Executive profile: Bongani Nqwababa, Sasol
Bongani Nqwababa is the Executive Director, Joint-President and Chief Executive Officer of Sasol, Africa’s largest energy company.
Sasol is headquartered in South Africa and has a market capital of over $34 billion. The company employs over 30,000 people in more than 30 countries and is the leading business in Africa in the commercial production and marketing of liquid fuels and chemicals. The business is quickly expanding into oil and gas exploration.
Sasol has more than 132,000 followers on LinkedIn, over 37,000 followers on Twitter and even a YouTube account where it regularly uploads videos about how the business is progressing and how projects are coming together.
Mr Nqwababa is South African in nationality and was born in 1966. He is a qualified chartered accountant and has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He became the company’s Joint-President and CEO on July 1, 2016 after previously being the businesses Group Chief Financial Officer. He shares the position of Joint-President and CEO with Stephen Cornell who was also appointed on July 1, 2016.
Mr Nqwababa is a member of Sasol’s Health and Environment Committee as well as being a member of the Capital Investment Committee.
Before Mr Nqwababa joined Sasol, he was the Finance Director at Anglo American Platinum Limited between January 2009 and the February 18, 2015. He has also been the Finance Director for Eskom Holdings and the Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Shell South Africa.
He has also been a non-executive Director at Old Mutual and was the Chairman of the South African Revenue Services Audit Committee until the July 24, 2015. Through his work at all of these different roles, he worked in many different countries around the globe such as the United Kingdom and The Netherlands.
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.