Interview

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

27 January 2014

Nicky Dewar, CFO of Post Bank: Testing the boundaries

“Don’t be afraid to get boxed in by going for opportunities as they present themselves,” says Nicky Dewar, CFO Post Bank at the South African Post Office. “If I look at my career, especially in the beginning, I did not know what to do,” says Dewar, when asked what she would advise young accountants. “But I have noticed that all experiences build on the others – nothing goes to waste. You should not be worried that you will be limited if you choose a certain direction. Don’t worry and just go for it.”

04 December 2013

Dikeledi Nakene, CFO Palabora Mining Company: Resist temptation of short-term gains

Surround yourself with people that encourage you, believe in yourself and resist the temptation of lucrative offers before finishing your degree or articles. That is some of the great advice that Dikeledi Nakene, CFO at Palabora Mining Company Limited, has for young, aspiring talents in the finance world. “I was born and bred in Limpopo province in Ga- Modjadji not far from Phalaborwa and look at me now. I want to tell local people, especially village girls, that everything is possible!”

03 December 2013

Dick Borsboom, Regional CFO Dangote Industries: Employees key to success

“Employees are the key to success in every company,” says Dick Borsboom, the Nigeria-based Regional CFO for Dangote Industries in East and Southern Africa. The Dutch national is an experienced finance leader and joined cement firm Dangote in August 2012 to broaden his horizons even further. Borsboom has a lot of great tips for Nigerian and other African CFOs, many of them boiling down to engaging staff in decision making. “Negative management – do this or else – is something we should move away from.”

18 November 2013

David Gleason, Owner of DealMakers Magazine: There are deals cooking

“There are several merger and acquisition deals on the table at the moment,” says Business Day columnist David Gleason, who publishes the quarterly M&A magazine DealMakers. He says those deals are being “worked on and discussed”, but they’re “cooking in the pot for now” because of the political uncertainty in South Africa. “We have to get through the elections and see what sort of cabinet we will get. If it is a team of reasonable people, it will unlock a lot of energy for the economy.”

28 October 2013

Eugene Hangwani Lufhugu, CFO at Rand Mutual Assurance: Thinking about growth

While most CFOs spend their days maximizing profit and fighting competitors, Eugene Lufhugu’s primary role is “to make sure our beneficiaries are taken care of and focusing on the long term sustainability of the Group”. However, just like his peers, the CFO of Rand Mutual Assurance sees cost management as one of his most important briefs. “I worked for FNB and Toyota Tsutso Africa, but I would not say I miss profit driven commercial business. I joined Rand Mutual when the company just started to think about growth and there are lots of exciting things happening.”

22 October 2013

Professor Deon Rossouw, CEO of EthicsSA: Ethical culture still lacking

Although awareness about ethical business practices has increased tremendously over the last few years, most South African companies, departments and organizations are still struggling to translate that into an ethical culture. “CFOs need to be aware that this needs to change,” says Professor Deon Rossouw, CEO of The Ethics Institute of South Africa (EthicsSA). “Because the financial cost of unethical behaviour is enormous.”

14 October 2013

Steven Waugh, Group CFO TBWA: The virtues of discipline

“Managing growth is a lot of fun, but also a lot of work,” says Steven Waugh, Group CFO at Johannesburg-based advertising group TBWA. The Scottish trained Chartered Accountant worked in London for most of his career and is therefore in an excellent position to assess where South Africa is currently at. So what about B-BBEE, minority shareholders and cost cutting? And are our accountants really as brilliant as they think they are? Waugh started his career in the music and film industry at Time Warner and BMG Music. “That gave me a very good grounding, because a record company has everything: production, marketing, publishing and challenging people.” However, salaries for finance professionals in the industry were “terrible”, according to the Scotsman. “So it was time to grow up and move on.” For eight years Waugh was the CFO of a group of digital and marketing technology agencies within the advertising and marketing holding company Omnicom. “We were at the forefront of the digital revolution with growth of crazy – 30 to 40 percent per year.” It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, Waugh recalls. “In our industry it is all about staff target levels. If you hire to far behind the curve, you make good margins but it’s not sustainable. If you hire ahead of revenues, it’s too expensive. So do you hire permanently? Do you use freelancers? You have to continuously balance the quality of your staff – and its skills set –with the type of contracts you have. The hire/fire routine is definitely one of the most difficult things to get right.” Although it’s common knowledge these days that great CFOs and Finance Directors do much more than crunching numbers, this is particularly true in the advertising and marketing world, says Waugh. “The accounting itself is not too challenging, but you have to get far more involved in the operations of the agency,– legal, IT, building administration and HR. You are a generalist, tapped into the commercial side of the business. Often finance people run the sales meetings, which sounds bizarre. We make sure the meetings happen, actions are followed up, send out a warning if revenues are dropping off, and release funds if additional staff is required on new wins. We make sure the business ticks. We’re the discipline in the company.” Waugh resigned and came to South Africa in 2011, when his wife was offered a job at Old Mutual. “It was a huge risk for me,” he says. After a short stint at Omnicom affiliate Interbrand Sampson South Africa and a voluntary project with an enterprise development fund for young black entrepreneurs, Waugh found his feet at TBWA. “It’s been great and similar to some extent to my previous time with Omnicom, but there are more regional aspects. We deal with affiliates in the rest of Africa and South Africa itself is much more regionalised than the UK. My senior team is more spread out and I travel more, which I had to get used to.” Obviously Waugh has noticed some marked differences with London, like South Africa’s onerous labour laws, the challenges of dealing with SARS and the amount of paperwork required to bring on new clients and suppliers. “I found all the red tape and administration quite frustrating. There is so much paperwork and in the early days of working in South Africa, little things like every page on every agreement requiring a signature drove me quite mad. I was definitely worth avoiding some days” The Scotsman was also hired to “bring a more commercial dynamic to the finance team”, he explains. “The quality of accountants is very good, but they often just provide numbers for the senior management to interpret. It is my focus to get them to be more commercial and I strongly believe that this increases job satisfaction and performance.” Procurement personnel now play a much bigger role in the marketing divisions of large clients than in the last few years and it has a bearing on agencies like TBWA. ”Sometimes the role procurement plays is a positive one, especially where they ensure that marketing departments operate in accordance with processes that we have agreed, but the time it takes to negotiate the contract can slows things down considerably. It can take many months to get fees finalised and the initial excitement on the client win can be dampened during the elongated process. Procurement has also required agencies to be focused on cost cutting. “It is the name of the game in South Africa, like it became in London, says Waugh. “Procurement personnel come to me and say they want 10 percent more work output for 30 percent less cost. And that has actually happened three times to me already this year. A huge part of what I do is to find cost savings, ensure that we buy efficiently for our clients, and pass on cost savings whenever possible. Every cost is under the spotlight and we are constantly monitoring our productivity and effectiveness.” Waugh says he has helped the company to slow down at the right moments. “I am working closely with senior management to ensure that we don’t make fast decisions that look good initially but don’t fit in the medium to long term plans.” Waugh is enjoying the entrepreneurial spirit of South Africans (and of course the weather). He’s been intrigued by ownership structures in the country, often involving minority shares for founders or B-BBEE trusts. “Black empowerment is absolutely key for business, but often very challenging and complicated. The challenge in the marketing industry is that there is a small pool of black talent, which leads to issues of affordability and the loss of talent that you have trained.” It has helped Waugh to come in as an outsider, he says. “Being a foreigner can be positive, especially when it comes to implementing transformation. I have no axe to grind and look neutrally at the process. I am actively working towards a black finance professional to take over from me as Group CFO and I have brought in new software to track every month our B-BEEE score and how key decisions, especially hiring decisions affect our score. We have tough targets to improve our scorecard ahead of the change in the codes and are embedding them into all areas of the organisation. This is one of the projects that I am most proud of.”

10 October 2013

Lucas Ramagaga, CFO Total Client Services: Affecting people's lives

“What we do as finance directors and chief financial officers affects people’s lives,” says Lucas Orapeleng Ramagaga, 32-year old CFO at Total Client Services. “We deal with shareholders, but also clients, suppliers and our own employees – it is a big responsibility.” Having made short work of the corporate ladder, Ramagaga does not shy away from the task. “I have a high appetite for growth, so a future role as CEO, chairman doesn’t scare me – it will just be an opportunity to affect even more lives.”

26 September 2013

Barry Doran, CFO G4S Africa: Believing in human capital

“For a CFO, working in Africa is almost like a Rubik’s cube, it is a challenge but it’s very rewarding,” says Barry Doran, Finance Director for Africa at security firm G4S, the largest private employer on the continent. “The development opportunities are very rewarding professionally and it’s great to see cities changing. The last time I was in Lagos I suddenly saw traffic lights where there were never any.”

19 September 2013

Francois Reyneke, Financial Director Waltons: The challenge of moving into the cloud

“There should always be a challenge in life. Because of the continuous changes at my company, I have always been able to find those challenges internally,” says Francois Reyneke. The Group Financial Director at office products supplier, Waltons, is not a typical CFO type, who changes jobs every few years. Working for the same firm since 1995, he is currently in the middle of one of his greatest challenges to date: the switch from a distributive replicated ERP system with servers at all 80 branches to a centralized ERP system through a Waltons private cloud.

03 September 2013

Kirsten Mocke, Finance Director EMC: what do the numbers mean?

With nearly 18 years of experience as a finance expert in the IT world, Kirsten Mocke has acquired a good grasp of the strengths and weaknesses in the management of South African IT firms. Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) “is often very high”, sales processes “could be more refined and defined” and forecasting is not taken seriously enough. “Many people can generate numbers.- I always say to my staff: don’t give me numbers, but tell me what the numbers mean.”

28 August 2013

Aarti Takoordeen, CFO JSE Limited: A holistic approach to growth

"I feel there is untapped innovation in the finance world,” says Aarti Takoordeen, who became the CFO of Africa’s leading stock exchange, JSE Limited, in February this year. While Takoordeen may only be 32 year’s old, she has gained extensive experience financial management. “I studied to be a Chartered Accountant as I wanted to manage a business but could not afford to start my own. My career goal is to become a CEO of a business one day,” she says.

27 August 2013

Abigail Brooks, Trustco: the importance of soft skills and confidence

“I needed a bigger challenge,” says Abigail Brooks, Financial Controller at Trustco Financial Services since May 2013. The Namibian firm has recently moved into South Africa and has ambitions to roll out its innovative microfinance and insurance products into the rest of the continent as well. Brooks is based in Johannesburg and will be overseeing the financial department. “What is crucial for this position is soft skills and confidence,” she says.

23 August 2013

Farid Vania, Group Finance Manager SMEC SA: patience to develop people

Personality, many CFOs nowadays proclaim, is just as important as accounting acumen. But don’t make the mistake of sending everyone who makes a flat impression in a first job interview packing, implores Farid Vania, Group Finance Manager at SMEC SA. “I interview a lot of finance people with a thousand degrees, who – despite this but because of their background – initially don’t come across as very dynamic,” he says. “But if you let them go and they end up at small enterprises they might not develop at all – and developing people is one of the things I enjoy the most.”

23 August 2013

Jan van den Handel, Group Finance Manager Business Connexion: balancing risk in Africa

Exposure to political uncertainty and ever changing exchange rates make it tricky to run – let alone start – a sustainable business in Africa. But, although the African market is difficult to get into, it’s the next destination, even though the risks are considerable. “If we want to grow, that is where we have to go,” says Jan van den Handel, Group Finance Manager: International Operations at Business Connexion.

20 August 2013

Philip Nottingham, CFO a.b.e. Construction Chemicals: Business processes before ERP

“First you have to make sure that your business processes are robust and world class, only after that does it make sense to invest in a brand new, upgraded or different ERP system,” says Philip Nottingham. Half a year ago the experienced finance expert was hired as CFO by a.b.e. Construction Chemicals and one of his main tasks was to roll out more efficient automation. “There was a general idea that our systems were old, but there was generally more information available than we realised. That is why I have delayed the investment in a new ERP for now.”

02 August 2013

Alwyn Smith, Group Financial Manager, FPT: "What you want to achieve will come in time."

Alwyn Smith is an Excel man through and through. No fancy informatics programmes for him; this CA prefers to do things manually. “I love Excel so I try to automate as much as possible to pull numbers from other sources. I’ve done courses in Visual Basic (the back end of Excel) and in writing macros, and so have extensive training of Excel.” New Technology This does not mean Alwyn is not interested in new technology. On the contrary, the Group Financial Manager looks forward to how innovations can impact at the coalface. “Driving technology forward and evolving business, especially through mobile technology is also part of the Group Financial Manager’s role. For example, salesmen can go to customers and do sales orders at premises and upload to ERP. Using tablets, they could get sign-off right there with the customer.”

29 July 2013

Werner Barnard, Mondel?z International: People skills make the difference

“People skills are what set good and bad leaders apart,” says Werner Barnard, Finance Business Lead: Integrated Supply Chain at Mondel?z International. Barnard is an ambitious man, a business leader of the type that believes a strong finance background is a stepping stone to even greater things. Barnard has just landed at snack company Mondel?z, formerly known as Kraft Foods, after a career that saw him fulfil roles in the chicken processing industry and telecoms. Mondel?z is an international firm with 62 brands under its wings, including Cadbury’s chocolate, Jacobs, Tuc and Stimorol. The company has five factories in Africa: one in Port Elizabeth (chocolate), Namibia (‘seasonal’ chocolate), Swaziland (bubblegum, Halls and Eclairs), Botswana (chewing gum) and Kenya (drinking chocolate). “There is massive growth potential in Africa, so that makes it very exciting.”

19 July 2013

Chris Povall, CFO Accéntuate: Doing more with less

“The role of CFOs in organisations has not changed as much as some people like to think it has,” says Chris Povall, Chief Financial Officer at Accéntuate Limited, a listed South African company that specializes in vinyl, laminate and wooden floors, chemicals for the flooring industry and a broad range of cleaning chemicals. Povall is a highly experienced finance leader, having held influential positions at Impala Platinum, Times Media, Chemical Services and Protea Chemicals. “What has changed is the technical and compliance side of the job: rules, regulations, IFRS… there are more and more regulations and standards to comply with. Each day we have to do more with less.”

19 July 2013

Michael van Straten, Financial Director Servest Marine: "Treat one with respect and you will get it back."

Michael van Straten begins our interview with a walking tour of Servest Marine’s operations at Cape Town harbour. Seeing him greet dock workers by name and check on the boats of “the competition”, I’m reminded of my first feeling when I met Michael at the CFO Café some months previous – here was someone who knows his place in the world and makes one feel instantly at ease. Not bad for a man who until last year was working for one of the largest multi-nationals in the world….

12 July 2013

Humphrey Borkum, Chairman JSE Limited: Extraordinary accomplishments since democracy

“A listing at the stock exchange is still the best way to raise capital,” says Humphrey Borkum. It’s something you would expect the chairman of JSE Limited, the largest stock exchange in Africa, to say, but not a lot of CFOs have felt like taking their business public lately. “When companies get bigger though, these considerations become inevitable,” says Borkum. “I believe there will be a number of new big JSE listings in the future.”

09 July 2013

Alex van der Watt, University of Johannesburg & SAICA: Grooming the CFOs of the future

“It is very exciting to work with the new generation,” says Alex van der Watt, auditing lecturer, Head of the Department of Accountancy at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and education specialist on the board of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). “When I studied we more or less just accepted what professors said. There is a new generation now, which is challenging the way things are. They are the CFOs of the future.”

25 April 2013

Rolam Ait Si Birouk, CFO Ropetec: African challenges are cash, skills and tax

“NETWORKING is very, very important for finance professionals who are working in Africa,” says Rolam Ait Si Birouk. As CFO of Cape Town-based company Ropetec, which does maintenance and inspection work in the oil and gas industry, Rolam has a lot of experience working in countries like Angola, Ghana and Congo. “We are all facing the same challenges in these markets and it will be great to hear how other people find solutions to these challenges.”

23 April 2013

Bright Amisi, Group Finance Manager at SABS: `Risk management is going to become a key part of the CFO portfolio`

Bright Amisi (37) has been the Group Finance Manager of the SABS, a leading conformity assessment industry player, since 2008. SABS is the largest conformity assessment body in Africa and is the official publisher of South African National Standards (SANS) used across all sectors of the economy. He thinks the most challenging about his position are that the non-finance issues demand a lot of his time. He doesn’t always sit in his office worrying about the numbers; He is frequently out there trying to enable the business to be successful. Everybody wants advice before making decisions. Before joining SABS Bright was employed by the Development Bank of South Africa as the GM: Finance and Administration - NEPAD for three years. Bright has also previously served as the Finance Director of Africare Zimbabwe, Head of Finance and Administration for the Red Cross in Zimbabwe and as an Auditor. He holds an MCom (Accounting), BSc (Hons) and is an Associate member of ACCA, CIMA and CIS. Bright is married to Diana with four kids and is a Formula One fanatic! Which skills do you think a finance professional should master to be successful in his/her work? A finance professional needs knowledge of accounting standards (IFRS), tax, ICT systems and systems integration, as well as risk management.

19 April 2013

Ian Graham, CFO of GE Oil & Gas Africa & GE Southern Africa: "South Africa can be a launch pad for the continent"

“South Africa has the unique opportunity to be a launch pad for the whole of Southern Africa and the rest of the continent,” says Ian Graham, CFO of GE Oil & Gas Africa & GE Southern Africa. As part of the huge American multinational company General Electric, GE is quickly growing its operations in Africa. There are huge opportunities in countries like Angola, Mozambique and Zambia,” says Ian. “If South Africa can leverage this, they can also minimize their exposure to slower economies like Europe.”

14 April 2013

Callen Hodgskiss, HPCA: opportunities for finance talents at NGOs

“FOLLOW what you value,” is the advice of Callen Hodgskiss. As CFO of the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa (HPCA) he knows what he is talking about. “I hope young financial professionals realize there are a lot of opportunities in the NGO sector. It is a dynamic environment and there is a lot that you can contribute. There is growing need for qualified people at NGOs and the salaries are becoming more and more market related.”

11 April 2013

Brett Tromp, CFO at Discovery Health: the softer side of a CFO

“FIRSTLY, always do more than your job description tells you to, so people will recognize your value.” The advice could sound gratuitous coming from anyone else, but if anybody can shed a light on a successful career for young finance professionals it must be Brett Tromp. “Secondly,” he says, “create a market for yourself in your organisation. Find executives to talk to and establish a brand of knowledge and trust. Those two things can be the big secret to a successful career and quickly moving up the ladder.”

09 April 2013

Grant Scrutton, Finance Director Winhold Limited; `It is never boring, never the same, never "done"`

Grant Scrutton is Finance director of Winhold Limited which is a JSE-listed holding company with its main investments being in its subsidiaries, Gundle Limited and Inmins Limited. Gundle manufactures polyethylene bags, construction sheeting, consumer and industrial packaging, agricultural film and dam linings and distributes to the agricultural, chemical, construction, food processing, industrial and consumer markets, as well as installing dam linings in sub-Sahara Africa. Inmins comprises 19 strategically located operations servicing the mining and industrial sectors with a wide range of consumable and maintenance products, and includes divisions specialising in hose, mining pipe systems, chain and sprocket systems and conveyor belting.

15 March 2013

Jo-Ann Pohl, CFO Standard Chartered Bank: Creating a CFO buddy system

A buddy system in which young CFOs get paired with experienced counterparts could greatly benefit the South African financial world. It is one of the many ideas that occupy the mind of Jo-Ann Pohl, the energetic and enthusiastic CFO of Standard Chartered Bank. On Friday Pohl met with Alex van Groningen and Melle Eijckelhoff of networking platform CFO SA to discuss the need and opportunities for more interaction between top financial professionals.

21 January 2013

Sizwe Nkosi, CFO, Metmar Limited: `CFOs will need to improve their leading from the front and tap into the entrepreneurial sphere of their brains to remain relevant.`

Sizwe Nkosi is CFO of Metmar Limited, which has two main divisions: trading in commodities and investing in resource projects and companies. The commodities trading division focusses on international trading of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastic products and chemicals. The investment division invests in mining and minerals projects and companies with the main intention to secure long term cost effective off-take agreements to be traded by the trading division. The main office of the company is in Bryanston with satellite offices in Boksburg, Germiston, Durban and Zimbabwe. Metmar Limited is listed on the main board of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

26 November 2012

Alan Winde - Ministry of Finance, Economic Development & Tourism: "There is definitely room for more co-operation between government and companies"

Alan Winde has been a member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature since 1999. During his first term, he served as Western Cape Provincial Finance Chairman and Executive Committee Member with the Democratic Party. Prior to being re-elected in April 2009, he served as the Chief Whip of the Official Opposition in the Western Cape, as DA Spokesperson on Environment and Planning and as Deputy DA Spokesperson on Economic Development and Tourism.

22 October 2012

Bonface Ndawala - Group Financial Control Executive Globacom: `Key issues in the industry of finance at the moment would be the impact of the debt crisis in Europe and America`

The fastest growing telecommunication company in sub-Saharan Africa, Globacom provides world class cutting edge technology and designs telecom solutions to suit the needs of various publics, irrespective of size. As a company, Globacom recently made history as the first single company to build an $800 million high-capacity fiber-optic cable, known as Glo-1. It is the first successful submarine cable from the United Kingdom to Nigeria; and it will decrease telecom costs and provide very reliable bandwidth to all the cities connected to the cable.

12 October 2012

André Dippenaar - CFO BioTherm Energy: "It's adapt or die"

Founded in 2003, BioTherm Energy Proprietary Limited (BTE) is one of South Africa’s first independent power producers (IPP). In October 2007, BTE commissioned its 4.2 MW Biogas Project at the PetroSA refinery in Mosselbay in the Eastern Cape Province. This project was the first non-recourse project financed IPP deal to be concluded in South Africa. This project was also the first project to successfully register and monetise carbon credits in South Africa.

20 September 2012

Anoj Singh - CFO Transnet: "The CFO is playing the role of Chief Strategy Officer"

Transnet is the largest and most crucial part of the freight logistics chain that delivers goods to each and every South African. The company is fully owned by the South African government but operates as a corporate entity aimed at both supporting and contributing to the country’s freight logistics network. It aims at developing South African industry, reducing the cost of doing business, while at the same time operating efficiently and profitably. Transnet employs 60,000 people and had a yearly turnover (for the financial year to March 31 2012) of R45 billion.

02 September 2012

Bikash Prasad - CFO Olam International (East & South Africa): "Forecasting and budgeting are more crucial than ever"

Bikash is qualified member and rank holder of the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of India, a member of Institute of Management Accountants, USA, MBA in Finance and DBF from the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI). He has been awarded by the Finance Minister in India for top rank in the examination of the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of India. He is a recipient of government scholarship for the highest marks in board exams. He has also received scholarship from ICFAI for academic excellence.

27 August 2012

Frikkie Kotzee - CFO Kumba Iron Ore: "CFOs have had to switch their focus more to efficiency and cost control"

Kumba Iron Ore Limited is a leading value-adding supplier of high quality iron ore to the global steel industry. Kumba is a member of the Anglo American plc group, of which three of its mining businesses are based in South Africa: Platinum, Kumba Iron Ore and Thermal Coal. Kumba Iron Ore employs over 6300 people, of which nearly 75 work at the financial department of the company. The company was listed on JSE in November 2006.

06 August 2012

Ted Baxter - CFO Norton Rose: "Not forecasting and budgeting is simply burying your head in the sand like an ostrich"

Ted Baxter, CFO of Norton Rose South Africa, was educated in Harare, Zimbabwe and came to South Africa in 1982. After a short period in the banking industry with Nedcor, he joined a manufacturing company in the accounts dept and within 2 years became financial accountant. It was at this time that he embarked on his studies to become a Chartered Secretary and Administrator (A.C.I.S.) and qualified in 1988, being registered in United Kingdom and South Africa. He is also registered as a public practitioner with the Institute. Ted joined the Boart Longyear International Group, head office, and became the group's assistant company secretary, before being appointed as Admin Manager & a divisional director at Boart Longyear Research Centre, responsible for their financial and administrative affairs. The work was extremely varied exposing Ted to the world of technology and its application in business, the setting up of time and billing, special projects, costing systems and converting research from a cost centre to a profit centre, obtaining joint funding from the CSIR and the establishment of a research centre in Ireland through obtaining financing from the Irish government and the negotiation of tax incentives. Ted sat on a number of committees in the worldwide group including finance & internal audits and IT.

20 July 2012

Ronel van Dijk - CFO Spur Group: "Shortly after I took over I changed the way we report on our international businesses. That benefited us"

Ronel van Dijk, CFO of Spur Group, has a B.Rek (Hons) from the University of Stellenbosch. She qualified as a CA(SA) in December 1997 and thereafter spent a year working in the London office of Arthur Andersen & Co. She returned to Cape Town as audit manager with the firm. Ronel joined Spur head office as group financial manager in January 2003. In January 2005, Ronel was appointed as chief financial officer and company secretary, and she was appointed to the board in September 2006.

16 July 2012

Zunaid Bulbulia - CFO MTN South Africa: `It has become a lot more stressful`

"I see the CFO becoming more strategic and crucial to overall business success than ever before; I already find myself playing a constructive role in parts of the business that were the exclusive domains of the functional executives concerned only a few short years ago." Zunaid Bulbilia, CFO of MTN South Africa, a company he joined prior to its commercial launch in January 1994 definitely feels it has become 'a lot more stressful'.

03 July 2012

Mariette Ebersohn - CFO Mango Airlines: `Goodbye bean-counter, hello unpredictability`

"The CFO position was traditionally a “bean-counting” job primarily responsible for various accounting, reporting and budgeting exercises. Nowadays, the role is much more unpredictable with a number of additional expectations raised beyond traditional technical accounting and regulatory field of expertise." After having interviewed a great number of male CFOs, we are proud to introduce to you the first female CFO in our series. We wonder - would she have a different view on the industry, her role, the world? We'll find out. Please meet Mariette Ebersohn, CFO of Mango Airlines - South Africa’s leading low-cost airline. The airline was launched on 30 October 2006 with bookings going on sale at midnight on the same date; its first flight took place only two weeks later. Mariette joined Mango’s team in August 2008.

28 June 2012

Richard Farber, CFO Discovery: "They don't teach you how to deal with people at university"

“I make a special effort to meet all new staff, within Discovery’s Finance division, before they are hired. Partly because I want to personally feel if they are ‘good’ new employees, but also because I find it very important that they feel welcome in the company. The fact that the CFO has taken out the time especially to meet them, contributes greatly to that sense of ‘feeling at home’.” Richard Farber, CFO of Discovery, is a firm believer of the open-door culture that is very vivid in Discovery. “If people have a problem, I want them to know my door is always open – and that my being the CFO does not form a barrier for stepping into my room and talking to me.”

25 June 2012

Craig Tingle - CFO Mediclinic: "I trust you. Don't drop me"

“Giving people and managers more power has proved very beneficial to the company.” Craig Tingle has a firm belief in giving people more accountability and responsibility, for them and the company to grow simultaneously. Craig (53) currently holds the position of Chief Financial Officer of Mediclinic International, the sixth largest listed private hospital group in the world with operations in South Africa, Namibia, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. It is supported by 21,000 staff members internationally.

20 June 2012

Pieter de Jager - CFO Andulela Investment Holdings: "I don't count my chickens before they hatch"

“Financial management in the manufacturing space is the most technically challenging arena for finance professionals,” says Pieter de Jager, Chief Financial Officer of Andulela Investment Holdings. He joined the board of Andulela Investment Holdings as CFO in 2008. Andulela is an investment holding company listed on the Equity Investment Instruments sector of the main board of the JSE Limited. The company employs over 550 people and seeks to hold primarily South African strategic investments in mining and metals companies.

15 June 2012

Henk Engelbrecht - CFO StratCorp: "The CFO needs to be a strategic thinker who understands the relationship between all the components of a business, its environment and the broader economy"

Henk Engelbrecht has only been acting as Group Financial Director of StratCorp since March 2011. It has been an interesting time so far. “I am a firm believer in not accepting the status quo and to always look at every aspect of the business critically to establish if there are better and more efficient ways of doing business.”

06 June 2012

Ian Blackie - CFO Wesgro: "Advances in technology will put even more pressure on the CFO"

“I would expect people to be able to tell me why they are doing something in a certain way. If the answer is “because we’ve always done it that way”, it really tells me a lot about that person and their attitude towards the company and their work.” Ian Blackie, CFO of Wesgro, was initially placed at Wesgro in November 2010 by Deloitte one a short term contract. He calls himself ‘very fortunate’ to have been offered the position of CFO of the company, as he had been looking for an opportunity to move to the Western Cape for some time already. When he was officially appointed CFO, he withheld from making any drastic changes thus far.

23 May 2012

Warren Prinsloo - CFO Jasco: "Either step up and play your part or step down"

"We have to ask ourselves how we as a country can compete with countries like South Korea and other Asian Tigers. Frankly, I don’t think we can," says Warren Prinsloo (39), CFO of Jasco Group. Warren is a qualified Chartered Accountant (SA) and has been a registered member of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants since 1999. He is also a member of the Institute of Directors South Africa and has more than twelve years of experience in finance and commerce. He completed his B.Com at Wits University in 2004 followed by his B.Acc in 2005. He passed the Board exam in 2006 and then completed his articles before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1998.

18 May 2012

Jannie Serfontein - CFO Eqstra: "A good CFO is able to see in the figures that which is not immediately obvious to others`

"Don't change something when it's working." That is exactly why Jannie Serfontein did not make any radical changes once he was appointed as CFO of Eqstra Holdings in January 2011. After completing his studies at the University of Pretoria, he qualified as a chartered accountant in 1998. He started his career at Deloitte & Touche in 1999 and spent two years in the United States of America in Deloitte & Touche’s Washington DC practice as part of their global development programme.

18 April 2012

Philippe Georges - CFO Procter & Gamble: `Relationships with distributors not the smoothest`

It was only a few months ago when French Philippe Georges moved to Cape Town. After having lived and worked in several European countries for the past years, this was quite a change of scenery. Philippe was appointed Finance Director for Procter & Gamble in South and East Africa as of January 2012. Although he has only been installed in the position for three months, he already noticed differences between South Africa and Europe. “I find that the relationship between trade and manufacture that’s linked to our industry is less smooth in South Africa; issues regarding payments seem to be somewhat more conflictual and difficult here.”

13 April 2012

David Ngobeni - CFO Shanduka: `Pulling in a Chinese shareholder`

“South Africa would be better off facing the challenges of the current economic situation with greater productivity and lesser restrictions.” David Ngobeni, CFO of an investment holding company, Shanduka Group, has a very clear vision on how laws in South Africa limit the country in its development. Supported by his great negotiation skills he hopes to bring his company to the top. After just (1,5) years as CFO, he seems to be heading that way steadily.

08 April 2012

Tjaart Kruger - CFO African Dawn Capital: `The sky is the limit`

“When you are working in limited resource environment as transpires in a turnaround situation it becomes counterproductive. The CFO will in future have to force himself to strategically focus on business,” says Tjaart Kruger, CFO of African Dawn Capital. “It has become a very complex and highly regulated environment in the listed environment.” Skills herein are vital, yet not always present. “A major weakness that I have encountered in education is that no amount of theory prepares the finance professional for the realities of business itself. Business acumen is that ingredient that makes a good finance professional great.”

26 March 2012

Sean Capazorio - CFO Aspen: `Plan your work and work your plan`

“Plan your work and work your plan.” That is one of the things Sean Capazorio needs to do every day to feel fulfilled in his work. In 2009 Sean was appointed Group CFO of Aspen, the leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the Southern hemisphere as well as Africa’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer. The company was listed on the JSE Ltd in 1998 and is included in its Top 40 Index. The Aspen Group has almost 6500 employees, of which nearly 3000 are based in South Africa. The Aspen Group has a presence in South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Ireland, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mauritius, Dubai, Germany and Hong Kong.

20 March 2012

Tryphosa Ramano - CFO PPC: `Always be up to date on risk management`

“In the past companies never forecasted on corporate governance – now with the financial crisis people realize that forecasting is key.” A lot has changed for the modern CFO, according to Tryphosa Ramano, CFO of PPC; leading supplier of cement in southern Africa. Tryphosa qualified as a Chartered Accountant (SA) in 1994 and since then has gained experience working in a number of organisations including: Price Waterhouse Coopers, JCI, RMB Asset Managers, National Treasury, SAA and WIPHOLD.

08 March 2012

Christine Ramon - CFO Sasol: `Becoming a skeptic but value-adding agent of change`

“An orderly outcome to the European problems is likely to see the slow and unbalanced economic recovery continue, while a disorderly outcome could easily result in the world slipping back into recession. This uncertainty complicates any company’s business planning and Sasol is no exception.” Says Christine Ramon, CFO of Sasol Limited, one of South Africa's largest companies involved in mining, energy, chemicals and synfuels.

30 January 2012

Jo Pohl - CFO Ubank: `CFO needs to adapt a far more pro-active and predictive approach`

Ubank (previously Teba Bank) appointed Jo-Ann Pohl to its Board as Chief Financial Officer in June 2007. Prior to her appointment, Jo – as she prefers to be called – who is a qualified chartered accountant was at Barclays Africa where she began as a Corporate Merchant Banking and Treasury Performance Consultant for Africa and the Middle East and then moved back into finance as a Regional Financial Controller before being promoted to Head of Finance for the Pan-African business. Ubank is the 9th largest Bank by assets with deposits of over R3bn and has become a well-recognised banking brand in the country.

23 January 2012

Wayne van Houten - CFO Esorfranki: `Work hard, believe in yourself and be patient`

Information technology will form an important part of the future role of the CFO in South Africa. That is what Wayne van Houten, CFO of Esorfranki, replies when asked how the role of the CFO of the future will change over the next decade. “Use of information technology for financial reporting, compliance and market intelligence will also play a greater role and will bring enhanced efficiency into our business environment.”

20 December 2011

Bennie van Rooy - CFO JD Group: `Strategic targets will be broken down into components`

JD Group wants to “to be world-class in our fields of expertise”. It is strategically positioned in Southern Africa as a leading diversified mass consumer financier and a differentiated furniture, appliance, electronic goods, home entertainment and office automation retailer. The Group primarily targets the mass middle market with a secondary focus on the top and bottom end market segments. The Group operates 1138 stores across Southern Africa and Poland. JD Group was listed on Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1986 and has a yearly turnover of R15.7bn, made possible by over 25.000 staff members.

19 December 2011

Tyrone Soondarjee - CFO Sasfin Bank: `Use your position to improve quality decision matters in defining the future of a company`

Supplement your qualifications with solid practical experience and ensure continuous professional development to stay relevant in a fast changing global economy. That is the vital advice given to you by Tyrone Soondarjee, CFO of Sasfin Bank, when asked what vital piece of advice he would give ambitious finance professionals who 'want to make it big' in the industry. Like himself, in a way.

15 December 2011

Peter Duffy - CFO 1time: `Budgeting and forecasting are still key aspects of the financial role`

1time Holdings - a diversified aviation group - was listed on the Johannesburg Altex Stock Exchange on the 14th of August 2007. The company has evolved in leaps and bounds since its inception in 2004 and is the 100% shareholder in 1time Airline, 1time Charters, Aeronexus Technical and Aeronexus Corporate. Many people wonder what the name of the company reflects – well, here it is. The name 1time, is a reflection of the South African soul of the company. In South Africa, the phrase "one time!" is a colloquialism meaning "for real!" Within six years of existence, 1time grew from a 4-man company to a JSE-listed one, staffing over 600 employees and a yearly turnover of R1,2 billion.

09 December 2011

Garth Saunders - CFO SAB Miller: `As a modern leader you need to lead by example`

CFO South Africa had the pleasure of interviewing a large number of CFOs of leading South African companies. Today we meet Garth Saunders, CFO of SAB Miller, South Africa’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer and soft drinks. The company operates seven breweries and 40 depots in South Africa with an annual brewing capacity of 3.1 billion liters. The company has a yearly turnover of R40bn, including a R7bn profit.

06 December 2011

Paul Prinsloo - CFO PwC South Africa: `Keeping financial operations at the highest standard is vital`

The role of the CFO has changed from scorekeeper, care talker and treasurer to strategic business partner, communicator, financier, finance operator, compliance steward, run rate monitor, talent manager, financial envoy. These are the words of wisdome spoken by Paul Prinsloo, CFO of PwC South Africa, South Africa’s office of the world's largest professional services firm. PwC South Africa staffs over 4,200 people nationwide, of which 100 employees in the financial department. The firm locally has a turnover of more than R3 billion per annum.

01 December 2011

Lawrence Weitzman - CFO Business Connexion: `Today's CFO is much more of a business partner than the gate keeper`

CFO South Africa interviewed a large number of CFOs and CEOs of leading South African companies. This time we get to talk to Lawrence Weitzman, CFO of Business Connexion, Africa’s leading ICT Solutions provider. Business Connexion is a JSE-listed company employing about 6500 people. Lawrence is responsible for the finance and commercial departments, staffing about 200 people. BCX will have revenue of R6bn in 2012 at a 6% operating margin.

30 November 2011

Iain Bennie - CFO Stanlib: `Cash is King!`

Stanlib is the largest unit trust manager in the country and one of the leading asset and wealth managers in South Africa and emerging markets. The company is based in Johannesburg and has a footprint in seven African countries. The company was formed in 2002 when Liberty and Standard Bank’s asset management and wealth businesses merged. It is the biggest unit trust company in South Africa, managing assets for over 350,000 clients and employing almost 550 employees directly. We had the honor of enjoying a one-on-one with Iain Bennie, CFO of Stanlib.

22 November 2011

Chris Beukman - CFO Deloitte: `Good people skills are a necessary requirement to be successful`

CFO South Africa interviewed a large number of CFOs and CEOs of leading South African companies. Meet Mr. Chris Beukman, CFO of Deloitte, one of South Africa’s leading professional services firms staffing over 3700 employees. Chris matriculated in 1968 in Pretoria and completed BCom (Acc) (Hons) at University of Pretoria in 1973. He joined Pretoria based accounting practise Van Geusau, Coetzee & De Wit as a trainee accountant in 1973 and was qualified as Chartered Accountant (CA(SA)) in 1975. In 1978 he was appointed as a partner in the above practise, which was eventually incorporated into Deloitte & Touche through a series of mergers.

16 November 2011

Norman Thomson - CFO Woolworths: `Courage and integrity are key characteristics`

CFO South Africa interviewed a large number of CFOs and CEOs of leading South African companies. Meet Norman Thomson, CFO of Woolworths, one of South Africa’s largest chain of retail stores. Woolworths staffs 18000 people, of which 240 at the financial department of the Johannesburg based head office. Woolworths currently has a yearly turnover of R25.8bn and makes R2.3bn profit before tax (pbt). After having completed a B Com at Rhodes University, Norman pursued a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) at the University of the Witwatersrand. After serving in one or two roles as Finance Manager and Finance Director of a Woolworths group subsidiary, Norman moved into the world of Logistics and Supply Chain Management. It was in this capacity that he joined Woolworths 20 years ago, to make a comeback into the world of finance only a decade later, when he was appointed Finance Director of Woolworths ten years ago.

10 November 2011

Alex Smith - CFO Altron: "Yes You Can"

CFO South Africa has interviewed a large number of CFOs and CEOs of leading South African companies. Meet Alex Smith, CFO of Altron, a large South African investment holding company. Altron currently staffs around 13.000 people, and has a turnover of R23 billion. Alex joined Altron in 2006 and appointed to the CFO role in August 2008. Scottish Alex was trained as a CA in Edinburgh, Scotland with Price Waterhouse, after having done a law degree at Edinburgh University. He came out to South Africa on a two year secondment in 1995 and “never looked back!” He worked for PwC in South Africa through to 2005, spending eight years in their transaction services department doing a wide range of financial due diligences, before moving to Altron at the beginning of 2006 as Group Financial Manager.

03 November 2011

Bruce Sneddon - CFO Auction Alliance: `Finance will only be one part of the role of the future CFO`

CFO South Africa has interviewed a large number of CFOs and CEOs of leading South African companies. Next in our series is Bruce Sneddon, CFO of Auction Alliance, one of South Africa’s leading auction services groups, staffing 175 people and a turnover of R300m. Bruce joined Auction Alliance in his capacity as Chief Financial Officer in December 2009. As a qualified Chartered Accountant, Mr. Sneddon completed both his under- and post-graduate studies at UCT, followed by his articles at Deloitte. Prior to his position at Alliance Group, Bruce acted as CFO at Integer, Finance Executive at Truworths, CEO and former Group Financial Director at Appleton, as well as being Group Accountant for Norwich Holdings. 1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

26 October 2011

Paul O'Flaherty - CFO Eskom: `Companies have great strategies but fail in executing them appropriately`

CFO South Africa is interviewing a large number of CFOs and CEOs of leading South African companies. From now on, we will publish them on our site regularly. Next in our series is Mr. Paul O’Flaherty, CFO of Eskom, a company staffing 42,000 people, which he joined in January 2010. He was appointed to the Board as executive director responsible for the finance function overseeing nearly 3.000 employers in the finance and shared services departments.

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