Page 1


The X Factor SA’s new exchanges ZAR X, 4AX and A2X

Debbie Ransby FD Takeda SA and Algeria Success in Africa Mohammed Akoojee CFO Imperial Punching above my weight

Safer in the cloud Workday goes SA Meet the nominees Who will win big at the 2018 CFO Awards?

Umar Banda CFO City of Tshwane The public sector as training ground




CFO Kumba Iron Ore

Bothwell Mazarura Value from the land







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Debbie Ransby

As close to an accounting anti-hero as you will encounter in an FD role, Mike Buckham recalls failing accounting at university and rolling from one career-related disaster into the other, before finally making a mark at Prescient and joining Sygnia in 2017 to become Magda Wierzycka’s wingman.

What can a South African CFO do when catapulted into an Egyptian pharmaceutical business that is a complete mess, when people provoke you and refuse to shake your hand, and when your communication gets completely ignored? If you’re Debbie Ransby, you turn that business around completely and have the last laugh.

40 Bothwell Mazarura


“My father was an agricultural demonstrator. He travelled on his bike to teach people how to farm,” recalls Kumba Iron Ore CFO Bothwell Mazarura. “It was about helping black African people create value from the land they live on. I am trying to do the same.”


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Human capital 22 All systems go for CHRO SA 24 Workday goes SA: safer in the cloud

Accounting 28 Meet Deloitte’s new CFO Africa: Jen McDonald 32 IFRS 9: insights from Standard



Bank’s top experts

Facing the future 35 Mills Soko, UCT Graduate School of Business director 38 Exclusive insights at CFO


Summit 45 From the MD: be the change

Growth 54 The X Factor: SA’s new exchanges ZAR X, 4AX and A2X 60 Umar Banda – the public sector as training ground

Excellence 64 Imperial CFO Mohammed Akoojee: punching above my weight 70 Meet the 2018 CFO Awards nominees 78 Liaan Kretzschmar in search of authentic leadership

And further 6 From the Editor in Chief: doing the right thing 8 Finance Indaba Africa 2018: smashing all records 10 On the move: new CFO




82 – the 10 most popular reads of 2017 83 Calendar 2018 CFO South Africa CFO MAGAZINE • CFO.CO.ZA



Doing the right thing


hoices and crossroads are a dime a dozen for finance leaders, and doing the right thing is not always easy, even if dilemmas are not of the same magnitude as the ones that snared Steinhoff, Eskom and KPMG. CFOs and FDs often mention dealing with people as the hardest part of their jobs, whether they are underperforming team members or demanding bosses and boards. In our cover story (page 40), Kumba Iron Ore CFO Bothwell Mazarura talks about his own tough personal choices, the trauma of Marikana during his long tenure at Lonmin, and the role the mining industry needs to play to create value from the land for the ordinary Africans that live on it. His biggest inspiration is his father, who travelled on his bike through rural Zimbabwe to teach people how to farm. Mike Buckham started his finance career by failing accounting, but these days thrives in an environment of deadlines, transparency – and difficult bosses. The bird watching enthusiast joined Magda Wierzycka’s Sygnia last year, where he continues his career as wingman, helping entrepreneurial CEOs to do the right thing. His most difficult crossroads came when he received a text message in the dark jungle of Panama (page 14). Yet another CFO of a JSE-listed company, Imperial’s Mohammed Akoojee (page 64), talks about choices as opportunities. “Don’t fear responsibility,” he says. “If something feels right, gives you better experience and adds to your existing skill set, take it and fig-



ure the rest out later.” His words are echoed by Takeda’s Debbie Ransby (page 48), winner of the Moving into Africa Award at the CFO Awards 2017. “My philosophy is that life is what you make of it,” she said in an interview in which she shares some incredible tips for CFOs working in the rest of Africa. “You’ve got to put your hand up and take the initiative.” The way finance leaders deal with choices and change is a central theme in the interviews with three other young finance leaders: Liaan Kretzschmar (Jaguar Landrover – page 78), Jen McDonald (Deloitte – page 28) and Umar Banda (City of Tshwane – page 60). The latter’s initiative to start training chartered accountants at the finance department of the municipality surely ranks among the most exciting initiatives in the public sector at the moment. For CFOs who believe change is needed to prevent stagnation in their organisation, the interview with Gonzalo Benedit (page 24) about Workday’s entry into the South African market cannot be missed. Our insightful feature on the three new stock exchanges (page 54) and the expert advice from Standard Bank about IFRS 9 (page 32) are also compulsory homework for leaders who want to do the right thing and stay current.

Joël Roerig +27 (0)76 371 2856

Relevant, thought provoking and inspiring.

Wow , what an awesome experience. The Finance Indaba is a fantastic opportunity to hear from high quality presenters on their experiences and insights.

Don’t miss out on Finance Indaba Africa 3 & 4 October 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre

Finance Indaba Africa is the biggest finance conference in Africa. More than 5,000 visitors tap into a wealth of resources, know-how and inspiration. With more than 120 sessions hosted by expert speakers and rockstar disruptors like Vusi Thembekwayo, this is the one annual event that finance professionals can’t afford to miss. Register for FREE with your membership number to earn 12 CPD points at Finance Indaba Africa 2018. Do you want to exhibit at Finance Indaba Africa 2018? Contact Graham Fehrsen ( | +27 79 898 0227) or visit


9 REASONS TO REGISTER TODAY 1. Meet thousands of your peers from different industries 2. Learn about the latest in analytics and automation 3. Hear about the personal experiences of leading South African CFOs​ 4. Engage with thought leaders and FinTech entrepreneurs 5. Hear from female leaders shattering the glass ceiling 6. Tips on exercising corporate governance and due diligence 7. Personal lessons from international finance leaders 8. Advice on balancing work and life 9. Hear from your public sector servants on how they are building a better future

Thandeka Zondi, Director of strategy and business development at SekelaXabiso

Finance professionals flock to the Sandton Convention Centre on 3 and 4 October 2018

Smashing all records Finance Indaba Africa 2018 is going to be bigger and better. The biggest finance conference in Africa is expected to smash records in terms of numbers of attendees, exhibitors, international speakers and business opportunities.


n 3 and 4 October 2018, over 5,000 finance professionals will gather to learn, share knowledge and network. Many of this year’s exhibitors have already renewed their commitments and other companies – who realise they



missed out in 2017 – will be joining the exhibition. “Finance Indaba understands that Finance is more than just numbers,” commented attendee Cheryl Howell, finance manager at the CSIR, after last year’s event. “It’s

about connecting people, ideas and information to add value and improve the numbers.” Unathi Mlisa, management accountant MTN Group, also lauded the value of the two days. “The entertainment was out of this world, the presenters were of very high cali-

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW 1. 3 & 4 October 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre 2. Free of charge for finance professionals 3. Twitter hashtag #findaba18 4. to exhibit or register 5. Email Sarah Chalmers at for team registrations

bre and the energy from everyone electric. Can’t wait for 2018!” Financial accounting director Charlotte Makaringe, who works at the public works department of Limpopo province, called the event inspirational. “I will never miss it. I attended last year and always come back ready to take on the world.” Shaun Carter, part-time FD at CFS Recruitment ‘complained’ about “information overload”, but called the event “a great onestop-shop to find service providers in the industry”. V-Switch director Hannes Venter echoed that sentiment: “I met a lot of people and was introduced to new solutions and services for our business growth in the future." CFOs and other top executives have realised that giving their team two days ofis

the best (free) investment they can make in the success of their businesses. “It is fascinating to have an event of this size and magnitude with content of exceptional quality. The Finance Indaba is something that is needed for our profession in this country,” said JSE Limited CFO Aarti Takoordeen after last year’s event, with SAICA’s Kelly Masete, Project Director: Members in Business, echoing her assessment: “The Finance Indaba is a brilliant platform for people to network, interact and share knowledge and information.” Finance Indaba Africa is the only annual event on the continent where thousands of registered accountants and other finance professionals gather under one roof for two days to advance their

knowledge, networks and careers during learning sessions, presentations and networking. CAs and members of other professional bodies also qualify for up to 14 CPD hours, but that is small change compared to the massive boost the event gives to the work finance teams produce. Planning for the 2018 event on 3 and 4 October is well underway, with a number of top quality speakers soon to be revealed, alongside a string of partners and exhibitors that will be announced over the course of the next few months. Standard Bank will once again feature as diamond partner at the Finance Indaba Africa, while other confirmed exhibitors include CIMA, ACCA, Purple Group, AdvanceNet, 4Most, 360T and This Is Me. l




Experienced CFOs take on new challenges

ON THE MOVE A number of experienced South African CFOs have changed employers over the last few months. There was also some turmoil in the mining industry, particularly Katanga.

Casper said of his appointment: “I am very excited to be joining OMEM at such a significant time in its history. I look forward to being part of the team that will be listing OML as a premium African financial services provider.”

Casper Troskie


fter seven years of service, Casper Troskie left his post as FD of Liberty Holdings to instead take up a position at Old Mutual Emerging Markets (OMEM), also in the FD role. As of 1 April 2018, Troskie takes over from Mike Ilsley, who stepped down in November 2017 for health reasons. In addition, Troskie will become FD-Designate for Old Mutual Limited (OML), the new South African holding company intended to be listed on the JSE this year, as part of Old Mutual plc’s managed separation strategy.



Liberty lost another experienced finance leader, as Liberty Financial Services (LibFin) CFO Angela Pillay has been announced as the new group financial director at Sasfin, effective 1 March 2018, filling the gap left by Tyrone Soondarjee, who moved to Cell C last year. Angela is a qualified CA(SA) with a Master’s degree in Financial Services, and has 15 years of banking experience in designing, leading and implementing a broad range of initiatives to support business strategy. Prior to joining Liberty, she was employed at Barclays and FNB.

has been at Altron for 12 years, replaces Herman Kotze, who was only in the position since June 2017. Prior to taking on his role with Altron, Alex worked in various positions at PwC in the UK and in South Africa from 1991 to 2005, initially as a trainee accountant and then as audit manager and associate director of the transaction services department.

Vivek Venkatkumar

Another prominent CFO move took place in the technology space, where Altron CFO Alex Smith will be leaving his role at the end of February 2018 to become CFO at Net1 UEPS Technologies. Alex, who

Bytes Document Solutions (BDS) meanwhile announced Vivek Venkatkumar as its new FD. The CA(SA) takes over from Perry Hurri,

who retired after no less than 44 years with Xerox and BDS – the largest Xerox distributor in the world. Vivek said of his appointment: “I am very pleased to be joining BDS. I know that Perry’s sterling example and track record leaves high standards to live up to. I am looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that my new portfolio brings.” Johan Basson, CEO of BDS, said: “The exuberance of youth, the high energy, fresh perspectives, knowledge, expertise and experience that Vivek brings to our company will strengthen our governance and financial management capabilities. Vivek’s appointment contributes to

the consolidation of the leadership at BDS and is evidence of the great career opportunities that employment with BDS can offer.” Manie Mayman is once again in charge of the finances at Media24, albeit in an acting capacity, after he took over from Cindy Hess. Cindy held the role for a little over one year and left to pursue other ventures. Until recently, she was CFO of Pioneer Foods, and in that capacity, was one of the nominees for the 2016 CFO of the Year Awards. Manie retired in November 2016 after having served the company in the CFO capacity from 2007 to 2009 and again from January 2014 to November 2016.

Elvin de Kock

Digital solutions provider Ansys has appointed Elvin de Kock as its new CFO. He took over from Burt Lambrecht, who served in this position for the previous two years. Elvin, a fellow of the




Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and an associate of the Chartered Institute of Company Secretaries, began his career as financial manager for Reuters in Africa in 1986. Since then he has served on the boards of several companies, in various positions.

Pieter van Buuren

Following the resignation end December 2017 of Talib Sadik as finance director, construction company Basil Read appointed Pieter van Buuren as its new CFO. Pieter brings 23 years of financial leadership experience to the table, having previously worked for York, Murray & Roberts and Bell Equipment. André Koekemoer was promoted to the role of CFO at Capital Drilling, which operates extensively in emerging markets within Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. He replaced Dewald van Tonder in the role. André has been with the company since 2009. His



most recent role was deputy CFO, though he has also held the roles of financial manager, operations commercial manager and group financial controller. Late last year it was announced that three of Glencore’s directors, including CFO Steve Kalmin, would serve on the board of subsidiary company, Katanga Mining, which operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is headquartered in Canada. This followed the completion of Katanga’s internal review of certain past accounting practices, which revealed material weaknesses in the company’s internal controls over financial reporting. In light of this, the South African Katanga CFO Jacques Lubbe resigned with immediate effect, and was replaced by Grant Sboros. Other Katanga board members were also replaced. Katanga said in a statement: “The company has concluded that it did not adequately establish and enforce a strong culture of compliance and controls, which includes the adherence to policies, procedures and controls necessary to present financial statements in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).” It added that each of the material weaknesses found created a “reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the company’s yearly financial statements or interim financial reports would not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.”

Batandwa Mdyesha

Chinese vehicle manufacturer, Beijing Automotive Group South Africa (BAIC SA) appointed Batandwa Mdyesha to the role of CFO. Batandwa was previously the CFO of state-owned mining company, African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation, and has also worked for Eskom. In the wake of the ongoing debacle surrounding Steinhoff, Ben la Grange resigned from his position as CFO of Steinhoff, well as CEO of Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR). While Ben was cleared of any wrongdoing in the company’s accounting scandal, the board felt his expertise would be more valuable on the strategy side, and going forward he will thus focus on fixing the sudden and significant $2.9 billion gap in the company’s finances. His CFO role has been filled by Philip Dieperink, the finance head of the company’s UK business, who has taken over in an acting capacity. l

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How accounting anti-hero Mike Buckham became FD at sexy Sygnia

Confessions of a wingman The sun had set in Panama’s Darién rainforest, the wild and infamous home of armed Colombian rebels, drug traffickers, blood-sucking bats, poison-dart frogs and more than 500 bird species. Mike Buckham had retired to his luxury tent after several adrenaline-filled days of chasing toucans, hummingbirds and the much-prized harpy eagle. Then a message found its way from a cell phone mast in Cape Town to the roadless wilderness that forms the missing link of the Pan American Highway: do you want to become financial director of Sygnia? By Joël Roerig 14







ven when giving Mike Buckham full points for self-deprecation and modesty, his ascent to finance leader of one of South Africa’s sexiest brands has been unusual and unexpected. As close to an accounting anti-hero as you will encounter in an FD role, Mike recalls failing accounting at university, being too risk-averse for the investment world, too snobbish to make the most of auditing articles, struggling to access the job market, rolling from one career-related disaster into the other – before finally making a mark at Prescient, where he guided a complicated reverse-takeover and then a delisting. “You don’t learn nearly as much when things are going well,” observes Mike with his typical mix of dry insight, smart humour and personal warmth. This is a story of a finance boss who thrives off the beaten track, whether he is out birdwatching or navigating the boardroom jungles of the financial services sector. Significantly, this is a story of a Joburg-born Capetonian who also became responsible for HR at both Prescient and now at asset manager Sygnia, testimony to the fact that his skills lie as much in his human touch as in his knack for numbers. When now-prominent Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka was looking for a wingman who could free her up to be (even) more strategic and visionary, she needed someone a little out of the ordinary. Someone with a track record of successfully enabling entrepreneurial CEOs. That’s where Mike came in. Throughout his career, he has worked with, tolerated, survived and assisted a broad variety of big bosses. “There are only two types of entrepreneurial CEOs,” observes Mike. “Some are very difficult and successful. Some are very difficult and not successful.”

Baffled What makes Mike so well-suited to working with entrepreneurial CEOs? His schooling was privileged, but conventional. The younger Mike was good at maths, but didn’t even do accounting at school. Educated at the prestigious King David Schools and St Stithians College in Johannesburg, he discarded the idea of becoming an architect and decided to “study something more practical”. He enrolled for an undergrad degree at the University of Cape Town, eventually majoring in finance and accounting.



Only during his second year in the Cape did Mike attend his first-ever accounting classes – and he was baffled. “I found it to be a different language and half a year through it, I was failing badly. Then the panic set in: I had a plan for my career, but my grades were in the 30s, even though I was good with numbers. Only when I did extra lessons and had the principles of accounting drilled into me did it finally click.” Most current high-fliers in asset management are natural accounting buffs with an instinct for investing. Mike was neither, he says. “I never had a passion for investing. Some students and young professionals are always looking for a good share deal. I was much more risk averse.” However, as soon as Mike ‘clicked’, accounting became easy and he passed his board exam straight after university. He then set out to become a proper suit-and-tie office man. “I hated my article days, doing audits in a factory in Epping or some other godforsaken place.” Post articles, Mike, and his young wife Jean, travelled for six months with the aim of slotting in at a big corporate when he returned, aided by a powerful oldboys network, but discovered on his return towards the end of 1999 that the “slotting in” days were over. He dropped his name at agencies, went on rounds of interviews and added Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) to his CV. “I was not passionate about investment, but I thought that, as I was living in Cape Town, it would increase my chances of getting a good job, as a lot of asset managers are based here.”

Mentor He eventually joined pension fund administrator Ten50Six as financial manager, where he found managing director Richard Smith – now COO at Bowmans – as his first mentor. “We had financial constraints and dealt with difficult people and difficult transactions. The company really struggled and we ended up selling to Glenrand. I learnt a lot about people in this period,” says Mike, who worked hard and picked up some lessons he now regularly passes on to upcoming finance people. “For example, you might think that taking minutes is below you as a CA(SA), but in the early phase of your career this is one of the most valuable things you can do. I did a lot of minute taking those days, which allowed me to absorb the true issues.”

“There I was... six years after articles... going from the one disaster to another. I was learning a lot, but my career was going nowhere…” No entrepreneurial CEO is easy, says Mike, but where Richard Smith had been a realistic accountant, the Ten50Six CEO was different. “CEOs are generally salespeople with high energy that are used to having everyone listen to what they say,” says Mike, recounting his experiences. “They live their lives trying to convince other people that they have good ideas.” With a failing administration transition, clashing cultures and a boss that he could not respect, Mike packed his bags and joined Lion of Africa Life Assurance “desperate to get out”, rather than having a better option. “I ended up working for another entrepreneur who was also full of bluster and no substance. There I was... six years after articles... going from the one disaster to another. I was learning a lot, but my career was going nowhere…” Things began to fall in place when an old varsity friend invited him to join Prescient Life. Instinctively loyal, he initially said no to the offer, but phoned back 30 seconds later, assumed a compliance and administrative role and was appointed FD of the group after a few months, becoming responsible for the finances of a company of then 40 people, with R40 billion under management.

Radically complicated In 2012, Prescient Holdings listed on the JSE through a reverse listing into PBT Group, which used to be called Prescient Business Technologies. It’s here, in the tangled lianas of corporate finance, that Mike came into his own and the wingman took flight. “It was a radically complicated reverse acquisition. Prescient was worth R1.6 billion at that stage, while PBT was only worth R300 million. We had common shareholders and Prescient founder Herman Steyn had always wanted to list. It was meant to bring synergies and was supposed to be a cleanup exercise to bring shareholders together.” Mike admits the listing has been termed disastrous by some. He says the performance of the newly listed firm was poor because of the very same expensive derivative structures that had made Prescient successful during the economic downturn of 2008. Now, they were a disadvantage, hurting investment performance in insipid markets. Furthermore, the company was majority-owned by management and because of that “consultants saw the listing as an exit”, recalls Mike. “We lost R30 billion of assets, because we confused investors and lost credibility because of the complicated construction. I am convinced that if Prescient had listed cleanly in 2005 or 2006, it would have been a success story on the JSE.” Although it didn’t bring instant riches, the entire operation at Prescient was highly rewarding professionally, says Mike. “It was an amazing time for me. From a small financial manager, I had become an FD of a JSElisted company. The learning curve was massive. We did financial accounting transactions that were some



of most complicated things you will ever see. We had offshore subsidiaries and all sorts of weird and wonderful structures. Never having been a technical accountant, it was difficult and stressful but rewarding to learn.” In 2016, Stellar Capital knocked on the door and – much to the relief of many – allowed Prescient the opportunity to delist and unwind its complicated reverse acquisition. “I never expected to leave Prescient and had never been approached by anyone. I had worked for Herman for many years. He is an incredibly successful man, smart, but thriving in chaos. He had the ideas, I was responsible for implementation. I saw myself there forever and the acquisition by Stellar was going to be life changing.” But then came Panama.

Birdwatching The person receiving the message from Magda Wierzycka on that serendipitous evening in the impenetrable rainforest at the southern edge of Central America was not Mike but his travel companion and birding buddy Simon Peile, Sygnia’s head of investments and husband to Magda. “My wife had done a Thelma and Louise trip to San Francisco with her sisters in 2016 and my overriding emotion had been one of jealousy,” says Mike, explaining how he – as a father of four – managed to get a ‘pink ticket’ to plan an epic birdwatching trip. Whereas his friend Simon is a well-travelled international birdwatcher who was mainly looking to set eyes on the near-mythical forest hunter, the harpy eagle, for Mike, the opportunity to aim his binoculars and camera at woodcreepers, hummingbirds, toucans and other avian delights was the stuff of dreams. Any neo-tropical birds would do. After Simon relayed Magda’s message, Mike told him that he was very happy at Prescient, but his friend managed to convince him to meet Magda for coffee.



“Only later did I discover that Magda and Simon had discussed me as a potential FD many times prior to that moment.”

Most difficult Despite the connection through Simon, Mike had never met Magda socially, but he had had an “energised conversation” with her during his time at Prescient. “I remember that conversation well. I was definitely getting kakked on, but it was logical and factual. Just a different opinion.” Prior to this conversation Mike knew Magda by reputation only. “She was renowned for being very tough. She still is. She survived many difficult things at Coronation and African Harvest.” One coffee became another. And then a glass of wine. “It was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. I was deeply involved in the Stellar transaction and Herman had asked me to take over a number of CEOtype roles. I was part of the furniture at Prescient. At the same time, Magda had a reputation for being a tough taskmaster and I didn’t want to work for someone who could make my life a misery. I don’t want them to hear this, but Herman and Magda are actually quite similar in many ways: very smart and very principled.” One of the biggest pull factors for Mike was getting back on the JSE. “During Prescient’s short period as a listed company, I realised that I really enjoy the structure that comes with listing: deadlines, results every three months come hell or high water, a high degree of transparency. I am a very black-and-white person. There is very little room for manoeuvring, which suits me as I want to present things the way they are.” In February 2017, Mike joined Sygnia, an innovative FinTech company that provides asset management, stockbroking and administration services, as well as a wide range of savings products, to institutional and retail clients. Sygnia was founded by the wife-andhusband team of Magda and Simon in 2006 and went


through a high profile and successful listing in 2015. “Moving to Sygnia was certainly not a financial decision for me,” says Mike. “I definitely looked at it from a long-term career development perspective.”

Phenomenal Since Mike joined, Sygnia has become a different animal because of the prominent role the CEO has started to play in the public discourse about corruption, state capture and white collar crime. “That was not what I expected when I joined Sygnia,” Mike admits. “The consolidation is ten times easier here compared to Prescient, but there are some other challenging dimensions to the job. Last year’s developments have exposed me to extremely interesting ethical and economic discussions. Sitting in a meeting with Magda is phenomenal. She really is smarter than anyone else in the room. She has a different big idea every three days and she is very good at documenting those ideas in clear and simple language so the rest of us can catch up.” Mike Buckham and Simon Peile,

It could be argued that someone who is lacking Mike’s experience with dynamic, but difficult, entrepreneurs, would have been eaten alive by the Sygnia CEO. “I have started following her on Twitter to get a heads-up,” Mike says with a smile, adding that he has been “very lucky there was value I could add from day one”, with Magda extremely keen to stop worrying about SENS announcements and similar nitty-gritty. “I hit the ground running. On my first day, I was presented with the acquisition of Deutsche Bank’s JSE-listed db X-tracker ETFs (exchange traded funds). I am better at that kind of stuff and knowing that I am now on board to take care of these things has given Magda a lot of freedom to concentrate on strategy. It was great to get stuck in immediately.”

Head of Investments at Sygnia

Mike’s most difficult moment has been the firing of KPMG as auditor, ending a relationship with two partners he’s known for more than ten years. Magda was the one calling out KPMG publicly for its role in the Gupta entities, the Gupta-wedding and the controversial SARS “rogue unit” report. “The termination of that appointment was extremely stressful. The partners




on our account were the most ethical people you will ever meet. We terminated on Thursday 27 July. The following day I had coffee with the two partners. They were angry. Eventually, though, we were vindicated by KPMG’s own press release two months later, announcing the shortcomings of the firm in its dealings with the Gupta entities and the consequential cleanout of the top executive.”

No minions With Magda as omnipresent strategist, it's difficult for Sygnia to convince the world that the company is more than a one-woman-show. “We are trying to change that perception,” says Mike, who was in the same boat at the Herman Steyn-led Prescient. “What amazed me when I joined was the number of very strong people working here. This is not a company of minions. COO Niki Giles, who performed the FD role until I joined, is the most phenomenal person to work with, for example. She knows everything about everything.” As Sygnia grabbed headlines with its CEO’s political and ethical views, the share price proved volatile, which always makes institutional investors jumpy. Sygnia is now aiming to take its low-cost, high-tech investment model to a broader market and is also quietly eyeing opportunities in the UK. London might be a financial services capital, but there is still room for disruptors from abroad, says Mike. “People think of South Africa as backwaters, but we are streets ahead in terms of transparency of fees. In the UK there is still a massive layering of costs.” What is unique about Sygnia, is its focus on innovation and disruption, says Mike, adding that the company does not pay exorbitant bonuses to investment professionals and does all its own administration. “One of our most exciting products is the Sygnia 4th Industrial Revolution Global Equity Fund, which invests in indices that tracks companies producing products and services in things like artificial intelligence, self-driven cars and other tech of the future. In October, this was year-on-year the second best performing unit trust in South Africa.”

Human touch Entrepreneurs like Herman and Magda are not typically acknowledged for their high levels of EQ and abundance of compassion. Although the same might apply to the stock standard chartered accountant,



Mike has made it his mission to add the human touch to the working environment, for the benefit of both the business and the individuals working there.

“Although it sounds touchyfeely, which I am not, I find that personal relationships are crucial for the success of companies and the individuals who work there.” “I believe it is very important to develop relationships with everyone from the tea lady to the CEO,” says Mike, who was supervising HR at Prescient and now again at Sygnia. “Although it sounds touchy-feely, which I'm not, I find that personal relationships are crucial for the success of companies and the individuals who work there. People who work with entrepreneurs get used to a role model that is always intense, but I think I am very good at combining high intensity at the desk with having downtime off the desk,” says Mike, something Magda would have known when she texted the job offer to the forested birding Valhalla of eastern Panama. “That balance,” says Mike, “is the key to how I work.” l


Moula Mokhobo-Amegashie,

Thozama Nene,

Managing Partner at Drayton Glendower & Mokhobo

Group Head Human Resources at KTH

All systems go for CHRO SA Having successfully launched in February 2017, CHRO South Africa held its first year-end function at the Saxon Boutique Hotel on 30 November, hosting a cast of top-notch HR executives who shared their thoughts on their plans for the coming year.


HRO SA is the community of leading HR professionals, who regularly come together to discuss ideas and challenges facing the profession. In 2018, plans for the sister organisation to CFO South Africa are ambitious, with the launch of CHRO Magazine, a full calendar of exclusive events,



and the first-ever HR Indaba on 3 and 4 October 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre. Workday, the fast-growing provider of cloudbased finance and HR software, has already been confirmed as mainline sponsor. In 2017, CHRO SA hosted five successful events, culminating in the

November get-together, where the focus was very much on talent. Marge Mantjie, Head of HR at Adams & Adams, sat on a panel alongside Moula MokhoboAmegashie, Managing Partner at Drayton Glendower & Mokhobo and James Ramakau, Senior Human Resources Manager, AngloGold Ashanti, and said there

Moula Mokhobo-Amegashie and James Ramakau, senior HR manager at AngloGold Ashanti

Nobantu Masebelanga (Liberty), Makgotso Letsitsi (KPMG) and Queen Mokonoto (Oracle)

was a war for talent, particularly in the legal space where international players are coming into the market. “Retaining talent is not only about the monetary value that you give your employees,” said Marge. “It’s also about expanding the value proposition that you offer an individual, so we have to be creative about the offerings that we present to candidates, which will also help the firm in terms of differentiating itself from other players in the market.” People are increasingly looking for freedom, less bureaucracy and real mentorship, agreed Moula, who has tried to build a model where she treats everyone like a shareholder in the business. That means creating a culture where every-

Tshidi Khunou (FNB), Sthembiso Phakathi and Busi Mtsweni (both Barclays Africa)

body understands the business objectives and is given freedom to pursue those goals in their own way. “From a flexible working environment perspective, we come to the office to meet clients but, at the end of the day, everybody can work from wherever they want.” James brought the conversation back to a topic that was the subject of an earlier CHRO SA roundtable last year, which was to bring back the ‘human’ in human resources, which he said was something that the profession was losing. “As we become stronger business people, we become very hard and cold when it comes to the human element. For our executive team, we try to remind that we are dealing with individuals who still deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”

The point was echoed by Tshidi Khunou, Head of Talent Acquisition at FNB Wealth and Investments. “It’s important, therefore, to remember the value of teams who are often experiencing the same levels of stress and pressure that we do as executives. I think that is the one thing that we are missing in the HR community,” l

To get involved with CHRO South Africa or the HR Indaba, please contact community manager Maud Meijvis at or 060 6918849




Workday goes SA: an interview with top executive Gonzalo Benedit

SAFER IN THE CLOUD Since its launch in 2004, Workday has been eating away at the hegemony of SAP and Oracle, mainly in the United States at first, but now also in the rest of the world. In February 2018, the company opens its office in Johannesburg and CFO Magazine took the opportunity to chat to top executive Gonzalo Benedit. “When looking for finance and HR systems in the cloud, Workday is the safest choice.”




ver the past decade or so, Gonzalo Benedit has been one of the most successful leaders in the finance technology space. The Argentinian turned SAP into an enormous success in Mexico, and put the ERP firm on a growth curve in Latin America before making waves in the Paris-headquartered EMEA region. In 2017, he joined competitor Workday and now heads up the barnstorming finance and HR solutions company outside the United States. On 15 February 2018, Workday officially launches in South Africa. We spoke to Gonzalo about his biggest successes to date, what attracted him to Workday and why he believes his new professional home is convincing so many multinationals to jump ship and partner with the cloud-based services provider. How do you personally connect with CFOs? “Initially, my aspiration was to be a CFO myself! I was born and raised in Argentina, outside of Buenos Aires. Throughout the early days of studies, I always saw myself in finance. I started in corporate finance and then did project finance. I have

always liked that combination: the analytical aspect of finance and the connection with the real business. That led me to management consulting and technology. My finance background has always been extremely useful, as it provides the ability to dive deeper into different dimension of the business and understand the levers that can be pushed and pulled.” What do you consider your proudest career achievement before joining Workday? “I think that was back when I was running SAP in Mexico as a managing director. It was an interesting individual challenge. Mexico is a large economy with a large population and we really had to take the operation to the next level. We invested a lot, hired new people and the acceleration of SAP’s operation in that market turned out to be phenomenal. It is now one of the top markets for SAP, where the company has an incredible footprint, particularly in retail.” Why did you decide to join Workday? “It was not an easy decision, but there were a few things at Workday that drew my attention. First of all, I was impressed by the technology that Workday offers, being a single cloud platform with an incredible user interface. You can run it from your mobile device and

because there are new releases every six months, there is a great focus on continuous innovation. I don’t think it compares to anything out there in the marketplace. I find that very fascinating.” “The second aspect that drew me to Workday is the incredible obsession the company has with customer satisfaction. It is not just a focus, but really an obsession. We don’t take our customers for granted and work on their experience and the value they receive day in and day out. Of our 1,900 customers across the globe, 70 percent are already live with Workday. The satisfaction rate among them is an incredible 98 percent.” “Thirdly, what inspired me to move from a competitor is the culture at Workday, as instilled by our founders and the CEO Aneel Bhusri. It is something very special. Values like integrity and respect are truly central to what we do. We also believe happy employees make customers happy.” Were your friends in the industry surprised about your job move? “Their surprise was related to the fact that I had been building a career at SAP for a long time, but – especially in North America – Workday is very well known, so there was no surprise about the choice of employer. The busi-




ness community has an incredible respect for the company. We have customers like Unilever, GSK, BP, Rolls-Royce and Airbus, all pretty incredible companies in their own right that have decided to move to Workday. Around 30 percent of the Fortune 500 works with Workday these days.” How do you explain Workday’s impressive growth? “We are very strong at offering human capital management and finance and analytics solutions to organisations that are big multinationals, right through to medium-sized companies. We are competing mostly with SAP and Oracle, which have been very successful with on-premise solutions in the past, but more than 50 percent of big companies have already decided to host their solutions in the cloud, particularly in HR. When it comes to the cloud, we believe Workday is the safer choice. Our competitors talk about being simple, but they are not. We were born in the cloud. We were born with simplicity at our core.” “One thing that we are seeing is that technology from previous generations requires big implementation projects. Companies have done so many customisations that they are stuck. Workday works with a different paradigm. We focus on



configuration over customisation and have an incredibly powerful platform for this purpose. Every bi-yearly update has on average 400 new features of which some will be embedded and some can be enabled. This is a story of continuous innovation. When Workday 29 launched recently, it came with a totally new customer interface, which was based on customer feedback. In a couple of hours, every Workday customer across the world had the new customer interface. This is a completely new way of working and updating your enterprise technology, and it is immensely powerful.” Although most CFOs advocate zero customisation, they also all have unique businesses and requirements. How can they cater for that? “The power of the simple model is something we want to protect, as we believe it is one of the key differentiators. That means there are things we cannot tackle. We will always be open about that. At Workday, it is totally forbidden to oversell or set wrong expectations. But after many requests, we launched a Platform-as-a-Service model in 2017. The intention is not to create a new business unit, but to allow customers to add specific extensions for specific scenarios under the safe umbrella of

Workday, without endangering the regular upgrades.” What is your brief for the coming years? “My responsibility is to run the business outside of US, basically EMEA, Asia Pacific and Japan. It is a beautiful responsibility. Our operations outside the US now comprise 21 percent of the business, and last year we won big deals like Lloyds Banking Group in the UK and Siemens in Germany. Typically, when coming into a new market, we start with addressing very large corporations, focussing on HR. Then we go deeper into the market with financials. We are now also going for midsize enterprises with a unique combined package of HR and finance that can basically run your entire back office.” What are your expectations in South Africa? “Opening an office in South Africa is a very exciting part of our expansion strategy. Very recently we opened offices in Asia Pacific and last year we launched in Spain. With regards to South Africa, the good news is that there is already some sort of Workday community through the local operations of our global clients. With Barclays Africa, we already have a big, local customer. All in all, we have more than 250 companies in South Africa operat-

ing on Workday, of which a handful are locally headquartered. There is already a pretty vibrant community.” What role does the community of CFOs and CHROs play for Workday? “That has perhaps been the greatest surprise for me since joining. The CFO and HR communities are very vibrant. People share practices and are often very open about how they run the business with Workday. It is fascinating to see.

Every year, we have a global event called Workday Rising, where the community comes together. Last year’s event in Barcelona attracted nearly 2,000 attendees, of which 60 percent attended Rising for the first time. We use the event to get customers in a room with each other and with prospects. We then leave the room to let the conversation flow freely. Nobody with a Workday badge is allowed in. I don’t think there is anything else like that in the industry.”

“We also strongly believe in the power of local events; there is no better way to build relationships with the regional community. Critically, it is not about Workday talking about the Workday product. With over 250 customers already operational in South Africa, these events are about the power of the community and thought leadership. As I have said, we approach things quite differently to the past – it really is ALL about the customer!” l

MEET ZUKO MDWABA: WORKDAY’S NEW SALES DIRECTOR IN SA In anticipation of the official launch of Workday in South Africa, we caught up with Zuko Mdwaba, who is joining the company as its regional sales director. Zuko is a highly regarded senior professional with nearly 20 years of technical and sales experience in the IT sector at leading companies like Oracle and, most recently, as country leader at SAS. Asked what his proudest career achievement to date was, Zuko revealed an entrepreneurial streak. “That was when I started a business from scratch and built it into a multi-million dollar business, achieving double digit growth on an annual basis. This was a team effort and I am particularly honoured to have been able to lead a team of very competent individuals who were always pushing the boundaries to achieve their own potential – and more.” Zuko says he believes there is no better enterprise applications vendor than Workday to add value to the South African market. “I joined Workday for two key reasons: I am incredibly enthusiastic about the technology, and even more importantly, about the positive disruption that Workday brings to market through innovation. Workday is unique because it puts people at the centre of enterprise software. I am excited to be part of Workday’s phenomenal growth potential and to make a difference to our customers here in South Africa.”




From ballet to accounting: meet Deloitte’s new CFO Africa, Jen McDonald

Impact that matters Jen McDonald took over as CFO Africa for Deloitte in June 2017. In the short time since, she’s implemented a shared services centre for finance and a KPI target model to measure business performance, as well as kickstarted the implementation of a new ERP system across the region. And that’s in addition to driving the 2020 finance strategy. “It’s been a hectic few months,” she laughs. By Toni Muir

My time is a constant juggle between managing day-to-day finance matters, month-end and compliance reporting, and the finance teams, which comprise over 150 people across Africa, and balancing this with the various strategic and investment projects I am working on,” says the newly appointed Deloitte CFO Africa, Jen McDonald. “A large portion of my time is also dedicated to driving the Finance 2020 strategy in support of the Africa Firm 2020 strategy, and managing a number of finance and IT transformation projects.” Prior to taking on the role as CFO Africa, Jen was CFO Southern Africa for 18 months. The Africa role builds neatly onto the previous, she says: “My focus was only on four countries within the Southern Africa region – South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. The Southern Africa role was the ground-



ing I needed for the Africa role, and many of the projects that have been executed in recent months were incubated during my time as CFO Southern Africa.”

An accidental accountant Interestingly, accounting was not one of the subjects that Jen studied at school. “I was very passionate about ballet dancing as a young girl, which I pursued very seriously for 18 years. However, I was also strong academically, especially in science and maths. Career counsellors advised me to pursue actuarial science or chemical engineering. I remember at one point telling my father that all I knew was that I did not want to be an accountant. Funny how things pan out, as that changed in my matric year when I made some friends pursuing careers as chartered accountants, which completely changed my perception and influenced me to follow that path for myself. I’ve

never looked back and love what I do.” Jen says her primary focus for the first few months has been driving the firm’s Africa Finance 2020 strategy, which she explains is underpinned by eight key focus areas that ultimately support Deloitte operating as a fully integrated firm across 14 countries in east, west, southern and central Africa. “We are a recently integrated member firm across Africa, and therefore a large focus is on alignment and integration of systems, processes, reporting and finance operations,” she says. Some of the things that have been executed to completion or started since Jen took over, include the implementation of a new Finance Shared Service Centre under a new finance operating model in South Africa, which went live in two waves on 24 October and 14 November

TRUST AND EMPOWER “One of the most important lessons is to trust and empower those who work for you. Nine times out of ten, if you do this right, they will share in your passion and rise to the occasion. In a leadership role, this is critical and makes a huge difference to the impact that you can make.”




2017, and a new finance call logging system to support the Centre. “This Centre will support the whole of Africa once common systems are in place,” she explains, adding that the process to establish the Centre also involved some restructuring. Jen and her team also launched a new finance website in October, rolled out numerous automated and digitised reporting solutions to support the business, implemented common models and target key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure business performance, and supported securing investment funding from the global member firm to invest in Africa over the coming seven years. She started a further two projects, though both are still in progress: evaluating the firm’s debt and capital structuring across the continent, which includes the setting up of a centralised treasury function for Africa, and implementing common IT platforms, including an ERP system, across all regions.

Loyalty Jen has worked for Deloitte her

entire career – 11 years – working her way up the career ladder, to where she is now. She believes that four things in particular have helped her on her journey: passion, excellence, learning and relationships. She elaborates: “Firstly, be passionate about what you do, and you will be recognised for the positive energy that you bring to any role. Secondly, pursue and deliver excellence always, as that becomes the backbone of your reputation. Thirdly, and importantly, have a learning attitude – I have always pursued roles that have allowed me to stretch myself, grow and learn more. Lastly, build strong relationships – align yourself with mentors who you can learn from, and build strong personal relationships with your leaders, and the people who work with you and for you.” Asked what has kept her so loyal over the years, Jen replies: “I’m very passionate about Deloitte; you could say my blood is green. I’ve worked for Deloitte in South Africa and abroad in Australia in both client-facing and internal

A better mom Jen is married to Bryan and has two young children, Emma and Charlotte, aged four and two. How does she manage to juggle a demanding career with being a wife and mom? “It’s always a challenge and probably never perfect,” she laughs. “I have a good support infrastructure and ensure that I spend quality focused time with my family. I love my work and believe that it makes me a better mom and role model for my girls. I like running and going to gym, as well as spending time with family and friends on weekends. Travelling has always been a passion. I also have a bit of a flair for party planning – I recently planned a unicorn magic party for my girls in September – and I enjoy home décor – my home was featured in SA Homeowner magazine in 2016, which was pretty cool.”



WHAT MAKES A GREAT CFO? “When you reach CFO level, the assumption is that all CFOs are technically competent, so for me, the differentiator is leadership. Great CFOs are good leaders who are able to successfully lead the execution of a vision or strategy.”

roles, and there are many things that keep me loyal, including the people I work with, and the culture, values and principles of the firm, which align with my own, as well as the opportunities for career and personal growth that have been afforded to me. The Deloitte purpose statement for our 2020 strategy is ‘To make an impact that matters’, and the firm empowers its employees to make an impact that matters to their clients, their communities and to each other. In all the roles I have played at Deloitte, I have felt empowered to do just that.” l

Think ahead for stellar results Business moves forward at light speed. Deloitte helps CFOs manage the complexities of their roles, tackle their most compelling challenges, and adapt to strategic shifts in the market. We have the thoughtware, tools, and insight to help you rise to today’s challenges and really shine. Explore our CFO Africa programme at Download our CFO Lens app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for the latest CFO insights. Š 2018. For information, contact Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. (CFO/NM)


Paul Fallon and Stephen Brickett

IFRS 9: it’s not just accounting Standard Bank’s Stephen Brickett and Paul Fallon explain what IFRS 9 is, how the group is implementing the new requirements, and what this all means for CFOs. By Toni Muir


FRS 9 is the new financial instrument accounting standard that includes requirements for the classification, measurement and impairment of financial assets. It became effec-



tive as of 1 January 2018, and is mandatory for all listed companies in South Africa. We spoke about it to Stephen Brickett, Executive: Group Financial Accountant, and Paul Fallon, Executive: Group

Risk, who have been joint project leads of Standard Bank’s IFRS 9 – Financial Instruments’ (IFRS 9) implementation project since December 2013. “The most notable change is that of IFRS 9’s expected credit loss impairment requirements,” Stephen explains. “The financial crisis demonstrated that certain banks did not have sufficient impairment provisions and, following the financial crisis, were required to recognise significant additional impairments – this is what some have termed as the ‘cliff effect’ or ‘too little too late’. While South African banks were fairly immune to the financial crisis, partly as a result of the conservative application of the

existing accounting rules, some international banks were significantly under-provided, which ultimately led to many financial institutions getting into trouble. Problems in the accounting standards, notably the recognition of impairments based on an incurred event, were pinpointed as contributors to the financial crisis, which ultimately resulted in the new financial instruments accounting standard. With IFRS 9 we will now need to forecast expected losses further into the future, which will potentially result in additional impairments being brought onto the balance sheet.” Stephen adds that IFRS 9, notably the new expected loss impairment requirements, has been a large project; one that spans the entire Standard Bank Group, including its African regions and all its subsidiaries. While he says that “the impact of IFRS 9 will result in a higher stock of balance sheet impairment provisions”, he is quick to point out that this is merely because of the change in the accounting rules, and does not mean that there is deterioration in the quality of the group’s lending book. He clarifies it quite succinctly by saying: “At the end of the day, the ultimate loss you experience with loans to clients will not change because of the new accounting requirements. If a client is going to default, the ultimate cash loss under both accounting rule sets is identical. All we are talking about here is the pattern of how we recognise

those losses, with more recognised earlier.” Stephen notes that IFRS 9 affects the banking worlds of both finance and credit, and says having both those areas leading and working on the project has yielded numerous benefits. Paul explains: “Even though IFRS 9 is a finance standard, the risk team has to determine the credit quality of our loan books and, based on that credit quality, what the future losses we can expect. We have specialist teams that do analytics and create mathematical models that determine the credit quality of each loan and from that determine the future expected losses that are required to be recognised in the group’s income statement.”

The business impacts of IFRS 9 According to Paul, there has been much talk in the industry on the business impact that IFRS 9 will have, particularly with regards to pricing. “I don’t think there will be much impact on pricing as the ultimate credit loss is identical under both the existing accounting standard and IFRS 9 – and that is what one prices for,” he says. “Perhaps there could be some adjustments because of the dilution impact on the bank’s capital, which will make banks think more carefully around higher risk loans. This is because of the higher probability of the exposure’s credit risk deteriorating, which will result in higher impairments. We will also need to think how loans are structured or offered to clients, such as the nature and

extent of loan facilities and underlying collateral requirements.” He adds that the project team has been quantifying what the IFRS 9 impact is expected to be, which has positioned the group to now more accurately determine the impact on its business. According to Stephen, the team has spent time considering what shareholders, analysts and other stakeholders need to understand from an IFRS 9 perspective, and what information the group should be disclosing. Standard Bank is expected to be the first of the large banks in South Africa to communicate its final impact, he says, and because the stock of balance sheet impairment provisions is going to increase, it is important to clearly explain the reasons for the change.

“The income statement is likely to be more volatile.” Paul states that IFRS 9 will affect key financial outcomes such as earnings and levels of capital. “The income statement is likely to be more volatile due to drivers that include changes in the credit risk of exposures and changes in the economic outlook, as well as the relative change in the size of a lending book from one balance sheet date to the next. A further




important impact will be higher day one impairments associated with higher loan book growth – this is a type of ‘tax’ on loan book growth and will need to be considered,” he says. He adds that IFRS 9 could mean a further review of the bank’s risk appetite, based on its forward-looking views. According to Stephen, it will also have implications for tax authorities. “We have had extensive discussions with the relevant tax authorities – both in South Africa in our Africa regions. While the tax legislation typically does not have an effect on the group’s reserves, changes in the level of impairments and the potentially more volatile impact to the income statement in future years will have a direct impact on tax, notably in the timing of tax cash flows,” he says. He explains that the impact of IFRS 9 on tax also has capital implications, as the bank is likely to recognise greater deferred tax assets on transition to IFRS 9, which will have a dilutionary impact on the bank’s capital. The tax impact and the ultimate impact on capital are items that the bank is considering in terms of the impact on its business and its shareholders, he adds.

CFOs and preparation for IFRS 9 Asked what CFOs should be aware of, Paul says that this is more than just accounting and reporting. “Being a bank CFO is going to become more complicated,” he says. More specifically he adds:



“There are more drivers that will affect impairments under IFRS 9 than the existing accounting requirements. Notably, the new requirements are more judgmental based and will hence create additional volatility in reported earnings. CFOs will need to better understand the links between credit risk, accounting, tax, and capital requirements, and the ultimate impact on the group’s financial results and position. There is also likely to be significant engagement with one’s auditors in terms of agreeing on judgements, methodologies, mathematical models, and future economic expectations.” Stephen believes it is important that all CFOs – not just CFOs of banks – know what the drivers of IFRS 9 are and how the new accounting rules will affect them. This is because almost all companies have lending or accounts receivable exposures on their books, he says. “A CFO’s current focus should be on getting ready for the change to IFRS 9 and to be able to engage with stakeholders such as analysts, tax authorities, investors and other stakeholders so that they understand the change,” he says. Paul adds that CFOs should also realise that IFRS 9 presents a onetime requirement to correctly account for the change between the existing and new accounting requirements within reserves. If this is not done correctly, a com-

pany’s future earnings will be affected, he notes.

A changed landscape According to Stephen, Standard Bank has been running both the new IFRS 9 models and the existing accounting requirements simultaneously, to coach the organisation so that it can seamlessly turn off the old and turn on the new in January 2018. “It is about training and preparing our people – not just in their respective fields – but also with new skills and insights which will ultimately assist the group in better managing its credit risk under the new accounting regime. It is also about ensuring that there is sufficient preparation to adopt the new requirements as businessas-usual,” he explains. “It is going to be interesting when banks and other entities with large loan books present their financial results – not only next year for the first time but also each year thereafter,” says Paul. “This is because each entity could have different economic outlooks, which will make comparisons between the entities more difficult. There will, of course, need to be additional financial disclosures to describe the expected economic outlook, which banks and other entities have not had to do previously.” Ultimately, the pair sum it up by saying that IFRS 9 is not just about debits and credits – it has many other very real implications for an entity and its stakeholders, too. l


An interview with UCT Graduate School of Business director Mills Soko

Focus on Africa UCT’s Graduate School of Business calls itself an African business school, but what does that mean? Upon his appointment as the school’s new director, Mills Soko set out to “develop a new vision for a diverse, inclusive school”. By Kate Ferreira


n January 2018, Associate Professor Mills Soko celebrated his first anniversary as director of the Graduate School of Business (GSB) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). With an almost three-decade association with UCT, Mills’s career brings together a lifelong commitment to education, transformation and policy strategy that he is using to help usher in a new plan and vision for the GSB, with a strong focus on regional relevance and curating local knowledge. “After my appointment was confirmed, I had three months to prepare for this role. I spent the time speaking with all the important constituencies of the school,” explains Mills, who studied at UCT in the 1990s, has further degrees from the universities of Stellenbosch and Warwick in England, and has been working at the GSB since 2006. “Through my conversations, I wanted to ensure

that everyone felt included and their input valued, but we also needed to get a sense of what the stakeholders of the school believed our priorities ought to be. My first important challenge then was to develop a new vision for a diverse, inclusive school.” By the time he sat down in his office in January 2017, this plan was ready to be outlined, but it is something, Mills says, that naturally evolved and firmed up over time. This process was also very important from a change management perspective. At the time, Mills says, the school had been through many changes. “Many of these changes were fantastic, but all change is hard, so it was a healing time.”

African roadshows The first step was to assess where they stood and to get a solid grasp of the terms involved. “We had to know where we stand, and what

we mean when we say ‘we are an African business school’,” he says. “We are located in emerging markets. We understand that we have a global reputation, with triple-crown accreditations, and partnership agreements with over 45 business schools across the world, but as I said to my colleagues, we needed to give practical expression to the notion that we are an African business school.” From there, Mills undertook a series of roadshows within the continent – to reach existing alumni, and to build or strengthen institutional partnerships. “I believe we can make a big difference as a school on the continent. We have to be responsive and relevant to the context in which we operate. That context is characterised by high levels of poverty and inequality, and widespread unemployment. As a business school, we want to produce great graduates and make money, but it can’t just




be about that. We also want to produce graduates who are socially aware and conscious, who understand that they run businesses because of the social licence or contract with the communities in which they operate.”

Relevance and impact Key to this was the question of what a business school can really do. Although Mills argues that GSB is a small business school “punching above its weight”, there are things that simply fall beyond their ambit, things that governments, or the NGO sector, are better placed to address. “So, what is it that we as a business school do well? We contribute by addressing the dire shortage of business and managerial skills in Africa. We continue to identify and nurture youth entrepreneurs, especially those from poor communities who can contribute to job creation and economic growth.” Mills argues that the Bertha Centre and Raymond Ackerman Academy are two centres of excellence in that regard. “Those position us very well in terms of entrepreneurial and social development. Additionally, in 2017, we established the Philippi Business Solutions Space, to interact with the local entrepreneurs of Philippi, and to work with them to achieve their goals. This demonstrates two things for us that are so important: relevance and impact.” Another big win has been the establishment of a case study writing centre within GSB, to bring together



and document the learnings of the academics and business people, curating knowledge and insight that is locally gleaned, understood, and contextualised. This is an additional way that Mills believes they are demonstrating those values of relevance and impact.

Agile academia Part of the rub for a contemporary business school, Mills admits, is balancing the competing cultures of business and academia. The latter tends to be slow and considered, while the former is chasing trendy business concepts like “fail forward” and “agility”. “This is a business. It is structured differently from a normal academic department. And the profile of our students is completely different from main campus,” he says. “One of the things we have had to do in this regard is have direct conversations with the companies that employ our graduates, asking what they think of our graduates, what their strengths are, etcetera. If you teach in a business school, you can’t just sit in your office. You need to engage with industry. But we still need to maintain our academic independence.” In this way, the pressures of industry are key concerns for the GBS. He adds: “Agility, responsiveness and adaptability are important concepts for us.” Mills is excited about the opportunities that closer partnerships with industry open for GBS, but also more broadly. He argues that

the business sector needs to take a stronger stance on leadership and holding the public sector responsible, so that our country and region can achieve their potential.

Demographic dividend “It is exciting to be a leader in Africa today because of the tremendous opportunities the continent provides. Africa has a lot of challenges, but I believe those are outweighed by the opportunities. It has been an incredible experience for me on these trips in the last year, sensing and feeling the sense of expectation and excitement, and the optimism and entrepreneurial dynamism,” he says. However, to benefit from opportunities like the “demographic dividend” of a youth-dominated population, or the double-digit growth of regional markets, the current crop of business executives must become leaders, he says.

“I believe my generation has been entrusted with an important historical responsibility to transform the fortunes of the continent.”

“I believe my generation has been entrusted with an important historical responsibility to transform the fortunes of the continent. Academics and business leaders have an important role to play. Leadership is thus critical to Africa’s success. Yes, there is a lot of despondency in South Africa at the moment, but we are a resilient people. We have a strong foundation to bounce back, and we have a strong and influential business sector – as well as media, judiciary, civil society. I am pleased to see the business sector asserting itself. I think it has been quiet for too long.” l




D'Shorne Human (Pearlstock) and Karien Jones (Barclays Africa)

Clifford Appel (Department of Social Development) and Jeanette Hern (Smollan)

Etienne Nel, CEO ZAR X

Exclusive insights at CFO Summit Finance executives who flocked to the last CFO Summit of 2017 in Johannesburg were treated to exclusive insights from Standard Bank’s ‘super economist’ and a thoughtprovoking panel discussion with business leaders.


ncertainty seems to be the order of the day in South Africa at the moment, with political instability, state capture and economic woes all contribut-



ing to a decidedly bleak forecast. Standard Bank chief economist Goolam Ballim shared his unique insight into the various political and economic scenarios that could emerge in 2018 in an enthralling

keynote address during the year’s sixth CFO Summit at the opulent Summer Place in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, on 16 November 2017.

Maia Matshikiza, Sihlalo Jordan and Delise Muller (all Deloitte)

He was later joined by an expert panel that included ZAR X CEO Etienne Nel, Deloitte’s deputy CEO Sihlalo Jordan, and Citi South Africa CFO Nico Botha. The panel agreed that business needs to take the lead in shaping South Africa’s future. “Many CFOs are more informed than CEOS by virtue of their proximity to data, but we need to step out of our echo chambers,” said Goolam, with Sihlalo issuing a clarion call for the country’s business leaders to band together to resurrect the economy. “As the top 10 percent, we can’t afford to stand on the sidelines or bury our heads in the sand. I am passionate about economic growth and its impact

on the structure of the economy. We have the opportunity to come out from the fire with a structurally balanced economy and bring meaningful change to the majority of South African citizens.” Nico urged the financial executives in attendance to work on resolving the thorny issue of inequality in South Africa and stressed Citi’s commitment to the country. “We simply have to address inequality in a sustainable manner. Improving the lot of the wealthy people at the top of the pyramid and waiting for it to trickle down has not proved effective. We will not be able to progress until we find a way to fix the problem. As business leaders,

we haven’t been effective in driving financial inclusion.” Etienne said he was a big believer in sustainability and driving financial inclusion and lived his values. He explained that ZAR X had done the hard yards in launching in a tough year. “Thought drives action, but negativity drives inaction. The biggest risk we face is the wealth gap. We’ve seen at ZAR X that the behavourial pattern of ownership in the economy is completely different to the employee or passive onlooker.” l

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Kumba Iron Ore CFO Bothwell Mazarura talks about mining, Marikana and technology

VALUE FROM THE LAND “I was born in rural Zimbabwe. My father was an agricultural demonstrator. He travelled on his bike to teach people how to farm. It was about helping black African people create value from the land they live on. I am trying to do the same in my role as a mining CFO. By Joël Roerig


wice during the interview with Bothwell Mazarura, the Kumba Iron Ore CFO remarks that he does not want to stand on the sidelines. The first time, he uses the expression to explain why he left Deloitte after 18 years to join the corporate world and get his hands dirty as an executive, rather than a consultant. The second time, he is talking about the role of the CFO in a modern organisation. “You need to get your finance team to think about how it should engage with the business,” he says. “We’re not just keeping score, we’re driving performance.” In a candid conversation with CFO Magazine, the former Lonmin manager talks about “purpose”, the pain of Marikana, the duty of the mining industry towards all its stakeholders, the role of finance as performance driver, the high quality of Kumba’s iron ore and the opportunities and challenges that technology brings. “Why did I end up in mining? I had to think about that recently, as even during my time at Deloitte I mostly dealt with mining clients,” says Bothwell. “I think it has everything to do with personal purpose,” he adds, recounting the way his father cycled the dusty back



roads of Zimbabwe to help farmers derive more value from their pastures. “Mining, and even more so, mining in Africa by its proximity to communities, the number of people it employs and its potential to generate significant value is well-positioned to create uplifting value for its communities and its people while playing a key role in the economies of African countries.”

Understand your purpose “I trained as an accountant, but I have always been busy with the question ‘how we can uplift people and create value from the land'," says Bothwell. “Once you understand your purpose, whether it is personally or as a company, profitability becomes the result and not the key driver of why we do what we do. That notion can be difficult for us as accountants.” Difficult as it may be, Bothwell does not shy away from sharing his approach. When he joined Kumba last year, he organised a strategy session with the entire team and to their surprise, they mostly ended up talking about purpose and other soft issues, which isn’t always easy for accountants. “We tend to gravitate towards technical issues and find it much harder to talk about ethics, vision and purpose. I do wonder




whether these skills are taught the right way when studying to become a CA(SA).” Setting a clear, uplifting vision for the finance team and the entire company helps focus the minds and can bring great benefits, Bothwell believes. “In mining we are always looking to become more efficient and more productive. As leaders we often grapple with the question: how do you get a person to go the extra mile? How do you get that discretionary effort from your team? I think it all centres around purpose and vision – if you are able to paint a compelling picture, if you create a clear idea of why everyone should come to work every day, you start to unlock the discretionary effort.” With that comes a collaborative leadership style, Bothwell explains. “When I start a new job, like last year at Kumba, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to achieve and how to do it. It is then easy to say to your team: do A, B and C. But if you are not in a situation where you have to hit the ground running, it is important to take the time to co-create a vision and involve the team in discussing and debating plans to turn that vision into reality. During the process, you learn a lot about your team and the result is a strategy that everyone buys into.”

ing and reporting and then treasury, before becoming head of group finance in 2014 – and acting CFO in between. In 2012, 34 striking mineworkers were killed by police bullets at Marikana. “Marikana is one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced,” says Bothwell. “My office used to be there, near that koppie. Something like this changes your life forever. As an industry we are continuously striving to accomplish zero fatalities. People can’t die just because they go to work. On that day... there were 34 of our own people who died in one event… I don’t think I will ever fully recover from that.” The event shook Bothwell to the core, but at no stage did it make him want to leave the volatile environment. “In fact, it gave me a lot of resolve,” he reflects. “I did not want to run away. There are things we need to fix and work on as an industry. We still have a lot of potential to contribute to the country and its people. For me, Marikana emphasised our duty as an industry to be profitable while looking after our employees and our communities. We also have a duty to make sure all stakeholders understand that balance.”

Long-term game


Although most mining executives now acknowledge that balancing stakeholders and communication are crucial, the reality is tough. “Mining is a long-term game – it can take upwards of 10 years to bring a big mining project online. We need to ensure that our regulatory stakeholders understand this and help us create an environment that attracts long-term investment. As executive management we have to build trust that we are allocating this capital sensibly. I have to convince shareholders that my investment plan will give them better value than when I just give them the cash at the end of the year. Once I have done this, I have to deliver. It is this delivery that creates value that can be shared by all stakeholders.”

After 18 years at Deloitte, eight as a partner, Bothwell joined Lonmin in 2010, where he headed up account-

After spending six years at Lonmin, Bothwell joined

“ Marikana is one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced... I don’t think I will ever fully recover from that.”



WHEN HE IS NOT WORKING... Bothwell splashes in the pool with his fiveyear-old son, spends time in the gym or helps his 13-year-old twin daughters with their homework, if his wife gives him the chance. “My girls had a grade 7 project last year to open a coffee shop. I helped them think about it and come up with the business plan for the project. My wife is a teacher and normally she helps them with their homework. This was my chance to help them and at the same time give them a glimpse of what I do every day at work” Bothwell also sits on the board of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).

Wescoal Holdings Limited, a junior coal miner with significant growth ambitions, as its CFO. During his year-long tenure as CFO, Wescoal acquired another listed coal miner, Keaton Energy Holdings, more than doubling the size of the business.

restructuring was undertaken to right-size the organisation and ensure long-term sustainability at lower prices. This has started to bear fruit, in combination with a recovery in commodity prices. Once again, we have become a significant cash generator as evidenced by the resumption of dividends in 2017.”

“But then Kumba came knocking.”

Iron ore Working for the Anglo-owned firm was an offer he could not refuse, says Bothwell. “The iron ore industry changed drastically in 2014/2015, with iron ore prices declining sharply, which placed margins under significant pressure. Kumba reacted by adopting a strategy of value over volume. Its flagship mine, Sishen, was reconfigured to a lower cost pit shell and significant

“However, I’ve been in this industry long enough to know that we cannot rest on our laurels. We understand our structural disadvantages compared to some of our peers in the form of longer distances to port and end markets and higher stripping ratios. Sustaining operational improvements becomes crucial. Conversely, Kumba is endowed with a high quality product – we achieve premiums in the market for our higher lump-to-fine ratio and a higher iron ore con-




GIVING BACK tent giving us a competitive advantage. Going forward we will look to maintain our competitive edge while ensuring the business continues to provide returns through the commodity cycles.” “As we become more efficient and productive, we deplete resources at a faster rate, bringing into focus matters of resource extension and growth. One of the areas we are focusing on to address this issue is investing in processing technology for our lower grade material. That means we can go back to our dumps as we can now viably process material that previously would not have made the cut off grade.”

Finance of the future “All this makes Kumba a very exciting place to be right now and it’s not often in this industry that you get to say ‘the future is bright!’.” It is up to Bothwell to craft a finance team that is equipped to deal with that future; a finance team that understands key business imperatives, its role in delivering those imperatives and its function of driving performance in the business. One of the biggest opportunities for the finance profession are the rapidly evolving technologies. “They are allowing us to build data and free up people to analyse and think about the data,” says Bothwell. “Technology is giving us better information faster and is making information readily available to the entire business. Gone are the days of pockets in the business monopolising certain information. Equipped with better, more timeous information and with more time to interpret the data, the finance function is better able to meaningfully participate in driving business performance and influence key business decisions. Furthermore, I have finance people in every location of the business, so we can really play a role bringing the business together. The question becomes: are our finance people actually equipped to do their new jobs now that they don’t have to spend time preparing spreadsheets anymore?”

Higher skilled Not only is finance changing as a result of technol-



The CFO Magazine interview with Bothwell Mazarura was also attended by Standard Bank CIB’s Head of Clients Luvuyo Masinda, until recently a CFO himself. Successful black executives often feel a lot of pressure to ‘give back’, said Luvuyo, asking Bothwell if he is also grappling with the question if he is doing enough. “What keeps me grounded is serving others,” replied Bothwell. “It is very easy to let the success get to your head. You need to retain some humility. That is not always easy. Although I always think about specific needs in the areas where I come from, there are a lot of needs everywhere around the mining industry. I feel with the role I have in mining as well as the work we do at CANSA, I am giving a little back.”

ogy, so is the entire business. “Technology and innovation are absolutely critical, but should never be for the sake of themselves,” says Bothwell. “They should help us achieve at least one of three things: reduce cost, increase productivity or make our operations safer. For example, auto-braking in our haulage vehicles or automated drilling, where the attendant now sits in a control room.” Of course, Bothwell admits, there will be less jobs in the mining industry in the future. However, the CFO hopes that the sector can help individuals thrive like never before, replacing low quality work with higher skilled jobs. “From the employee’s perspective, their manual unskilled job is evolving into one for which they are upskilled. Because of this, they are less tired after their work, creating opportunity to spend time outside of work furthering one’s education or spending better quality time with families.” l


BE THE CHANGE – IT’S THERE FOR THE TAKING The year 2018 has dawned bright eyed and bushy tailed, and if you’re like me (I call it my South Africanism) you have nearly limitless optimism about the future. By Graham Fehrsen


ith a rebounding rand, relatively positive market sentiment and a change in government seemingly on the horizon, it’s possible you could make 2018 your best professional year yet. Of course, you’ll need to look past government’s lethargy, Steinhoff taking corporate scandals to new heights and possibly your pension to new lows, and the fact that accountants are considered fair game for criticism by just about anyone. At least some of the critical environmental factors are there! But nothing is going to materialise unless you manage to grab the moment and focus your energy and actions. So to kick the year off,

I have opted to share the statements I plan to live by in 2018.

Wake up before I get up I was 12 years old when a school master used this phrase on me. “Fehrsen – you need to wake up in the morning before you get up!” he would say with the sort of authority and passion that made me stop and question him and the phrase. I was never good with authority or throw-away statements. The short version of this discussion was that I had a real awakening in my pre-teenage years that life required me to be actively conscious if I was going to be successful at anything. The alternative was to wander around half asleep and never take responsibility for my actions.

Later in life I realised that my “wake up” was as much about figuring out what I know or don’t know and doing as much as possible to understand that. Sometimes hindsight helps, but mostly it was about whether I was open to a new perspective which could shape my attitude. I’m truly grateful to have worked with and for some very talented and dynamic women in my career, mostly for the subtle, and sometimes less subtle, insights they helped me gain around the real issues women face in the workplace. The immensely powerful #MeToo campaign was a huge wake up to many men I have talked to over the last few months. Not because they didn’t see that sex-




ual harassment or assault was problematic but rather that their understanding of what constitutes harassment was reshaped. Perhaps most importantly they realised that the responsibility for the behaviour and attitude of men towards women in the workplace was theirs as individuals. A genuine “Wake up before you get up” scenario. I’m not great at New Year’s resolutions, but they’re essentially a set of “wake up before you get up” statements around my attitude to a new year and I understand why they’re important. Do you have a string of conscious statements about how you will lead/build your business/nurture your relationships in 2018?

Who I am will always be more important than what I am I’ve written about this idea more than any other, saying over and over that my work exposes me to incredible people. It isn’t that they’re smart CFOs, respected leaders, captains of industry or genuine groundbreakers that leaves an indelible mark on me. It’s that they’re very real – open, honest, transparent, curious and kind. Whether I look at public servants, corporate leaders, inspiring entrepreneurs or young people I’ve had



the privilege of mentoring over the last few years, the one thing that stands head and shoulders above all else is their ability to navigate change by embracing it – warts and all. And the only way I can see that they do this is by being real. Sadly, I’ve also met a string of people whose titles, egos and self acclaimed success lead in all they do, and they neither inspire nor have much longevity with people around them. I believe this set of ‘magic’ ingredients is what sets the great apart and helps them influence every environment they operate in, and leaves people around them wanting to make a meaningful contribution. In 2018 I am going to double my efforts to make a positive impact on people around me by staying attentive to these five principles – open, honest, transparent, curious and kind. I hope they will also help me navigate change more effectively.

Talk is cheap With all the rhetoric we’ve heard in the last year, I believe very strongly that courageous individuals who lead with their actions will help us really shift South Africa. It’s with this in mind that in 2018, under the slogan ‘Be the Change’, we will host some of South Africa’s most inspirational and action-oriented

business leaders, entrepreneurs and everyday people on stages and around dinner tables. Our hope is to inspire even more people to take small actions to help South Africa become the place so many hope it can be. I don’t think it’s enough to drive my actions through my employment platform alone, however, and so I will be taking on two other projects, one that’s new and one I’ve been involved with for almost a decade, to ensure that my actions are making a small difference. The first will be to offer my time to an entrepreneur and share what I have learnt, and importantly, do all I can to learn from their journey. I’d like to see this as a mentoring exercise, but I’m certain I will be the one that receives a mentor! The second will be to volunteer my time on an annual four-day mountain bike ride that helps raise money for a non-profit focused on educating children in remote wilderness areas. Neither of these actions will have a huge impact on their own but if all of us did a couple of small things... as they saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Live in the now The year ahead holds many unknowns for all of us. Our hopes

and fears, some rooted in the past and some ahead of us, tend to paralyse us into a constant loop of thinking and analysing our lives rather than living them. There is nothing wrong with reflecting on the past (I’ve already alluded to this) or imagining a better or different tomorrow but I find that too much of either of these diminishes my capacity for action and living. So, in 2018 I will let go of the things that are beyond my control, try hard to stay in the moment and live in the now. I was asking one of South Africa’s most respected headhunters how they cope with the pressure of their work and balance a young family and the response took me a little by surprise: “My thoughts are not my reality and if I come back to the present and live by what is in front of me I am infinitely more successful”. It’s taken some time for that idea to sink in, but the more I practice it, the more it works for me. Every effort I’ve made to do this in 2017 yielded great rewards for me and it’s definitely an acquired skill. Whatever your approach to the year ahead, I hope 2018 will be a richly rewarding year for you and that you’ll be a part of our knowledge sharing platforms in one way or another. l




An interview with award-winning Takeda FD Debbie Ransby about success in Africa

EYES WIDE OPEN What can a South African CFO do when catapulted into an Egyptian pharmaceutical business that is a complete mess, when people provoke you and refuse to shake your hand and when your communication gets completely ignored? If you’re Debbie Ransby, you turn that business around completely and have the last laugh. By Joël Roerig

I can’t sugarcoat it, it was very tough,” says Debbie Ransby, who won the Moving into Africa Award at the 2017 CFO Awards for her impressive FD work at fast-growing pharmaceutical company Takeda. While the company has expanded into many African countries on Debbie’s watch, driving the change in the Egyptian business and implementing a robust internal control system stands out as her biggest achievement. “When we assumed responsibility for the Egyptian business, the structure and processes had many gaps” says Debbie, who was not just a new broom sweeping clean but also a confident female making a splash in an economy almost entirely dominated by males. “Every single customer I met was male. One gentleman would not even shake my hand and the interactions with colleagues were also sometimes difficult. Personally, I don’t see gender as an obstacle. I just pretend the issue is not there. My dad gave me this very good advice early on in my career: always stick to the facts and don’t get emotional.” Immaculate preparation for meetings was Debbie’s weapon of choice and when – the ever-so-crucial – fol-



low-up emails were ignored, she remained cool. “It doesn’t matter how provoked you are, you need to stay polite and professional. Sometimes I draft an email, go for a walk and then come back to it. You can’t allow people to walk all over you”. Debbie calls the project “immensely satisfying”. “We worked very hard to implement a sustainable model in line with Global Takeda standards, and as a result, it now reports directly to Takeda’s regional hub in Dubai. We went through a painstaking process of a complete restructuring of internal controls, clearing up agreements with distributors and putting the necessary structures in place. We also hired a very strong local lady to head up the finance operation, harnessing local expertise and knowledge of Egyptian culture. It was an exciting challenge that gave me exposure to a completely different culture and global treasury dynamics.” In 2017, Debbie kept busy with replicating the Egyptian success in Algeria. During the last few years, the company has also started doing business in many other African countries like Kenya and Tanzania, while maintaining a presence in Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho. “One of the important things




when moving into Africa is to have your eyes wide open,” says Debbie, who worked with Deloitte on a thorough market analysis before embarking on new ventures.

Red flags During the CFO Awards interview, Debbie told the judging panel that one of her toughest decisions had been to decline the acquisition of a family-owned business in Kenya. “It ticked all the boxes for us and would have seen us gain a presence in 16 countries on the continent. However, during the due diligence process and in interviews with senior management over a couple of months, red flags began popping up. The family politics made me uncomfortable and there were foreign exchange, counterfeiting and infrastructure concerns. The margins were also low. It was a difficult decision for us to make, but my recommendation was to back away from the opportunity.” Growing up in Johannesburg, early signs were that Debbie would become a doctor, but when doing some

job shadowing after matric, she realised that medicine was not for her. She started studying accountancy, worked at the local Woolworths store and started waitressing at a restaurant called Cafe da Vicenza, right opposite the Sunninghill offices of PwC. “One night, I was serving food and wine to a group of people, of whom one turned out to be PwC’s HR partner Richard Irvine. I must have made an impression,” says Debbie, who soon after started doing vacation work at the firm and subsequently was selected to do articles. “I was at the right place at the right time.” Keen for more exposure to finance executives and eager to hone her people-management skills, she stayed with the firm and its ‘pharma partner’ Denis von Hoesslin for a few more years. “It allowed me to manage an entire audit. Denis is a perfectionist, so I would work really hard to make sure my first submission was the right submission. He was my first mentor. We share a birthday and still catch up once a year – on our birthdays.”

Work ethic After a few years, Debbie joined GlaxoSmithKline, where – as senior finance manager – she implemented JD Edwards’ accounting system and managed finance, legal, budgeting, forecasting, supply chain, business continuity planning and risk management. “Whenever a project comes up, I put my hand up,” she says, adding that this work ethic is also something she tries to pass on to her two young daughters. In 2008, Debbie joined the Johannesburg offices of the Swiss pharmaceutical firm Nycomed, which was in 2011 acquired by the Japanese competitor Takeda. “It was my first opportunity in a director role. I inherited a department where the thinking was quite rigid, that had no proper budgeting tool and not many internal controls. I thought it was an amazing challenge. I don’t like to walk into an environment that is easy. I like to fix things.” After two years, Debbie also added HR to her portfolio, immediately sensing this was a tough one. “Finance is black and white most of the time, but HR almost never is. It was very challenging and I had to question my own thinking. It was a brilliant learning opportunity at the time and I gained amazing insight into people and behaviour. Once again, it drove home the importance



Debbie Ransby with Luvuyo Masinda, Head of Client Coverage at Standard Bank CIB

DEBBIE ON WINNING AN AWARD “It is absolutely amazing,” says Debbie, when asked what it means to her to have won the Moving into Africa Award at the CFO Awards in May 2017. “It was unexpected, because there were some amazing nominees. It is great to be recognised for the work that you do. I always tell my children: when you work hard, you will be rewarded. This was a confirmation of that and a real confidence booster as well.” “The support I received after winning the award was quite overwhelming, Many people told me: well done, you deserve it. Winning the award has also opened doors. I have met a lot of people and always try to go to CFO South Africa Summits now. The events are great networking opportunities and it is nice to know that there is a community of people with similar issues and challenges."

of always remaining objective and not getting emotionally involved.” In the nine years that Debbie has worked at Takeda, she has overseen an aggressive increase in revenue, consistently outperforming the market, and the company has gone from being 35th to becoming the 20th biggest pharma company in South Africa, with the top-10 firmly in sight. While in Algeria and other geographies the company specialises in speciality care medication, its strong suit in South Africa is prescription-driven primary care, focusing on therapeutic areas of gastroenterology, iron, pain and pharmacy/ over-the-counter (OTC). Takeda also has the country’s

only registered melatonin. “We don’t have a huge portfolio, but where we play we do extremely well. We like to say we punch above our weight.”

Market dynamics The role of finance in the organisation’s success has been evident, with a highly skilled team, increased automation and financial systems that are impressing Takeda’s internal auditors. “I love working in this industry,” says Debbie, who says she is an optimist and certainly not the most conservative finance exec around. “I like the ethics. Our products aren’t desirable – no-one wants to be sick, but I believe that the medicines that we offer really make a difference to patients’ lives.”




“My philosophy is that life is what you make of it. You’ve got to put your hand up and take the initiative.” The pharmaceutical industry is forever in flux and registering new products is notoriously tedious. “Being agile and adapting to market dynamics has been crucial for me, along with managing expectations and internally explaining change for positive impact,” says Debbie, who has implemented some simple – surprisingly popular – cost-cutting initiatives in the last few years. “We have downgraded our fleet for our sales force. Some of the benefits include improved fuel economy, lower insurance costs, and a lower risk profile of the new vehi-

cles. Our representatives embraced the change as they saw the benefit of paying less tax on a monthly basis. They were also appreciative of the fact that we were concerned about their safety on the road, and wanted them to drive vehicles with a lower risk profile.” Debbie calls herself a people’s person with improved delegation skills and an ever-growing self-awareness. Gender issues or glass ceilings are not part of her vocabulary. “I honestly believe that it only becomes a barrier if you let it,” says Debbie. “I worked extremely hard to be where I am. You have to capitalise on opportunities. I have never let the fact that I am a woman interfere with that. Anything I take on, I do to the best of my abilities. I am quite hard on my team and set high standards, but I am hardest on myself. I had an excellent education and I acknowledge that this gave me a great start to life. But my philosophy is that life is what you make of it. You’ve got to put your hand up and take the initiative.” l


“You have to be able to think outside of the box. Traditional, South African thinking doesn’t work. Business practices are different, as are legal requirements.” 2. “Know what questions to ask. Be open-minded, consider all the options and don’t think you know all the answers. You just have to think of all possible scenarios and really apply your mind. That is one of the things I enjoy the most.” 3. “Challenge your own understanding of information. When you think you have all the information, keep asking questions. Ask the same questions in different ways. Get confirmation, especially as English is usually not people’s first language. Paper trails are also important.” 4. “Don’t be complacent. The environment changes all the time and what consultants tell you might already have changed.” 5. “It is essential that you have local people running the businesses. You need someone who is agile in their approach and can adopt changes happening globally. There is always resistance to change and it doesn’t help to bring expats into African markets. Appointing outsiders is not a serious long-term plan and will have a negative impact in the long run.” 6. “Don’t be surprised by people. Cultural differences are a huge challenge, which makes recruitment difficult. There are different expectations around salary increases and promotion and people do a lot of negotiating during the hiring process, sometimes with three different potential employers at the same time.” 7. “Be selective about which consultants to use to achieve your goals. On the whole, I prefer to develop internal capacity because often, the intellectual property is already there with our own staff.” 8. “Don’t look at numbers alone. It may be tempting to rely on big data, but in my experience, African data is still sparse.” 9. “Understanding the culture on the ground in other African countries is crucial to achieving success. This is a diverse continent with many different cultures and what works in one may fail miserably in another.” 10. “Make sure you are up to speed with politics and economic policy, as changes could have serious ramifications on your business.”



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South Africa’s new exchanges ZAR X, 4AX and A2X explained

The X Factor For decades there was only the JSE – and then in the last two years, three new stock exchanges received licences and another one has applied. Our senior editor Toni Muir chatted to the founders and some of the first listed companies to find out who’s got the real X Factor. By Toni Muir

As in all industries, we believe that competition is an important ingredient in creating a healthy, efficient and responsive market,” says Rob Katz, CEO of A2X secondary listed Peregrine Holdings. “I suspect in time we will see growth in the overall market as the various players compete on price, service levels, innovation, and so on. This has to be good for all participants; issuers, brokers and the end investor.” Eddie Fivaz, CFO of ZAR X-listed TWK, echoes this sentiment, adding that a more flexible and practical process will ensure greater simplicity. “I think there are great companies with great values that will list on these platforms to ensure value is unlocked. I think it will really progress, especially now in the New Year,” he says.

Kevin Brady


A2X CEO Kevin Brady agrees that competition is a good thing, and believes the increased competition


will do well to open and grow South Africa’s market. “International experience has shown us that competition between exchanges drives down the costs of doing business both directly and indirectly,” he says, also noting that lower transaction costs not only help boost liquidity but also helps narrow the bid/offer spread – thus improving the price discovery process. Furthermore, it lowers the hurdle for potential new investors and makes existing providers – in this case the JSE – more cost conscious, service oriented and innovative. Kevin also says that while the FSB has issued four new exchange licences in a 16-month period, the models of each entity are different, and each has its own distinctive value proposition. His colleague Fay Mukaddam, CEO of 4AX, agrees there could be better clarity on the differences between operating licences. To understand the nuances, she says it’s important to look at the licences themselves and the conditions reflected therein. She also expresses concern at the space becoming overcrowded, given the number of licences which have been issued in the last few years, and new ones in the pipeline – something the FSB is investigating. “My concern lies in, if something happens to any of the exchanges, we are all tarred by the same brush.

If someone drops the ball even once, we will all be judged, because they will judge one by the actions of others," Mukaddam says.

4AX In late August 2016, 4 Africa Exchange (4AX) was granted its exchange licence by the FSB. From the onset, 4AX set its sights on changing the market perception of stock exchanges. Its licence allows it to trade across all asset classes, in both equity and debt. Fay Mukaddam

“As a fully-fledged and truly South African empowered exchange, we offer a secure and cost-effective alternative to access and invest in local capital markets, catering for the needs of issuers and retail investors alike,” explains CEO, Fay Mukaddam. “We believe that our model will significantly promote and retain share trading, as well as savings, thereby broadening South Africa’s capital markets and contributing to inclusive growth and shared prosperity.” Asked what distinguishes 4AX from the other exchanges, Fay says they approach listings differently. “The JSE is geared towards the bigger companies. If you look at companies with a market cap of between R500 million to a billion that haven’t listed, they will find a home with us. We talk about responding to potential issuers of between R100 million and R1 billion – that differentiates us from the JSE.” According to Fay, the decision to set up 4AX arose in

response to a need created by the promulgation of the 2012 Financial Markets Act (FMA). “To contextualise this promulgation was the need for increased transparency and enhanced disclosure, and because the regulators and lawmakers wanted to start holding entities more accountable in dealing with consumers and investors – this along with the Twin Peaks discussions being cemented. The Act said that trading should happen in a licensed and regulated space. At that time, there was a great deal of “over-the-counter” (OTC) trading going on, including that within the big restricted share schemes, for example, Agri and BEE schemes. While there was nothing wrong with this, it was taking place in an unlicensed and unregulated space.” The new legislation and need for regulation created an opportunity in the market, Fay says, one which 4AX’s founding shareholders were quick to identify. “Because companies could now only trade in a licensed, regulated space, the Act was forcing companies to take action, though the only option at that time was the JSE. While we hold the JSE in high regard, it is challenging and costly to list there, and difficult for a small company. We offer a viable alternative.” 2018 looks to be a busy year for Fay and her team. “We’ve been inundated with applications from companies wanting to list, and we can barely catch our breath. We’ve got nine listings in the pipeline – local and inward listings, as well as dual listings and secondary listings. We are engaging with several other exchanges in terms of strategic associations, looking at increasing our staff contingent, finalising our new debt listing requirements, and looking at other products. It’s




CA SALES HOLDINGS – LISTED ON 4AX CA Sales Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of the PSG Group, had not been listed before listing on 4AX. Its listing was also Frans Britz 4AX’s first listing in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry category. According to Frans Britz, CA Sales Holdings CEO, the company is excited about the opportunities the listing offers for it to raise capital and further its growth and expansion strategies. “It also provides investors an opportunity to invest in a business that has firmly established operations in Southern Africa and up to 40 years of experience in doing business in Southern Africa,” he says. Frans adds that expansion is one of the entity’s central group strategies, which he says influenced the decision to list the company. However, they were looking for something different in the South African market, he notes. “We found the JSE listing requirements to be quite onerous and considered the offerings of the other exchanges. In the end, our decision to list on 4AX is because we felt their exchange platform and business model was best suited to our business and growth goals,” he says. busy and exciting and rewarding, and I am humbled and privileged to be the founding CEO.”

A2X A2X Markets (A2X) is another of South Africa’s new stock exchanges. It began trading in early October



2017 with three listings and four of the industry’s leading brokers on board. It provides an alternative platform for companies to secondary list and trade their shares, and by end 2017, had five entities listed, namely Coronation Fund Managers, African Rainbow Capital, Afrimat, Peregrine Holdings, and Sandown Capital.

PEREGRINE HOLDINGS – LISTED ON A2X Peregrine Holdings was one of the three companies that went live with a listing on A2X on 6 October 2017. “A2X had been Rob Katz engaging with us for some time prior to their launch, and, given our own position in the capital markets, we liked what they stand for – a young company using the latest technology and offering big fee reductions,” says Peregrine CEO Rob Katz. He says there is no downside or cost to a secondary listing on A2X, and that Peregrine anticipates that the lower transaction fees will boost liquidity in its shares and improve the price discovery process. “This has been the case internationally and should be good for our shareholders,” he says. While the full benefits of a secondary listing will take some time to materialise, Rob says they were “pleasantly surprised” to learn that A2X had managed to capture over 3 percent of activity in Peregrine shares in the first month of going live. Listing was a simple and efficient process, says Rob. “I think it took us no more than about 48 hours.”

TWK – LISTED ON ZAR X TWK’s listing on ZAR X went live on 12 June 2017. According to TWK CFO Eddie Fivaz, the company chose ZAR X because it was looking for a cost-effective, transparent platform and whose listing process is relatively simple. “We identified ZAR X as ticking all those boxes. It was a perfect match for what we were looking for,” he says. “It was hard work because we did it all internally – myself and Tinus Potgieter, the company secretary. We didn’t have consultants helping us with the process.” TWK’s listing price started at around R12.30 and Eddie says the highest price achieved by late December was R14.50. Overall, they’re happy with the performance, he says. “I think we’ll see some good movement and volumes after we publish the 2017 financials from 2018 onwards.” Asked what they learnt in the listing process, Eddie says they found that it’s important to seek advice and talk to a lot of people, and to gather all the information you can, but then to just jump straight in. “There’s potential, so if it’s in your power, go for it. Do it.”

months to implement everything and open its doors for business, from the time it received its licence. Despite this, a combination of great people and good planning made this possible, he says. “Six months is a short period Eddie Fivaz when you think about the impact on the markets. And from a stockbroking perspective, going through the internal process to get approval to be part of a new exchange, and having the correct systems and post-trade systems in place, was a big ask for the large brokers to achieve in a short amount of time.” As for the response the exchange has thus far received, Kevin says they have had a great take-up from SA’s leading brokers but that issuers are taking a little longer. “It’s a big mind shift. Corporate South Africa has never known anything other than a sole provider – the JSE – and yet now they’re seeing lots of change in a short space of time. These things are not one-day races.” While it’s still early days, the company is encouraged by its momentum and the progress made to date, he adds.

While other new exchanges received quite a bit of press coverage while awaiting licence approval, A2X crept onto the board rather quietly. CEO Kevin Brady says: “ZAR X received the first licence issued. As a result, they deservedly got fantastic coverage. However, because they were first to go through the process, they also took a lot of the body blows, especially from the JSE. Observing this was a good learning experience for us.”


Commenting on how smoothly operations have gone since trading kicked off, Kevin says things were quite pressured initially, as the company had just six

In late August 2016, ZAR X was awarded South Africa’s first new stock exchange licence in almost six decades. Advanced technology allows ZAR X to offer realtime settlement (T+0), and thus funds and shares are




received immediately after transacting. ZAR X is the only stock exchange in Africa to offer this. Focused on building an investment culture for South Africans, ZAR X does not permit high frequency trading, derivatives or naked short selling. The exchange’s introduction of a principles-based listing regime reduces the complexities associated with listing, giving companies that would otherwise not consider listing, an opportunity to do so. The approach is significant particularly for restricted entities such as B-BBEE vehicles, enabling them to list and trade their shares in a way that ensures the sustainability of their empowerment credentials. According to Etienne Nel, ZAR X CEO, getting the exchange up and running was not without difficulty, and challenges came in many forms along the way. “The biggest for us was breaking the mould because, having had an exchange like the JSE operating a monopoly for 60-odd years, people didn’t really understand the impact that has,” he says. One of the greatest challenges Etienne and the team faced was the educational aspect of what they were trying to do, and getting people to the point where they understood that ZAR X was different and that it could – and would – work. “I’m talking here about the market – investors, the banks, the brokers, asset management firms – everyone was asking if this was possible,” Etienne says. He adds that for this reason, ZAR X’s first listing in February 2017, that of Senwes, was a milestone, as seeing is believing. “People saw that we could onboard a listing and settle a trade within ten seconds,” he says. Etienne says that ZAR X “breaks new ground” by oper-



ating a ‘restricted market’, in which holders of B-BBEE shares can realise value after participation in empowerment structures. “Until now, B-BBEE structures set up by, parEtienne Nel ticularly, large corporates, have been debt-financed and have limited lifespans (five to seven years), during which BEE shareholders gain no economic benefit,” he says. “At the end of the period, shareholders are paid a once-off dividend based on the growth of the value of the parent company’s shares. Their participation in ownership of the company ends when the structure is discontinued.” In addition, ZAR X pioneered the concept of BEE in perpetuity. “Transformed companies are therefore able to retain or enhance their empowerment profile in perpetuity,” Etienne explains. “The restricted market can also be used by other types of businesses that wish to apply particular criteria to share ownership.” According to Etienne, a further feather in its cap is the fact that ZAR X has been approached by several JSE-listed entities thinking of transferring their listing from that bourse to ZAR X. Until previously, companies could only delist from the JSE. “In a transfer of listing environment, investors’ rights aren’t prejudiced, so you now need to set up a regime that allows for the transfer of listing,” he explains.l

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CFO Awards nominee Umar Banda is making a difference at the City of Tshwane

The public sector as training ground “I enjoy working in the public sector, though, at the same time, it is very challenging... which is probably one of the reasons I enjoy it so much.” By Toni Muir


mar Banda is passionate about making a difference, which is one of the reasons he has worked so hard to introduce a CA programme at the City of Tshwane, where he has been CFO since 2014, of which the first three years were in an acting capacity. Nominated for the CFO Awards in both 2017 and 2018, Umar has been an important advocate for public sector CA careers. One of the ways he practically contributes to that is through a programme that offers opportunities to talented young graduates who want to become CAs but who didn’t make it into one of the big accounting firms. In 2016, Umar’s department was accredited by SAICA as a training office to train and sign off CAs. Following the accreditation, the department advertised positions for trainee accountants, receiving ten trainees fresh out of university, who have since started articles with the City of Tshwane. Umar explains: “The idea is that, within the five years I’m appointed as



CFO, to sign off a handful of CAs within the first three years. That’s my goal. It’s looking promising at this stage.” According to Umar, the project was a first within the local government space. Many local municipalities doing something similar are doing so through National Treasury, he explains, while the City of Tshwane is doing it directly through SAICA, and providing the training and administration of the programme internally. The programme comes with significant benefits, says Umar. “We’ll be able to produce a high calibre of CAs, first and foremost, with a specialisation in the public sector – municipalities in particular. Going forward, those are the kind of finance professionals we want.” To encourage more aspirant young finance professionals to take up a career in the public sector, Umar says we need to do away with the misconceptions. “Before you even move into the public sector, do your research and find out about

the annual report of the municipality, and try to get a sense of the kind of activity that goes on there. In some instances, you’ll also get a sense of any technical issues that are sitting in that space. If you’re perhaps not able to do that, many municipalities offer internships, which present a great opportunity for people to get a sense of the workings of the municipality without binding themselves to a long contract.”

Impact Not only is a career in the public sector an incredible opportunity to learn and get extremely diverse exposure, it also allows you to make a difference, Umar argues. “I think that, as a public servant, especially a senior one, you’ve got an opportunity to be part of decisions that have an impact on people’s lives. Being involved in that decision-making is probably one of the more rewarding aspects of working in a municipality.” “In many instances you get the sense that the public sector is




a dumping ground for the private sector and those who can’t find jobs elsewhere. In reality, it’s an area with such knowledge and plentiful challenges, that if you’re working in the public sector, you come out an even better professional.”

linked to a professional body.

knowledge is so important.”

Good values

Oftentimes, the environment is quite politically driven, he says, which one needs to be mindful of: “As a professional, you don’t want to be coerced into a decision that will affect your professional ethics. There’s a healthy relationship between yourself and your political principles. You, as a person, should not deviate from your values as a South African. It is possible to uphold your values and still maintain your reputation.”

He continues: “Back when I first applied for the CFO position here, one of my mentors from my previous work place offered me employment in a private entity. She also tried to discourage me from taking this public sector position, speaking a lot about reputation. As a professional, a lot of us are worried about reputation and how it could be impacted by what’s coming out of that space. People think that when you’re in the public sector, you slack off and don’t do much. I think we haven’t exposed a lot of people to what really happens in the public sector, especially CAs. As a CA, I enjoy a good challenge, and being able to respond to that challenge with a viable solution. When you’re on the outside, you don’t get an opportunity to understand what those challenges are and how you, as a professional, can contribute to that.”

In South Africa, criticism is commonly directed at public sector entities, including those who staff them. To achieve a positive outcome from this, Umar says it’s important to focus on understanding the vision and goals of your employer, as this becomes a significant driver in ensuring a good outcome. “In the public sector, when you as a person have good values that you live by, and those values are consistent with the constitution, that makes it easier for you to take the criticism that comes because you know you’re treating people with respect and using public funds in an economical way,” he says. “Criticism will come, but as an individual, you will have the knowledge of how you are practising those values within a municipal space, and how that contributes to achieving the vision and goals. Nothing sustainable has ever been achieved over a short time. To really have an impact and make a change, you must have sight of where you want to go. If you’re steadfast, you will be able to track your progress getting there.”

Umar believes that public sector officials don’t do enough to promote professionalism within the space, or to make it a place of choice for finance professionals. In this regard, he says he would really like to implement a series of changes, particularly linked to professionalising finance within the municipal space, for instance, ensuring people have their minimal qualifications and competencies, and that they’re ideally

For Umar, honesty and integrity are some of the more important traits that help cultivate resilience and enable one to build a successful career in the public sector. Understanding the legislation is also crucial, he says. “The public sector is so vast that you cannot survive if you don’t understand the legislation within which you are working. So, you must have a passion for learning and development, as well as mentoring and coaching. Transfer of



Emotional stability Umar says that, in the ten-plus years he has been working, one thing he has picked up is that the rate of change requires different leaders at different points in time. “When I started in the city, I picked up that one needs to be a very visionary leader; be able to learn, teach and accommodate changes in the environment you are working in, and respond to change with a strong business ethic, honesty and integrity within the team itself.” Emotional stability worked in his favour, he says. “We get very frustrated, it is a very stressful environment, but that should not affect how you interact with the team. I am optimistic and enthusiastic. I have a lot of energy, which the team can feed off.”

“You are only as good as your team, so I put a lot of emphasis on teamwork.”

Development of employees is also very important to him: “You are only as good as your team, so I put a lot of emphasis on teamwork. That allows me to engage. I want an adult relationship with my people, not: I direct and you execute. It is very important to have empathy and put yourself in another person’s shoes. Without trust, it is very difficult to get any effort from the guys.”

Studious Umar is the studious type, and says he’s itching to get back to the books. “I think, as a person, you cannot ever have enough knowledge. I’ve been thinking about doing my Master’s. I want to concentrate on local government finance or development finance. I recently got involved in C40 Cities Climate, which helped me to understand the impact of cities on climate change, and how financial professionals can contribute to renewable energy or sustainability projects to turn around our contribution to the environment.” Umar has been nominated for the CFO Awards for the second year in a row, and calls the nomination “awesome”. He says: “I shared it with my team and, as a collective, we are really excited about the nomination because it identifies the quality of finance professionals in the industry. As much as they can be different across industries, finance professionals can showcase the kind of contributions we make as professionals to our country and economy. Traditionally, people expect finance professionals to be dull and boring, and lack creativity. It think these awards give us an opportunity to think outside the box.” l

CATCH AND RELEASE “I don’t get enough time to relax and unwind. I guess when you’re in such a senior position, you’ve dedicated most of your time to the public service,” says a contemplative Umar. “However, I think it’s important to find time to do things outside of work. I like to fish – catch and release – I try do this four to six times a year. I have a wife and two children – a son aged ten and a daughter aged six. We do fun stuff together – I like adventure, so, being out in the bush, quad biking. I’ve also recently started motorbiking and bought a road bike. If things at the office aren’t too busy, it’s nice to take the afternoon off, come home early and surprise my family.”




An introduction to Imperial Holdings CFO Mohammed Akoojee

“I had to punch above my weight” “Don’t over-analyse a new career opportunity. If something feels right, gives you better experience and adds to your existing skill set, take it and figure the rest out later,” says Imperial CFO Mohammed Akoojee. By Toni Muir


ohammed Akoojee believes that when things work out in a certain, unexpected way and you look back and connect the dots from where you are to where it all began, things somehow make sense. “My first choice at university was medicine but I didn’t get in,” the group CFO of Imperial Holdings says, recounting one of those pivotal moments in his career. “I was good with numbers and produced good results in maths and accounting at school, and always said I wouldn’t be upset with a career in accounting – as a fall-back.” And what a fall-back it proved to be, with Mohammed now being one of the youngest CFOs of a JSE-listed company. “Where I am now, looking back, this was the best thing that happened to me,” he says, adding



that there was “no human hand” that guided him to his current role. “During my career so far, I have been blessed with opportunities that I pursued. I was faced with key decision points along the way; choices I had to make that ultimately led to where I am today.”

Dream job

After qualifying as a CA in 2003, Mohammed set his sights on being a banker. “It was something that appealed to me, the idea of a Wall Street banker,” he says. However, as with medicine, he couldn’t get into investment banking – a very competitive and cut-throat field at the time. Instead, he took a sideways step, accepting a job as an equity analyst for a stock broker, Nedcor Securities. Through this role, Mohammed says he learnt a great deal about different industries, the stock market, and company valuations and analysis, and also built

Fast-forward to January 2006, and Mohammed found himself working in his dream job – as a corporate financier at Investec. His experience as an analyst gave him a great advantage, as he already analysed many of the companies on the stock exchange and had a good contact base with CEOs to whom he could pitch deals. He worked at Investec for close on four years before a new opportunity arose with Imperial. Mohammed had advised Imperial on a transaction and impressed them with his knowledge and talent, which lead to him being offered a position as

good relationships with numerous CEOs with whom he interacted – all things that would prove to be a great base for the role in investment banking that he knew would one day come.




their in-house M&A executive – one he graciously accepted. It was the start of a career at Imperial that is still going strong eight years later. At the same time as Mohammed took on his role as executive director – strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and investor relations, Imperial began an expansion of its logistics business into the African continent – a region where it had no meaningful footprint but saw immense opportunity. Mohammed recalls: “It was an exciting time for me as I learnt a lot, travelled continuously and got to know many people. The exposure to fast-growing diverse economies, industries and countries was invaluable experience. I enjoy travelling into Africa. It’s fascinating, with bountiful opportunities. During this time, I got to know the businesses and people in our African regions logistics business really well.” In 2015, after six years in the M&A role, Mohammed decided it was time for him to gain more business and operational experience to add to his deal-making abilities, and he took on the role of CEO of Imperial Logistics – African regions, overseeing operations across 11 countries on the continent, outside of South Africa. He calls it a “great two years” and says through it, he learnt what it meant to run a business across multiple and complex jurisdictions. “There was never a dull moment during my tenure as CEO of the African regions business. Each day was different,” he says. “It was exciting, and leading great, talented people in different



countries was fulfilling and a massive learning curve at the same time.”

Big shoes During the company’s most recent restructure, Mohammed was brought back to the group’s head office and is now the group CFO for Imperial Holdings. He replaced multiple-CFO-Award-winning Osman Arbee, who Mohammed calls a “seasoned and highly respected CFO”, adding that Osman left “big shoes to fill”. He says: “It’s a great opportunity but I’ve got to prove myself. It’s a job with immense responsibility. I am focused and concentrating on delivering to the best of my ability. If I do this job well, I can look back and see it as one of the most important successes of my career.” Mohammed says the transition back into the finance office was simple enough, and credits the years of experience he gained in between for this. “As the executive responsible for M&A, I had a good understanding of the key functions of the head office as I worked closely with the group CEO and CFO for six years before moving to my role in Africa. That experience and knowledge base made my transition into the CFO role easier,” he says. “Before I became the CEO for Logistics – African regions, I was very much a functional specialist, looking at deals from a corporate finance perspective. The role in Africa helped me to develop a completely different skill set – leadership, operational expertise, leading through people and strategy.”

This knowledge base is critical to his role as CFO, Mohammed says. “If you’re a functional guy who hasn’t been involved in the business, it’s very hard to be practical and make decisions having thought through the various issues. Ultimately, we must make decisions that impact the business. If you don’t understand the dynamics of business, it’s hard to make decisions about strategy, people and capital allocation – a key responsibility in my current role as CFO.” Mohammed adds that through his M&A and investor relations role, he got to know the company very well as he had to present the company to the investment community, with the CEO. “That forced me to understand the business in depth – bearing in mind that Imperial comprises several different businesses across many jurisdictions. My experience to date has been very useful and valuable and I see that as one of my key success factors.”

Punching “You go through different challenges throughout your career and each one at that time seems more

“It’s one thing to get promoted and get the opportunities, but you’ve also got to up your game and deliver.”

insurmountable than the previous,” says Mohammed. Sitting around boardroom tables with colleagues who are far senior to him in terms of business experience can be challenging, he says. “I became an exco member of Imperial Holdings at the age of 32, and there were people sitting on the exco who were well over their 50s and who had seen many business cycles and had far more experience than me. I had to challenge their views with mine, add value and punch above my weight. I’ve had to do that for most of my career,” he says. However, Mohammed says, he considers himself fortunate to have been in these positions and to be afforded such great opportunities to begin with. “Now, at 38 years of age, I’ve become the CFO of a very large, listed company on the JSE, which is a privilege not many get, so I count my blessings and look back at those challenges as key development years in my career. It’s one thing to get promoted and get the opportunities, but you’ve also got to up your game and deliver. This can be daunting and you’ve got to have the courage and confidence to do it. It’s not that you have to prove anything but you’ve got to be conscious of your role and responsibilities, and deliver.” According to Mohammed, the group’s executive team is an effective joining together of minds, as each member brings a unique skill set and viewpoint, and different experiences to the table. When a difficult matter arises, each is given the chance to put their position forward, before a “good, robust

MOHAMMED ON TAKING OPPORTUNITIES “When good opportunities get presented to you in your life, take them. Don’t fear responsibility and be scared to make mistakes, as you will learn from them. Don’t over-analyse a new career opportunity. If something feels right, gives you better experience and adds to your existing skill set, take it and figure the rest out later. Don’t be shy of opportunity because you never know where you’ll end up. After I became a CA I wanted to work in investment banking but I couldn’t get in; it was very competitive. Instead, I became an equity analyst for a stock broker. I never stopped pursuing that dream and 18 months later, I got in. When you make decisions about moving to a new job, do it in such a way that it helps you get where you want to go. Take the gap if it’s presented. Often, people are scared of change. Don’t be. Change often brings renewed prosperity.”




discussion” ensues. “We discuss it and look at it from different angles, and, as a collective, take a decision balancing the pros and cons. It might not be what you had in mind going into the meeting, but it is important that there is an alignment on the decision once it’s made,” he says.

Custodians According to Mohammed, Imperial Holdings is the custodian of strategy, capital, succession and governance for the group, and as such, the CFO role has a different dimension to that of an operating business unit or division. “In a group like Imperial, which has operations in both the logistics and motor industries, Imperial Holdings, as the holding company, is the custodian of capital. Sourcing, allocating and controlling capital to achieve returns on invested capital superior to peers in similar sectors and businesses is a key priority and objective,” he says. Maximising returns on capital and ensuring it is allocated to areas with growth potential, and which are aligned with the company’s strategy, is the biggest focus, adds the finance head. His division is responsible for financial reporting and the integrated report, tax, accounting, treasury, investor relations, and everything pertaining to its listing on the JSE. According to Mohammed, his focus since taking over the role has been on three areas: effective forex management, presenting the company in a way that is simple to



understand so that investors can value the businesses appropriately, and effective balance sheet and capital management.

FX committee While Imperial has always had an established forex treasury function, it has set up a formal FX committee that looks at the group’s FX exposures and, based on this, implements appropriate hedging and forward cover strategies to mitigate FX risk, says Mohammed. “This was set up to reinforce our focus on forex, given the volatility of the rand,” he explains. How Imperial presents itself to the market is another key focus area, says Mohammed, as this must be done in such a way that the company’s business is easily understood, and the correct valuation for its logistics and motor divisions – two self-sustaining businesses – is easily apparent. The balance sheet is the glue that keeps the divisions together, Mohammed says. “When you’ve got two major divisions in one group, you get scale benefits and easier access to funding at the appropriate cost. So, the business is still funded centrally. However, our big job here is to ensure we get the right valuation for the individual pieces and do what we must to achieve that.”

Results “I would say 2018 is the year that we need to deliver on in terms of the plans and strategies we’ve put in place over the last three to four years,” says Mohammed. “This is a very different company today

“I’m ambitious, so I am determined to make this year successful for myself and the company.”

to what it was in 2014. We’ve disposed of many businesses we said were non-core and sold off several properties, and, at the same time, acquired businesses that are in line with our strategy. We’ve also restructured the group and simplified the reporting lines and management structure. If you look at our financial performance over the last few years, it hasn’t been great.” Mohammed adds that a lot of work has gone into positioning Imperial as two separate self-sustaining divisions. “2018 must be where it all comes together. While it is a tough environment out there, we’ve got to show that all those plans we’ve implemented have created some form of value to our shareholders. You can’t continuously use the adage ‘we’re fixing’. At some point, the fixing has got to show results,” he says. Mohammed believes he came into this role at the perfect time, too. He says: “2018 is an important year for me as well, having stepped into the role of CFO. I’m ambitious, so I am determined to make this year successful for myself and the company.” l

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EXCELLENCE Gunning for glory in 2018: 25 nominees, 10 CFO Awards, one CFO of the Year

South Africa’s best finance leaders On 10 May 2018, the fifth annual CFO Awards will take place, hosted at an exciting new venue, Constitution Hill in Braamfontein, with Deloitte as principal sponsor. The event has become the annual gathering that South Africa’s finance elite cannot afford to miss and is routinely referred to the ‘Oscars’ for South Africa’s CFOs and FDs. These are the 25 nominees, vying for 10 CFO Awards, including the coveted CFO of the Year 2018 title.


CFOs of the Year 2014 and 2015, Simon Ridley and Deon Viljoen



2014: Simon Ridley, Standard Bank 2015: Deon Viljoen, Alexander Forbes 2016: Reeza Isaacs, Woolworths 2017: Till Streichert, Vodacom

CATEGORIES CFO of the Year Public Sector CFO of the Year Young CFO of the Year Finance Transformation Transformation & Empowerment Strategy Execution Compliance & Governance High Performance Team Moving into Africa Finance & Technology

Ajith Haripaul CFO: EY Africa Ajith has been the CFO of EY Africa since 2007 and has had a distinguished career that includes stints in senior positions at the Kellogg Company, Megapro Marketing and SABMiller. He is a chartered accountant with an MBA from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Christine Ramon CFO: AngloGold Ashanti The Port Elizabeth-born executive is a chartered accountant and a graduate of the Senior Executive Programme at Harvard Business School. Nominated as a Young Global leader by the World Economic Forum in 2007, she served as CFO of Sasol from 2006 until 2013 and was also a CEO, COO and FD of Johnnic Holdings earlier in her career, well as occupying senior positions at Cooper. She continues to remain actively involved in accounting structures and is in demand for her views on digital transformation after taking the reins at AngloGold Ashanti in 2014. Christine won the Finance & Technology Award in 2016.

Jan Hofmeyr Dean Subramanian

Alvin Liew FD: Laureate South Africa After enjoying stints in various management positions at Sunway Group, KPMG and Aircel in Asia, Alvin joined Monash South Africa in 2013. The chartered accountant is currently the Acting CFO for Monash South Africa and Finance Director, Laureate South Africa, and is pursuing a master’s degree in international business. He is tasked with ERP implementation, the production of C-suite presentations and leading financial and strategic due diligence processes, among other duties.

Glenn Fullerton CFO: Nampak Before being appointed to his current role in September 2015, chartered accountant Glenn commenced his career at Deliotte, where he completed his articles in 1987. He then held numerous senior finance positions at Kohler. HL&H and Computicket, before joining the Malbak group in 1995, where he was FD in various divisions until 2000. Glenn then joined MB Technologies Group as CFO, where he was instrumental in building the group’s powerful financing and distribution capacity. In 2009, he became CEO, a position he held until October 2013, when he left on a sabbatical.

CFO: ArcelorMittal South Africa Chartered accountant Dean has 21 years working experience in the retail, air transport, property management and construction industries. This includes having more than 11 years’ experience in various positions at Aveng Limited, including FD and in both the construction and manufacturing divisions. Prior to that, Dean held several positions in the banking, airline and property industry and was the group CFO for JHI. Dean served his articles at EY and was seconded to New York as part of his tenure there. He took on his current role in August 2015 and also held the position of acting CEO.

CFO: OUTsurance Long-serving Outsurance CFO Jan Hofmeyr took on the role in November 2007 and has been instrumental in many of the insurance firm’s initiatives. These include the recently announced Outvest investment service, offering goal-based advice and passive investment solutions via a dedicated website and app, and a Sage ERP upgrade. A key consideration to incentivise your management team to think long-term is to give them ownership in the business, said the chartered accountant at a CFO event. This will help them understand that a hard decision today will have long-term benefits for them, as part owners of the business, in the future.



Book your seat for the 2018 CFO Awards today

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Nishlan Samujh, Group CFO Investec, accepting the 2017 Compliance and Governance Award


Joe Ndala CFO: AECOM Africa A strategic business partner, Joe leads, plans, directs and influences multiple finance functions. He started working in 1992 and took on roles in various engineering firms as a project administrator. He became a business partner for a project management firm AR Process Projects in 2006 and took on his current role in April 2014. Joe is a chartered accountant and holds a Master’s in Accounting and Finance Management from the University of West England.

Krish Kumar CFO: eThekwini Municipality A seasoned financial executive and academic with more than 35 years of experience, Krish served the city in which he was born in many capacities before taking on the mantle of CFO. He has also been a commissioner on the Fiscal and Finance Commission, a member of the South African Local Government Association’s finance working group, a board member of the Accounting Standards Board and current chair and former president of The Institute of Municipal Finance Officers’ CFO forum. The passionate civil servant has a Master’s in Administration and has contributed greatly to seeing the country’s third-largest municipality earn plaudits for its financial prudence.

Leon Serfontein CFO: AfriSam Leon was appointed CFO of AfriSam in September 2013, after holding a number of financial management positions since joining the construction material supplier in 2000. Leon has an intimate understanding of the business and expert knowledge gained through years of experience and was also instrumental in the restructuring of AfriSam’s capital structure. He holds a BCom Accounting and Finance Honours Degree from the University of Johannesburg and is a registered chartered accountant.

Melt Hamman CFO: Attacq Melt joined Attacq from the FirstRand Group in July 2013, before the property developer’s listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Prior to this, he served as credit risk manager at Nedbank, Head of Credit for FNB Corporate Property Finance Division and FD of Eagle Ink Systems Proprietary Limited, as well as filling the position of Chief Risk Officer of WesBank. He has extensive experience in banking and business operations. One of the people behind the creation of the flagship Waterfall City precinct, Melt has been picked to become the company’s interim CEO.

Liaan Kretzschmar FD: Jaguar Land Rover South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa Liaan started in his current role in January 2014, after almost two years at Volvo Trucks, where he was in charge of finance and administration across a number of truck and bus brands. Prior to that, he held the position of Group Reporting Manager at the McLaren Group and was based at the famous McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England. He served his articles with KPMG, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 2007.

Michelle Pienaar CFO: Marsh Africa Michelle did her articles at BDO Spencer Steward before assuming financial management roles at Alexander Forbes. She joined Marsh Africa, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management, in 2012 as the Head of Financial Planning and Analysis. She was promoted to her current position in August 2013. The chartered accountant has been an influential force in the multinational’s African acquisition drive.




JUDGING PANEL Nonkululeko Dlamini CFO: Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Prior to joining the IDC – a public development finance institution with the mandate to promote economic growth and industrial development – in September 2015, Nonkululeko was with Eskom, where she spent 14 years in various executive positions. She is also a director of Kumba Iron Ore. She holds a BCom degree and is a chartered accountant.

Osman Mia CFO: AstraZeneca South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa The chartered accountant and University of KwaZulu-Natal graduate assumed the role of CFO at AstraZeneca South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa in November 2013, making contributions towards expansion, transformation and systems integration, while also heading up the supply chain, IT, legal, procurement and SHE departments. He began his career at PwC as an audit senior, before moving on to enjoy a fruitful tenure at Tetra Pak. Now based in London, he has moved on to a broader role in the pharmaceutical firm’s international division.



Aarti Takoordeen CFO JSE Limited & Young CFO of the Year 2014 Ben Marx Chairman of the Department of Accountancy at the University of Johannesburg Brett Tromp CFO Discovery Health & Young CFO of the Year 2015 Carel Smit Executive Committee Member KPMG South Africa Christo Els Senior Partner Webber Wentzel Claudelle von Eck CEO The Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa Deon Viljoen Group CFO Alexander Forbes & CFO of the Year 2015 Kevin Black Africa Clients and Industries Leader, Deloitte Leon Crouse Former CFO Vodacom and Remgro & Winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 Mary Vilakazi Deputy CEO MMI Holdings Simon Ridley Former Group CFO Standard Bank & CFO of the Year 2014, Winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 Sneha Shah Managing Director Africa Thomson Reuters Victor Sekese CEO SizweNtsalubaGobodo Wiseman Nkuhlu Chancellor of the University of Pretoria

Peter Walsh CFO: Servest A dynamic leader, the University of Cape Town graduate joined facilities management company Servest in April 2012 at the age of 36, after successful tenures at Experian, the V&A Waterfront and Woolworths. He brought with him a passion for communication, leadership and the demystification of finance through partnering with the business. Peter is also known for his forthright views on transformation.

Pushpender Singla CFO: Vedanta Zinc International Pushpender holds a BCom degree from Bikaner University and graduated as a chartered accountant from ICAI in India. He has a wealth of experience in business and risk management, finance and accounting, SOX, IFRS, taxation and procurement. His long association with international metal and mining giant Vedanta/Sesa Sterlite Group began in 2007 and he assumed various management roles across the group until taking on the mantle of CFO in October 2016.

Rui Morais

Refiloe Nkadimeng Group FD: Thebe Chartered accountant Refiloe joined Thebe Investment Corporation as FD in August 2014, after holding various positions in finance, including Audit Manager at SizweNtsaluba and Group Reporting Manager, General Finance Manager and finally FD at Royal Bafokeng Holdings. Her responsibilities in these various positions included the full range of financial roles, risk management and corporate governance.

Rian du Toit CFO: Hans Merensky Holdings Rian has been CFO of Hans Merensky Holdings, a renewable bio-resource company with vertically integrated value chains, since 2002, and an Executive Director since 2011. A chartered accountant and University of Johannesburg alumnus, Rian is part of the exco responsible for determining group and financial strategy and is responsible for reporting, liaising with various financiers and shareholders and driving M&A transactions. He previously occupied a management position at PwC.

HOW ARE THE WINNERS DETERMINED? Between January and March 2018, CFO South Africa will interview all nominated CFOs to get a clear picture of his or her drive, motivation, vision and results. We ask each of the judges to be present during at least two of the interviews, which will be conducted by two judges and our Editor in Chief. The reports of these interviews are added to the dossier of each CFO and are used by the judges to determine their individual votes. The goal of the interview is to get insight into the CFO’s involvement in the overall success of the company and the way he or she has distinguished himself or herself. To help structure the interview, and to make sure we address the same issues in each interview, we have created a standard set of interview questions as a guideline. In the second week of April 2018, judges receive the dossiers with interviews and extra background information. Judges will be asked to score each CFO on the shortlist on a scale from 1 to 10 in the category they are eligible for, which will be clearly indicated on the scorecard. By adding up all the points we determine the winner for each award category.

CFO: Dis-Chem Pharmacies Rui has been the CFO and an executive director at Dis-Chem Pharmacies since August 2012 and boasts more than 10 years of experience in the retail pharmaceutical sector in South Africa. Prior to becoming CFO, he served as Group Financial Executive for 18 months. A chartered accountant and University of Johannesburg graduate, he previously served in a senior management role in the audit retail sector at EY, with DisChem included in his portfolio.

Sean Capazorio Group Finance Officer: Aspen Pharmacare Sean assumed the position of CFO at Aspen in 1999. The chartered accountant takes responsibility for the group’s finance portfolio across Aspen’s 60 businesses and is also intricately involved in strategic global transactions. The 50-year-old executive also serves as a Director of Beta Healthcare International and Beta Healthcare Uganda. His astute financial management over the long term has helped propel the Durban-based pharmaceutical giant to the forefront of the global industry.




Silindile Kubheka CFO: National Treasury Silindile is a chartered accountant and certified internal auditor with certificates in risk management, corporate governance and project management. Starting out as a bookkeeper at Ngubane & Co in Durban, Silindile moved to Nkonki in Johannesburg to work with clients in the investment and telecoms space. After completing articles in 2007 and a short-term contract at the State Diamond Centre, she joined the internal audit division at KPMG. Silindile joined the National Treasury in April 2016 from the AuditorGeneral of South Africa.

Tryphosa Ramano CFO: PPC Tryphosa’s distinguished CV boasts positions ranging from auditing, investment management and corporate finance to being the CFO of SAA from 2004 to 2006, and most recently the CFO of Wiphold. She was also instrumental in the listing of Telkom on the JSE and NYSE and enforcing the payment of R10 billion in dividends by public entities to government, along with serving in various capacities at RMB Asset Management and heading the Asset and Liability Division of the National Treasury. A former president of African Women Chartered Accountants, she joined cement producer PPC in August 2011. Tryphosa was also nominated for the inaugural CFO Awards in 2014.



Umar Banda

Udayan Sen CFO: BP Southern Africa Indian-born chartered accountant Udayan is a finance professional with 25 years’ post-qualification experience, with the last 18 years spent at petroleum giant BP and over 12 years in the UK. He has contributed to multiple functions in BP, including Group Planning & Strategy, Business Development in New Markets and Global & Regional Finance roles. He took on his current role in August 2015, which comes with a broad remit. His previous role as Finance Director for Europe & Africa entailed a geographic span of 30+ countries.

INTEGRITY OF THE AWARDS Integrity and ethical conduct are crucial assets of good leaders. In times where both the public and private sector are subject to important scrutiny, CFO Award winners need to be role models and shining lights of excellence. In this light, CFO South Africa reserves the right to publically suspend or revoke CFO Awards. This will happen in consultation with the panel of judges, if information about a CFO Awards winner becomes available that is damaging to the stature and integrity of the CFO Awards.

CFO: City of Tshwane Umar joined the municipality as an executive director in 2013 before being handed the role of CFO on an acting basis in July 2014. He was previously an audit manager at the Auditor-General of SA and a manager at KPMG. He holds a BCom degree from the University of Pretoria and has completed an executive leadership programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. The charismatic executive has managed to seamlessly navigate regime change while ensuring the financial wellness of the municipality.

Wayne Koonin Group FD: Omnia A former financial and executive director at Coal of Africa, and CFO at Platmin and Ivanhoe Nickel and Platinum, reigning Finance & Transformation category winner Wayne has an extensive legal and financial background and has served at board level in a number of sectors. The University of Toronto and Wits graduate has had exposure to various international regulatory issues, reporting standards and transactions, and has developed a portfolio of experience covering IT, legal, corporate finance and strategy. Now spearheading the diversified chemical group’s acquisition drive, he has been in his current role since August 2014.

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Jaguar Land Rover’s Liaan Kretzschmar on leadership, talent and the future

In search of authentic leadership Leaders become great because of their ability to empower others, says Liaan Kretzschmar, Jaguar Land Rover FD and nominee for the CFO Awards 2018. “When you look at real authentic leaders, people gravitate towards them. I can’t stress enough the importance of just being who you are and who you’re made to be. I’m trying to live up to this.” By Toni Muir

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a strong drive to succeed,” says Liaan Kretzschmar, finance director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. “My father also taught me something at a very young age: don’t do something unless you intend to do it exceptionally well. I still live by this.” Having clear goals and objectives helps maintain focus, says the finance exec, adding that being teachable and willing to listen and learn also brings benefits. “I try to be spongy and take as much onboard as I can. I’ve been privileged to work alongside some amazing and talented people and to learn from them, and to work at some incredible companies,



such as Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, McLaren, and KPMG.” Despite his career success, Liaan says he was never “100 percent convinced” about pursuing a career as a CA(SA), as he would’ve liked to be a pilot. “I love flying – more smaller planes than the big commercial airlines. However, I love and adore my family more. It’s such an important thing to me. Even at that young age, I knew I didn’t want to spend days and weeks away from my family flying around the world. Flying as a hobby is still on my bucket list.”

Under 35 A 2017 SAICA Top 35 Under 35 finalist, as well as a 2016 finalist, Liaan says being involved in the initiative confirmed for him the

wealth of “exceptional talent” that exists in South Africa. “We’ve got a burgeoning pool of up-and-coming young professionals – and not only CAs. Hearing other finalists’ stories and learning about their backgrounds has challenged me to think about my life and career a lot more holistically. Sometimes we define success narrowly, as what you’ve achieved at work. But being a part of SAICA Top 35 Under 35 forced me to stand still and consider what I’ve done outside of work; how I’m balancing my career, my leadership abilities and my personal interactions.” “I think in this world, when things can so easily get packaged and dressed up in almost any manner, authenticity is becoming rarer,” he says. “When you look at real




authentic leaders, people gravitate towards them. I can’t stress enough the importance of just being who you are and who you’re made to be. I’m trying to live up to this.” Liaan believes great leaders don't pretend to know everything. “In today’s world, it’s impossible to have all the answers. Authentic leaders are self-aware and vulnerable to admitting when they don’t have the answers, and who is willing to go out and find the answers,” he says.

Like a family The FD calls his team of 15 people a lean team, considering the size of the business. He says the team is like a family: “It’s the most amazing team and has a great culture. We often have lunches in the office, and I don’t mean that we buy in food. Someone in the team cooks a meal at home and brings it in, and we have these amazing meals together. Our strength as a team lies in working together and supporting each other when the pressure is on.” Liaan says his leadership approach is strongly influenced by the wisdom and ethos of John C Maxwell, who said leaders become great not because of their power but because of their ability to empower others. “As a leader, I like to have open discussions and try to break down any barriers of hierarchy,” he says. “Our team has open, robust and challenging conversations and in so doing, we come up with better answers than if problems were tackled by only one person. I



believe firmly in empowering people and including people.”

Savvy In his role, Liaan has oversight of both core finance areas and strategy. He says he has managed, over time, to extricate himself out of the day-to-day and leave it up to his managers, freeing up his time for more strategic decision-making. He excels at strategy, he says: “I’m quite a broad thinker and have an ability to connect the dots across multiple areas quite well. What I like about strategic work is that it involves broad collaboration and cross-functional thinking. I’m not the quintessential finance guy. I don’t believe you should be pigeonholed in your role. I think it’s more important to be proactive, to support the business and be involved in the operational part, and be able to link that all together.” A modern CFO role needs to be both operationally and commercially savvy, says Liaan. “This is essential for a CFO, especially given the speed of change in today’s business world. Ultimately, businesses want to all deliver and return a profit on the bottom line. That requires constant adaptation and adjustment, considering the pace of change in the world around us. The CFO plays an integral role in shaping responses and the development of appropriate strategies to respond to these changes, and requires the CFO to understand the impact of changes on the business holistically, to shape the most appropriate response.”

While the global economy has started to slowly emerge from the economic slumber of the last few years, South Africa continues to face several challenges. Jaguar Land Rover, as an importer of vehicles, is exposed to various factors, explains Liaan, including exchange rate fluctuations, general economic growth, consumer confidence, and spending power, among others. Moreover, the company does not manufacture locally, which means it must work that much harder to maintain its competitive positioning, he says.

Top line “We’ve seen, with the economic challenges, that a lot of consumers are holding off on large capital purchases, which has impacts on large purchases such as vehicle purchases. To mitigate this, we’ve been firm on separating the things that we can control from the things we can’t. We can’t control the exchange rate or the political landscape, so it doesn’t help fretting about how we’re going to respond to this. Instead, we focus on protecting our top line, which means supporting our retail network to maintain and grow our market share.” In such times, it is important to be cost conscious, he adds: “You have to maintain your cost base and keep your business as lean as possible, and also go after any opportunity for a saving. I’ve focused specifically on driving out wastage and unnecessary costs, for example, and introduced competitive tendering processes.”

“Authentic leaders are self-aware and vulnerable to admitting when they don’t have the answers.” Asked if he has achieved a worklife balance, Liaan laughs and says this is something of a challenge at present, but that he is very protective of his time with his family – wife Illana, son Luan (seven) and daughters Denay (five) and Arlé (two). “I do not check email over a weekend or on holidays. I refuse to do that. I believe that if I’ve done my job as a leader and empowered my team, this isn’t necessary. It’s also healthy for me to unplug.”

Life well-lived Liaan pauses before saying that work-life balance is a difficult concept because it implies that work and life are distinct and in competition with one another. “What

I’m starting to challenge myself on and consciously ask myself is, how does a life well-lived look, and that includes work. I’m trying to ask myself, where would my energy and time have the most impact? But it’s a continuous thing I’m learning. Sometimes we have to just cut and run. I’m currently reading a book called ‘Essentialism, the disciplined pursuit of less’, by Greg McKeown, and the first chapter has transformed my thinking. It’s a case of, we aren’t made to be doing 10,000 things at once and all at the same time, so how do we get to the most important things?” Liaan believes that, with the help of some economic tailwinds, South

Africa can and will rise to her fullest potential. He says: “I love this country. I think we’ve got so much potential brimming and busting to get out and come to fruition. I hope we can get things on track. I really think we can thrive. Personally, I look around us and there’s such an apparent need, homelessness and poverty and education. There is this thing in me constantly asking, ‘What am I doing to make an impact and leave a legacy on this world?’ I’m grappling with this. My greatest hope is that I find this one thing and leave a legacy and make a difference. So, one day when I’m not here, people will say I left it in a better place than I found it.” l



EXCELLENCE – the 10 most popular reads of 2017 Last year was massive for Finance people’s favourite website got a sparkling new design with greatly improved user experience. Readership grew to 20,000 people per month, mostly accountants, finance professionals and entrepreneurs. Here are the 10 best-read articles of the year in order of popularity. 1. Disruption alert: will CAs be redundant in 2025? 14 September 2017 This article explores the competencies that are required from CAs in the future with Mandi Olivier, senior executive for professional development at SAICA, who is responsible for the project ‘CA2025’. “We are experiencing a period of radical change,” she says. “Our emphasis is on the need for CAs(SA) to be relevant and to evolve as the process unfolds.” 2. SAICA took money from Gupta-linked firm 21 October 2017 The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) accepted a R1.2 million donation by Trillian in March of this year. In July, the SAICA board decided to pay back the money, a contribution for SAICA’s bursary fund for disadvantaged students, because of the controversies around Trillian. 3. Keeping up with the Kathans: Five siblings, four CAs, three CFOs 12 September 2017 Five siblings, five exceptional professionals. This is the remarkable story of the Kathan family: one medical doctor, one Deloitte executive, and no less than



three CFOs. We sat down with Veran, Christine, Justine, Mark, and Sunita to talk about the forces that shaped their lives, what motivates them, and their hopes for their children. 4. KPMG suspends audit partner 14 August 2017 A month later CEO Trevor Hoole resigned, along with a slew of executives, prompting an exodus of talent at the firm.

designation for SAICA members who meet experience and exam requirements. 8. Do you want to learn financial modelling? Meet Finance Indaba sensation Colin Human 1 November 2017 After the sensational success of Colin’s financial modelling presentations at Finance Indaba Africa 2017, we interviewed him for

5. When Sizwe Nxasana speaks about the future of education, you listen 25 August 2017 Free access to the internet and a focus on problem-solving skills and character-building are priorities for the former FirstRand CEO.

9. Finance Indaba interview: the rise & rise of Vusi Thembekwayo 1 July 2016 An interview from mid2016 made it in the top-10 after it went viral again around the Finance Indaba Africa 2017.

6. To change the future, we must confront the past, says Vusi Thembekwayo 12 October 2017 What do we mean by transformation? This was investor Vusi Thembekwayo’s burning question at Finance Indaba Africa on 12 October 2017.

10. Former KPMG chairman Ahmed Jaffer joins family firm as CFO 6 November 2017 News articles about appointments are always popular on Despite his resignation as KPMG chair, Ahmed Jaffer is still a popular figure in the industry. l

7. SAICA and CIMA work together to advance accountancy in SA 26 May 2017 CIMA now provides an expedited pathway to the CGMA

To advertise on, contact Ashik Ramkelawan at or 082 5709482

BOOST YOUR CAREER, COMPANY AND KNOWLEDGE IN 2018 Are you open to networking, sharing and learning? Do you have an active and ‘can do’ approach? Are you ambitious and willing to grow? Do you work as a finance executive at a top tier company or are you an advisor or supplier working with executive boards? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above then the CFO South Africa membership is a perfect fit for you.

Contact Sarah Chalmers ( | +27 82 859 1245)

2018 EVENTS TO DIARISE 8 Feb - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - JHB 15 Feb - ‘Be The Change’ Event - JHB 22 Feb - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - JHB 14 Mar - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - CT 15 Mar - CFO Summit #2 - CT 27 Mar - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - JHB 3 Apr - CFO Summit - KEN 10 Apr - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - JHB 10 May - CFO Awards - JHB 7 Jun - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - JHB 5 Jul - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - DBN

19 Jul - CFO Day - JHB 1 Aug - CFO Women’s Dinner - JHB 2 Aug - CHRO & CFO EA Breakfast - JHB 21 Aug - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - KEN 23 Aug - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - KEN 4 Sep - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - JHB 5 Sep - CFO Awards Judges Dinner - JHB 6, 7 & 8 Sep - CFO Journey 3 & 4 Oct - Finance Indaba Africa - JHB 25 Oct - CFO Dinner (Invite only) - JHB 8 Nov CFO Summit #3 - JHB

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CFO Magazine 2018 - 1st Issue  

The first issue of CFO Magazine in 2018 looks at SA's new stock exchanges, highlights the launch of Workday in Africa and introduces the 25...

CFO Magazine 2018 - 1st Issue  

The first issue of CFO Magazine in 2018 looks at SA's new stock exchanges, highlights the launch of Workday in Africa and introduces the 25...