Interview

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

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.

18 November 2014

CFO of the Week: Clint Capitano, Cunningham Lindsey: take decisions and move on

Decisiveness is one of the most important characteristics of a good CFO, says Clint Capitano, Chief Financial Officer at loss adjusting firm Cunningham Lindsey. “People procrastinate and take a long time to take decisions; being decisive is one of my strongest points. I do research, get the information I need, take a decision and move on. I get things done and live with the consequences of my decisions.”

31 October 2014

Badibanga Promesse, Strategic Account Director CIMA: what CFOs need to know about strategy

“We have grown tremendously in Africa over the last five years,” says Badibanga Promesse, Strategic Account Director- Global Corporate Relations at the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). With evident energy, he tells us about the upcoming shift to online-only exams and the continuous drive to keep the syllabus and short courses relevant. “For CFOs this is crucial, because CIMA is the only accounting qualification that has really embedded strategy in its syllabus for many years.”

21 October 2014

CFO of the Week: Tudor Hungwe, SAMSA: Partnering the CEO makes the job fun

When Tudor Hungwe joined the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) more than five years ago, it was a matter of “getting the accounting right and putting controls in place”. With time though, his role has shifted. “The priorities in my day-to-day job have changed. I find myself working more and more as a partner to the executive team. It is challenging, but it makes the creative juices flow and it is much more fun.”

17 October 2014

Anna Puzone, Zetta Solutions: keep information management simple

“Our biggest message to CFOs is to strive for simplicity,” says Anna Puzone, head of enterprise performance management at information management company Zetta Business Solutions. The two year old firm is part of IS Partners (established in 2001), which implements Microsoft-centered solutions. “Zetta was born out of the need for a client centric approach to technology solutions. Our approach is advisory in nature, as we seek to offer solutions in a simple, cost effective and impactful manner”

13 October 2014

In the News: Travel and IT innovation for Spur's longtime CFO Ronel van Dijk

Last month Spur Group announced that sales across its restaurants have increased by 13.5 percent and that restaurant turnover per annum now exceeds R5.5 billion. In the next year the group wants to open 10 new Spur outlets, 10 Panarottis‚ 7 John Dory’s‚ 8 Captain DoRegos and 6 outlets for The Hussar Grill. We thought that was reason enough to phone longtime CFO Ronel van Dijk and ask her about how her finance team has contributed to this success and the group’s exciting international prospects.

07 October 2014

CFO of the Week: Tsholofelo Molefe, CFO at Eskom: success comes through focus

Her proudest professional moment was the presentation of Eskom’s Annual Results announcement and the financial sustainability plan to key stakeholders, says Tsholefelo Molefe, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at the public electricity utility. “Eskom is always in the spotlight and as it took a while to fill in the Finance Director permanently after my predecessor Paul O’Flaherty left, my very first challenge was to make sure that I pull the Finance team together to remain focused so that we could deliver a successful annual report, which continues to receive a string of awards on Excellence in integrated reporting. I am proud that our integrated report tells our story in a way that helps people understand what the company is about.”

03 October 2014

Andrew Hannington, CEO Grant Thornton: Making a mark after the merger

The merger of two proud audit and advisory firms is not an easy process, but Grant Thornton Johannesburg CEO Andrew Hannington feels his company is in a strong position to face the competition. “We still have two buildings but we have moved half of our people across to promote integration. We are looking at new premises so we can all be under one roof. It hasn't been easy, but tax and audit departments are already working very well together.”

26 September 2014

Miles Fisher, partner at Mazars: passion for audit

“As an auditor you have the opportunity to get exposure to numerous companies and industries,” says Miles Fisher, partner at audit and advisory firm Mazars. Fisher is a Chartered Accountant (SA) with a real passion for auditing and says he is always ‘lecturing’ young talent not to leapfrog into the business environment too soon. “People often don’t realise the massive learning opportunities the position of auditor offers.”

23 September 2014

CFO of the Week: Rofhiwa Irene Singo: I am known as CFO Clean Audit

Popularly referred to as “CFO Clean Audit”, Rofhiwa Irene Singo leads the Finance Department at the Department of Mineral Resources, and has a remarkable story of perseverance to tell. Irene, as she prefers to be called, has been instrumental in turning around the failing financial reporting at three public institutions and prides herself in having achieved these under very difficult conditions. “I always knew that I could do it, hard and smart working paid the price. The name CFO Clean Audit resonates well with me and I like it,” she says.

16 September 2014

CFO of the Week: Jurgens Myburgh, new CFO at Datatec: "I strive to be multidimensional"

“I strive to be a multidimensional CFO,” says Jurgens Myburgh, who recently swapped an impressive career in Corporate Finance at Standard Bank for a role as CFO at information technology group Datatec. In anticipation of learning from more experienced peers, Myburgh has joined CFO South Africa as a platinum member. “It will be great to network with like-minded people, bounce ideas off experienced individuals, gather intelligence on best practice and stay up to date. You can’t afford to operate in a silo.”

26 August 2014

Futuresense-directors Steven Hyslop & Simon Jackson: CFOs needs to understand IT

“I think the role of the CFO is becoming far more interesting and complex,” says Steven Hyslop, founder and director of Futuresense, a high-end implementation firm for Oracle’s Hyperion solutions. “Our work always starts with a CFO wanting a solution,” adds Simon Jackson, his fellow director. Hyslop and Jackson recently spoke to CFO South Africa about the role of the Chief Financial Officer in driving digital transformation.

05 August 2014

Mike Brown, CEO Nedbank: Brilliant CFOs are persuasive

"The best CFOs are intellectually persuasive without being arrogant," says Nedbank CEO Mike Brown, a former Chief Financial Officer himself. In a candid interview with CFO South Africa Brown talks about himself, growth opportunities in the rest of Africa, the importance of small businesses to jumpstart the South African economy and the characteristics that set brilliant CFOs apart from merely solid ones. "You need to be able to read the tea leaves and persuade others about what this means for the future and what the organisation needs to do differently as a result."

17 June 2014

Karl Kumbier, CEO Mercantile Bank: Weight behind entrepreneurs

“The difference between a good and a great CFO is that the latter assists his CEO pro-actively and spends a lot of time in the business,” says Karl Kumbier, Chief Executive Officer of Mercantile Bank. In a candid interview with CFO South Africa he talks about his impressive career in the banking industry and the way his bank can help spur on economic development and employment by providing financial solutions for entrepreneurs.

12 June 2014

Tyrone Soondarjee, Financial Director Sasfin: Carving out your role as CFO

“As a commercially-orientated CFO, I like to play a leading role in business which is why Sasfin is good fit for me. It offers opportunities to broaden my horizons and that is what appeals to me,” says Tyrone Soondarjee, Financial Director at Sasfin bank and the JSE-listed Sasfin Holdings Group. Speaking about the Group, Soondarjee says: “We understand entrepreneurs, because we are entrepreneurial ourselves.”

11 June 2014

Johann Kunz, ?Managing Director WNS Global Services SA: Financial outsourcing in CFO toolkits

Most CFOs will agree that it would be ideal if the talents in their finance team could be freed up to support the leadership with acquisitions, shareholder engagement and other value adding activities. Outsourcing company WNS Global Services offers them exactly that opportunity, says Johann Kunz, Managing Director at WNS in South Africa. “Outsourcing of financial functions is slowly taking off in South Africa and will become a standard part of a CFO’s toolkit,” says Kunz.

06 June 2014

Philip Panaino, Division President South Africa MasterCard: Contributing to a truly inclusive financial environment

“This job has given meaning to driving Financial Inclusion in South Africa and doing good as a corporate citizen,” says Philip Panaino, division president South Africa in International Markets at MasterCard. “It has always been a passion for me to contribute to a truly inclusive financial environment. Here I am able to do that, whilst working for a large multinational. For me it is a perfect marriage, the best of two worlds.”

04 June 2014

Mteto Nyati, Managing Director Microsoft South Africa: Connecting the next billion

“There are still billions of people that have not been touched by technology. That is where our enormous potential lies,” says Mteto Nyati, Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa. “Technology is not an end goal; it is all about what it can do to help humanity reach its potential.” As the famous IT-company shifts from being a software company to a device and cloud company, Nyati is full of ambition and enthusiasm about opportunities in South Africa.

03 June 2014

Pieter Bensch, Vice President Oracle South Africa: Rewarding innovative CFOs

Chief Financial Officers are important stakeholders for technology firm Oracle, so it is no surprise that Pieter Bensch, Vice President at Oracle South Africa, has a keen interest in these professionals. Bensch has been involved in various CFO South Africa events and was one of the jury members for the inaugural CFO Awards. When adjudicating the candidates Bensch specifically looked for executives who “run a world class business” and “show innovative spirit”, he says.

27 May 2014

Gregory Nott, Director Werksmans Attorneys: Follow the trends, not the headlines

When somebody with experience and a great deal of insight speaks positively about South Africa, it makes a lasting impression. Especially when he is a former Global Lawyer of the Year, argued for the release of political prisoners during apartheid, defended the dignity of a number of sports heroes and has been praised for brokering successful deals in the energy sector. Such a person is Gregory Nott, who joined Werksmans Attorneys in 2012 to develop the Africa practice.

13 May 2014

Bikash Prasad, CFO South and East Africa at Olam International: Contributing to Africa's agricultural future

“Africa should be a net food exporter, but it is a net importer at the moment,” says Bikash Prasad, CFO South and East Africa at Olam International, a Singapore-headquartered integrated supply chain managing firm and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients. The Durban-based Prasad has a passion for the continent. “We want to play an important role in the growth of Africa,” he says.

23 April 2014

Deon Fredericks, Acting CFO at Telkom: Learning from each other

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” says Deon Fredericks, Acting Chief Financial Officer at Telkom, Africa's largest integrated communications company. Fredericks joined the then state-owned landline monopolist in 1993 as a senior manager in internal audit and has worked himself up the finance ladder in an admirable fashion. Fredericks says he fully supports CFO South Africa’s mission to connect the country’s finance leaders. “CFOs are starting to play a more significant role, specifically on strategy. It is very valuable to learn from each other.”

06 April 2014

CFO Awards jury interviews CFOs Discovery, JSE, Transnet, PSG and Postbank

The CFO Awards jury interviewed a number of prominent Chief Financial Officers in the last few days, all of whom have been nominated for the prestigious awards. On Thursday Brett Tromp (Discovery Health), Aarti Takoordeen (JSE Limited) and Anoj Singh (Transnet) were the ones making their case and on Friday Wynand Greeff (PSG Group) and Nicky Dewar (Postbank) answered the questions from the jury. Among the jury members involved in the interviews were

02 April 2014

CFO Awards jury interviews CFO of Business Connexion

On Wednesday the jury for the inaugural CFO Awards resumed its interviewing duties with a visit to the Midrand offices of IT outsourcing company Business Connexion. Jury members Victor Sekese (CEO at SizweNtsalubaGobodo) and Professor Ben Marx (University of Johannesburg) chatted to Lawrence Weitzman, CFO of the Business Connexion Group since September 2011. It was fascinating to hear how Weitzman attributed most of his successes to his team and his colleagues in the leadership of the company.

27 March 2014

Lesley Plaistowe, Partner Financial Services at IBM: CFOs should mine their unstructured data

“CFOs are very familiar with structured data, because that is what they work with every day,” says Lesley Plaistowe, Partner Financial Services at technology firm IBM. “What they need to know more about is unstructured data: information from phone conversations, emails, social platforms, the weather report and much more. Often a lot of operational data is hidden, but can be found when technology mines your unstructured data.”

14 March 2014

CFO Awards jury interviews MiX Telematics CFO Megan Pydigadu

On Friday the jury of the CFO Awards 2014 interviewed Megan Pydigadu, Group Financial Director at MiX Telematics, an incredible South African success story which is now listed on both the JSE and the New York Stock Exchange. With her CEO working from Miami, Florida, Pydigadu works from the MiX Telematics head office in Midrand, playing the crucial role of finance leader at this company, a leading global provider of fleet and mobile asset management solutions.

12 March 2014

Jury members CFO Awards interview Simon Ridley, FD at the Standard Bank Group

Yet another top CFO was interviewed on Wednesday as part of the jury process for the 2014 CFO Awards. Simon Ridley, Financial Director at the Standard Bank Group, has been a CFO for a quarter of a century - mainly with Absa and Standard Bank. He was quizzed about his challenges and successes by two jury members, both leading figures in the South African business world in their own right: CEO Victor Sekese of fast-growing accounting firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo and Rob Otty, Managing Director of Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa - Africa Law Firm of the Year 2012.

11 March 2014

CFO Awards jury interviews CFOs of AfroCentric, Howden and Eqstra

Jury members of the 2014 CFO Awards on Tuesday interviewed three talented gentlemen, who have made a name for themselves as CFO. The interview series will inform detailed reports that will help the impressive team of jury members to choose the winners from a select list of nominated CFOs. The 7 prestigious CFO Awards will be handed out to the winners during a black tie event on May 15 at the beautiful Summer Place in Johannesburg. For more information visit cfoawards.co.za

10 March 2014

CFO Awards jury starts interview process with the CFOs of Invicta and PPC

On Monday interviews with two of South Africa's best CFOs officially kicked off the interview process to decide who wins this year's inaugural CFO Awards. Over the next two months an impressive team of jury members will chat to nominated CFOs according to a pre-determined list of questions. The interviews will form the basis for their jury reports and eventually for the decision who wins the 7 prestigious CFO Awards. The awards will be handed out to the winners during a black tie event on May 15 at the beautiful Summer Place in Johannesburg. For more information visit cfoawards.co.za

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