Interview

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

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.

Read more: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5