A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate has just been named the first woman, and first black person, to become chief executive of one of South Africa's biggest companies.
Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, who graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from DMU in 1996, is taking the helm at Naspers South Africa, part of a $108-billion enterprise that invests in technology around the world.
She will be based in Johannesburg where she will lead the group’s day-to-day business in the country and be responsible for Naspers Foundry, designed to help stimulate the South African tech sector, and Naspers Labs, a social impact initiative to tackle youth unemployment.
Phuthi said: “I am thrilled to be joining Naspers at such a pivotal time for the group and for South Africa and look forward to adding value to the group in realising its strategy.”
Bob van Dijk, Group CEO Naspers, said: “Phuthi is a seasoned leader with a strong track record of achievement throughout her career. Her significant investor and board experience across varied sectors, makes Phuthi the perfect match for this important role at Naspers.”
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Financial news and media company Bloomberg says that Phuthi’s appointment has ‘upended’ a century of history for the company. Naspers was founded 115 years ago by white South Africans to produce a Dutch-language newspaper and is now a global multi-billion dollar company.
Ron Klipin, a senior analyst at South African wealth creation company Cratos Capital, told Bloomberg: “Phuthi is qualified, and brings in some good experience, plus she brings some gender and racial equality into the mix. You need a person who can also take your South African portfolio forward and grow it - change the landscape even further.”
Owen Nkomo, CEO of Inkunzi Wealth, who has worked with Phuthi recently on a number of projects, added: “She is very smart and she will adapt to the environment that she is being put into. She has worked closely with the current president, so in terms of access maybe to the right networks - if that business does require access - I believe she will bring that into the company.”
Phuthi has most recently been executive chairperson of Sigma Capital, a privately held investment group that focuses on black-empowerment deals, private equity and joint ventures across sectors including finance, real estate, technology and energy.
Posted on Thursday 4th July 2019