Is Vodacom a ‘breeding ground’ for CEOs in South Africa?

Another Vodacom top executive flies away to join struggling South African Airways, the national carrier.

On the same day former Vodacom executive, Rob Shuter, presented his maiden financial results for his present employer MTN,  Treasury named Vodacom’s Vuyani Jarana as the new CEO of South African Airways.

Jarana is the latest Vodacom executive to land a plum job at another entity. The Vodafone-owned mobile phone operator hasn’t named a successor to Jarana. For more read: SAA Taps Vodacom Executive Vuyani Jarana as CEO

Vodacom under Shameel Joosub may be doing something right. Judging from the trend, It has obviously hired high-calibre individuals and groomed them for bigger positions.

For Joosub, Vodacom’s emergence as a “breeding ground” for CEOs may be both a curse and a blessing. On one hand, it possibly creates uncertainty for South Africa’s biggest mobile phone firm while on the other hand, it affirms the Telco’s ability to develop talent.

Vodacom Business - CEO Vuyani Jarana
Vodacom Business – CEO Vuyani Jarana (Photo Credit: YouTube)

The departure of Jarana may intensify speculation that Yolanda Cuba, who was seconded as CEO of Vodafone Ghana, may be in line to take over from Joosub. For more read: Is Yolanda Cuba being prepared to succeed Vodacom’s Shameel Joosub?

Jarana is a highly skilled executive, who excelled at Vodacom in several positions.

He and Shuter are not the first executives to be snapped away from Vodacom after rising to the top.

That said, TechFinancials believes that the success of Jarana at SAA is incumbent on the national treasury removing incumbent chairwoman, Dudu Myeni, whose contract ends on August 31.

In the past year rival MTN has been a leader in recruiting executives from Vodacom. These former Vodacom executives are now part of MTN’s team that aims to conquer Africa and the Middle East.

Last July MTN appointed Godfrey Motsa – former Vodacom Chief Officer Consumer Business Unit at Vodacom – as its SEA region vice president. Motsa had been CEO of Vodacom Lesotho and Vodacom DRC. In March Motsa was promoted to a CEO of MTN South Africa. For more read: MTN Shuffle is an Affirmation that Young Black Executives Have a Place in Corporate…

Rob Shuter, MTN's CEO
Rob Shuter, MTN’s CEO (Photo Credit: African Business Magazine)

At the same time, MTN appointed Shuter as CEO.

Shuter, a South African-born executive who led Vodafone’s European cluster as CEO, started his new role at MTN in March.

In December 2016, MTN recruited former CEO of Vodafone Germany, Jens Schulte-Bockum, as its chief operating officer to replace Jyoti Desai, who retired.

Schulte-Bockum was the CEO of Vodafone Germany between 2012 and 2013.

Vodacom’s boss Joosub has been at the helm of the mobile phone operator since 2012 after replacing Pieter Uys.

Shameel Joosub, Vodacom CEO
Shameel Joosub, Vodacom CEO

The operator is profitable and is in a process of finalising a R35-billion deal to buy a 35% stake in Kenya’s mobile phone operator Safaricom. For more read: Vodacom is Buying Strategic Stake in Kenya’s Safaricom for R35 billion

Joosub does not appear to be going anywhere soon, but the regular loss of executives most likely puts a spanner in any succession plans Vodacom may have.

In 2012, Sipho Maseko relinquished his position as managing director of Vodacom South Africa and chief operating officer of Vodacom Group.

Maseko is presently Telkom as CEO and has done a sterling job to turn around the ailing fixed-line telephone group. For more read: SA’s Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko isn’t declaring victory yet, but he is targeting pole position

Telkom Boss Sipho Maseko
Telkom Boss Sipho Maseko (Photo Credit: Telkom Annual Report)

 

Other high-level departures from Vodacom in recent years include talented executives such as Romeo Kumalo, Peter Matlare, Nku Nyembezi.

Khumalo is running his own venture capital, while Matlare had a stint as CEO of TigerBrand and Nyembezi, had a tenure as boss of the steel maker ArcelorMittal.

In April, Vodacom chairman Peter Moyo left the Telco to join Old Mutual as CEO of Emerging Markets.

Vodacom needs to review its staff retention policy or forever have a shifting succession plan.

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