskom's acting CFO Anoj Singh: "Exposure the key to career development"

As one of the quiet men behind Transnet's relative success - for a State-Owned Company (SOC) - CFO Anoj Singh was recently drafted as acting Eskom CFO, joining his Transnet chief Brian Molefe at the battling power utility. Singh started working at Eskom and already messages from Megawatt Park have started to become clearer. Only the future will tell if the top executive, who won 2 CFO Awards in both 2014 and 2015, will save Eskom.

01 September 2015

Unpredictability, transparency, excellence: a chat with RAF CFO Yolande van Biljon

Yolande van Biljon learnt valuable lessons when the IT bubble burst around the turn of the century, grew into a finance leader at Denel and now has the unenviable task of sorting out the cash flow problems at the Road Accident Fund (RAF). Her recipe for success should work for any CFO: “What scares people is uncertainty. It is better to be open, even if you cannot tell people what they want to hear.”

18 August 2015

Triple CFO Award winner Colin Brown raises the bar at Super Group

“You need to understand what world class means and then raise the bar for your own company.” There is no doubt that Colin Brown knows what he is talking about. In his position as Group CFO, he assisted the Group Chief Executive Officer, Peter Mountford, and the current leadership in rescuing the flailing Super Group from the abyss five years ago, turning it into a profitable transport logistics and mobility group once again.

11 August 2015

Spur CFO Ronel van Dijk: tasting, testing and the Spur DNA

She visited our very first CFO event in Cape Town, featured in one of our first interviews way back in 2012 and recently gave some sizzling insight in the international expansion and IT innovation at the Spur Group. This year Ronel van Dijk (favourite food: ribs) was nominated for the 2015 CFO Awards and we spoke to her about her relationship with CEO Pierre van Tonder, her take on coaching, her deep involvement in everything strategy - from testing the equipment to tasting the food - and her passion for the Spur Foundation.

04 August 2015

Denel CFO Fikile Mhlontlo: from bailouts to superiority

Denel CFO Fikile Mhlontlo has been instrumental in cost cutting, efficiency drives and improving financial ratios. Together with the other executives he has changed the state-owned aerospace and defence technology conglomerate from a loss-making public enterprise into a successful, profit-making company with an increasingly international focus. Denel’s international image is now superior, says Mhlontlo. “The strategy of decentralisation and partnering has worked wonders.”

07 July 2015

Fintech - Wizzit CEO Brian Richardson aims at the 'unbanked'

Banking both the world’s unbanked and underbanked population through the use of mobile technology is what Wizzit International hopes to achieve. "Our primary focus is on financial inclusion and empowerment. In the world there are 3 billion people without access to financial services. In Africa there are 700 million people who do not even have a basic bank account,” says Brian Richardson, Wizzit International’s Chief Executive Officer.

02 June 2015

Meet Brett Tromp (Discovery Health), double CFO Award winner 2015

Can someone who introduces a whole new way of reporting - the fourth bottom line - be a CFO? Can somebody who is at the forefront of innovation in the pharmacy industry be a CFO? Can someone with a happy and popular team be a CFO? Or someone who coaches many colleagues and authors articles for magazines for fun? And what about someone who says his church pastor is his example in life or someone who never misses any of his kid's cricket matches? Can he be a CFO?

12 May 2015

Anoj Singh, Transnet: the appeal of the public sector for CAs

“If you want to be a great CFO, you need to be in a position where you can learn to manage a complex organisation,” says Anoj Singh, Group Chief Financial Officer at the dynamic State-Owned Company (SOC) Transnet and winner of two CFO Awards at the annual gala evening on 15 May 2014. In the run up to this year’s CFO of the Year gala, we are publishing a short version of the interview we had with Anoj for the first issue of the brand new CFO Magazine – which will be launched during the CFO conference and awards event on 14 May.

05 May 2015

Colin Brown, Super Group: a CFO that doesn't understand IT is at risk

“I believe that a CFO that doesn’t understand IT is at risk,” says Super Group CFO Colin Brown, whose recipe for success includes his deep understanding of IT, something he believes will aid any CFO tremendously. Brown was the winner of both the Finance Transformation and Strategy Execution award at the inaugural CFO of the Year event in 2014. In the run up to this year’s CFO of the Year gala, we are publishing a short version of the interview we had with Colin for the first issue of the brand new CFO Magazine – which will be launched during the CFO conference and awards event on 14 May.

21 April 2015

Reeza Isaacs, Finance Director Woolworths: enjoying the fast paced retail race

When the Woolworths CEO Ian Moir suggested that they have dinner, Reeza Isaacs didn’t think much of it. He was Managing Partner at services firm EY that audited the Woolworths account and there was a long standing relationship between the organisations. Then came the job offer and Isaacs hasn’t looked back. From closely being involved in the spectacular acquisition of Australian retailer David Jones to getting used to receiving daily updates about trading results, it has been a real roller coaster ride for the FD of Woolworths. We spoke to Isaacs about the importance of mentoring, his proudest moments at EY and his successful shift to the fast pace of retail. “It has been a phenomenal experience.”

10 March 2015

Exclusive: FirstRand's retiring CEO Sizwe Nxasana on CFOs, SAICA, BEE and the economy

Business power house, Chartered Accountant and Fort Hare graduate Sizwe Nxasana (57) started KwaZulu-Natal’s first black audit firm in 1989, listed Telkom at the JSE in 2003 and more than doubled FirstRand’s market cap to R295 billion in 2015, after becoming CEO in 2010. Last week he announced he will step down as CEO in September. In an exclusive interview with CFO South Africa, Nxasana chats about the role of CFOs, SAICA, the economy and BEE. He also has some tips for ambitious CAs.

03 March 2015

Casper Troskie, Liberty: communication is key for modern CFO

“It is very important to understand how investors see the business, because if you don’t listen to them, you might miss important trends,” says Casper Troskie, Financial Director at financial services company Liberty. In an exclusive interview with CFO South Africa Troskie shares valuable advice for ambitious Chartered Accountants, recalls his proudest moments and elaborates on the culture change that Liberty has embarked on. “It has been a great journey, but I see the task only as a third of the way done.”

24 February 2015

CFO of the Week: Steven Whiley (Neotel): great CFOs take risks

“A great CFO needs to have appetite for a certain level of risk,” says Steven Whiley, CFO at Neotel, South Africa’s second fixed line operator. Whiley is currently part if the negotiations for the sale of Neotel to communications giant Vodacom and has earned his stripes during a long and varied career as CFO in several industries. “The best CFOs can look at the balance sheet and understand from there what makes the business tick.”

10 February 2015

CFO of the Week: Nishant Saxena (Cipla Medpro): Finance as business partner and in-house venture capitalist

Last year Nishant Saxena traded his job as CFO of pharmaceutical company Cipla India for a move to Cape Town, where he is now the Chief Financial & Administrative Officer of Cipla Medpro. During the CFO event at the Cape Town Club on 19 February, Nishant will be the key note speaker. He will share some of his experiences in South Africa so far and he will talk about the transition of finance from a bookkeeping role to a true business partner.

03 February 2015

Fanus le Roux, CFO Africa - Middle East, Aurecon: being trusted is the ultimate reward

There are not a lot of South African CFOs who have experienced and contributed to such spectacular corporate growth as Fanus le Roux. When he joined Tshwane-based engineering, management and specialist technical services company Aurecon (then Africon) 20 years ago, it had a turnover of R132 million. These days the company is a global one, with its African operations contributing a R2.6 billion turnover annually. “It has been an exciting journey,” le Roux says modestly.

27 January 2015

CFO of the Week: Jonathan Maehler, ChemSpec: honest information - a recipe for success

“I have always had the philosophy that honesty, which at first, in some cases, may lead to a negative response, in the long run acts as a motivator,” says Jonathan Maehler, Financial Director at ChemSpec, one of Africa's largest paint and coatings companies. He has been guiding the business through a difficult period over the last three and a half years. “Being a CFO requires toughness in these situations, because you have to bring the truth to the fore. Through an intense focus on growing sales and regaining customers, we have found our way up.”

16 January 2015

Lenore Kerrigan, Sales Director OpenText: preparing for the Digital First World

“As companies prepare for a Digital First World, the CFO will play a key role in providing the financial underpinning of this digital transformation, says Lenore Kerrigan, Sales Director for Sub-Saharan Africa at software company OpenText Corporation. “It is controversial, but in many companies CFOs are still mainly reporting on historic facts and figures. The role of modern CFOs, however, is forward looking and includes a very strong focus on understanding risk and financial growth. Our Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Enterprise Information Management (EIM) systems can help them accomplish this.”

13 January 2015

CFO of the Week: Linda Kumbemba, loveLife: being the NGO's 'bad guy'

“If you’re a quick-solutions type person, you tend to look like the bad guy at a non-profit organisation,” says Linda Kumbemba, CFO at loveLife, South Africa's largest HIV prevention initiative for young people. “The environment is slower-paced compared to the corporates, but you have to move and keep agile. It is also great to be part of a successful behavioral change campaign even though its results can’t be measured in the way a CFO would usually want results to be measured.”

06 January 2015

Brooks Mparutsa, Hollard Insurance: success requires vision

“At the age of 16 I made the decision to become a CA and a business leader,” says Brooks Mparutsa, the eloquent Group Chief Financial Officer of Hollard Insurance. His impressive career in the public and private sector has taken him all over the world. “I am following the path I set out for myself. What many people lack is a vision for their lives and careers. I benefited a lot from staying at my audit firm for a number of years and spending years in the public sector – it is a path I definitely recommend.”

09 December 2014

CFO of the Week: Shabeer Khan (DTI): CAs should consider the government

While Shabeer Khan, Chief Financial Officer of the dti, admits to dreaming of becoming an astronaut, a Formula One racing driver and even a fireman as a young boy, he would now like to encourage young Chartered Accountants (CAs) to take the route that he has taken. At the age of 34 he confesses to having considered other career prospects but working for Government was a conscious decision for him and he assures us that nothing compares with the daily fulfillment he gets from his current role. The perception is that working for government can be a risky career choice but Khan says that working for the government provides an opportunity where you can enhance your skills and make a real contribution to your country. Khan currently leads a team of 90 people and was the only CA within the dti when he joined in 2013.

02 December 2014

CFO of the Week: Austin McDonald (Promasidor): choose the consumer over the product

When Austin McDonald became a Chartered Accountant, he was already “the world’s worst engineer”. Although he is a self-professed “maverick” the Finance world has clearly suited him much better than engineering did, especially after he joined the family’s business: Promasidor. Now his CV boasts a successful rescue operation, a handsome R9 billion annual turnover and unequalled insight into African opportunities. “When looking at African countries, be consumer driven and not product driven,” he advises.

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