Africa's Top 10 CEOs
1. Jacko Maree, Standard Bank Group
On the top of our list is a 53-year-old at the helm of Africa's largest corporation. FT dubbed him as one of the 50 emerging market business leaders who have helped shape the economic performance in their respective region, and we agree. Maree was closely involved in negotiating the impressive $5.5 billion sale of a 20 percent stake in IBTC Chartered Bank, representing one of the largest Chinese investments in Africa.
2. Pat Davies, Sasol
Next in line is the synthetic fuel giant’s 5-year chief executive. Davies has been responsible for various portfolios, including the globalisation of Sasol's GTL technology, and the group's oil and gas businesses, as well as Sasol Synfuels, Sasol Petroleum International, Sasol Synfuels International and Sasol Technology. He and the Sasol Group Executive Committee have launched a culture-change initiative that aims to entrench value-driven leadership throughout the group.
3. Sizwe Errol Nxasana, FirstRand Limited
With an increase in the amount and complexity of operational issues requiring more attention from the centre, the firm responded accordingly and Nxasana took on the role of FirstRand Ltd’s CEO back in December last year. Filling the boots of what Nxasana described as “businessmen of the calibre of the FirstRand founders”, he has already added significant strength to the Group’s central management team.
4. Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN Group
Nhleko became CEO in 2002 and has since made a major contribution to the development and growth of the mobile ecosystem. Under his leadership, the MTN Group accelerated its expansion programme to become the leader in telecoms in developing markets. In 2002, Nhleko led the management buyout of Transnet's 18.71 percent interest in MTN in a deal valued at R4.3 billion, while in 2006, he saw the company conclude the acquisition of Investcom LLC.
5. Stephen Koseff, Investec Plc
Having joined Investec in 1980, Koseff has gained diverse experience climbing the ranks in the business. Today, he is the CEO, Executive Director, Chairman of Board Risk Review Committee, and Member of Chairman’s Committee, as well as holding a number of other directorships across various leading financial organisations. As the recipient of various business awards, he is also a Chartered Accountant and has earned a B.Com. and an MBA.
6. Johan van Zyl, Sanlam Group
A position held for over seven years, Sanlam’s Group Chief Executive is the former vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Pretoria, and today also holds numerous Non- and Executive Director roles within the Group’s businesses. As Group CEO, he is supported by a Group Executive committee, as well as a small centralised Group Office, and is in charge of strategic directing, coordinating, performance monitoring and capital allocation.
7. Mohamed El Kettani, Attijariwafa Bank
Having begun his professional career with Banque Commerciale du Maroc in 1984, ENSTA engineering graduate El Kettani climbed the ranks while working through the 2004 merger with Wafabank. Later, in 2007, he was appointed Chairman and CEO of what today is Morocco’s largest and Africa’s third largest bank. As someone who is heavily involved in the Group‘s development, El Kettani is also the Chairman or Director of several of Attijariwafa’s subsidiaries.
8. David Brown, Impala Platinum Holdings Limited
Having joined the group in 1999 as Financial Director, Brown demonstrated strong leadership and financial skills that provided a smooth transition into a new era of leadership at Implats when he was appointed CEO back in 2006. He is also a Director of Zimplats Holdings Limited, Mimosa Investments Limited and Two Rivers Platinum (Pty) Limited and a member of the Executive, Risk Management and Hedging Committees.
9. Nassef Sawiris, Orascom Construction Industries
Our list’s longest standing CEO, Egyptian Sawiris has been a Director and the CEO of OCI since its incorporation in 1998, while he also assumed Chairmanship this year. Sawiris has overseen the construction activities of Orascom since 1990 and is one of the largest shareholders in and a Director on the Board of Lafarge S.A., the world's leading building materials conglomerate. He is also a Director of the Dubai International Financial Exchange and NNS Holding.
10. Brian Joffe, Bidvest Group
Since founding Bid Corporation in 1988, Brian served as executive chairman until his appointment as chief executive in 2004. With decades of South African and international commercial experience, he has been one of the Sunday Times' top five businessmen and was voted SA’s Top Manager of the Year in 2002 by Corporate Research Foundation. He also represented South Africa at the coveted Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2003.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.