Who Should Replace Shameel Joosub As CEO Of Vodacom?

It’s up to the Vodacom board to decide who should be in line to replace Joosub when the time comes.

Shammeel Joosub, Vodacom CEO
Shammeel Joosub, Vodacom CEO

By now everyone who cares knows that Vodacom is not keen on Yolanda Cuba as a successor to the present boss Shameel Joosub, even though having a woman at the helm would be good for the company’s inclusive culture.

The South African telecoms sector, especially the mobile phone industry, exhibits a toxic masculine “bro-culture”. Having Cuba at the helm of Vodacom would most likely change the unsavoury culture of the company. 

Also read: Is Vodacom’s Yolanda Cuba On The Move Again?

If Joosub were to step down, who should step in to run Vodacom?

Techfinancials wonders, along with many others, if Vodacom has any capable executives left to replace Joosub when the time comes for him to leave.

Over the past few years, Vodacom has forced out or lost key executives that should have been part of its succession plan.

Vuyani Jarana left Vodacom to become the boss of South African Airways, where he is set to turn around the ailing national carrier. 

While Rob Shuter was snapped up by Africa’s biggest mobile phone company, MTN Group. He is creating shareholder value and stabilising the behemoth mobile phone operator from its troubles in Nigeria and Iran.

Other executives, who could have been perfect as a replacement to Joosub, include Sipho Maseko [now Telkom CEO] and Peter Matlare [now Deputy CEO of the Group, responsible for Absa Regional Operations] and Peter Moyo [Old Mutual CEO].

While Nku Nyembezi could have been the first black female boss to run a mobile phone operator in South Africa, Vodacom snubbed her. That said, Vodacom’s loss became a gain for ArcelorMittal. Nyembezi became the first woman to chair Alexander Forbes in 82 years.

For more read: Is Vodacom a ‘breeding ground’ for CEOs in South Africa?

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

Does the Vodacom board have an internal contingency plan in place for a successor to Joosub in case of an emergency? The answer has to be no.

Vodacom’s boss Joosub has been at the helm of the mobile phone operator since 2012 after replacing Pieter Uys – that’s seven years in the hot seat.

Fresh ideas could take Vodacom forward.

Vodacom may soon need someone to take the baton to implement the new strategy focusing on being a key partner in the 4th Industrial Revolution, and to change it from a traditional telco to a digital services company.

While Techfinancials respects how much Vodacom under Joosub’s leadership has accomplished over the last seven years in the face of stiff competition from a bigger rival such as MTN, I believe a new CEO will take Vodacom to greater heights.

I believe all is not lost for Vodacom and its board, plus its main shareholder Vodafone.

Last May, Vodacom appointed William Mzimba as chief officer of Vodacom Business to replace Vuyani Jarana.

Internally at Vodacom, no one gave him a chance to succeed. They whispered that this man from Accenture couldn’t repeat the great feat achieved by Jarana at Vodacom.

In the past year, which marks his one-year anniversary at Vodacom, Mzimba has delivered enormous value at the Vodafone-owned mobile phone company. He ensured that Vodacom Business continued to fire on all cylinders and elevated the business unit to the next level.

William Mzimba
William Mzimba

As a head of the business unit, Mzimba led a team that ensured Vodacom acquire IoT.nxt, one of South Africa’s innovative IoT startups that are expanding globally and a company to watch in the next few years.

The acquisition will significantly accelerate its IoT strategy and transform its dedicated IoT business unit.

He also enabled Vodacom to go big on Cloud.

Mzimba, who reports directly to Joosub, has been instrumental in helping Vodacom clinch a deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Vodacom will become both a customer of AWS and a reseller of AWS services across Africa. The partnership is a “game-changer” because it takes Vodacom beyond being just a big seller of connectivity.

In short, Vodacom leveraging AWS’ highly scalable and available cloud platform will deliver the innovative product-led transition to full Cloud solution offering.

Thanks to Mzimba’s leadership and foresight Vodacom seems likely to become the biggest IoT and cloud services enabler and provider in Africa.

To show that Mzimba has bigger ambitions, he has quietly changed his title from the chief officer of Vodacom Business into the chief executive of Vodacom Business. 

It could be a small thing to uninitiated but that’s a declaration of the fact that I am talented, experienced and deserve to be a chief executive of this massive operation at Vodacom. As an outsider, this is a revolt to say notice me, I have qualities to lead.

That said, Mzimba knows how to run a big entity and has proved that at Accenture and has mastered the value of treating customers well. He could address a lot of customer issues facing Vodacom and bring new fresh ideas to the mobile phone industry.

To top it all, Mzimba has a proven track record in leveraging technology as a business enabler to drive results, as well as implementing successful strategies in growing businesses.

Mzimba could be an interesting choice to replace Joosub. But Vodacom has proven for a long time that it’s not easy for a black African to occupy that position.

One hopes Mzimba stays and is eventually elevated to the top to enable him to revamp Vodacom and make it a digital services company.

It’s up to the Vodacom board to decide who should be in line to replace Joosub when the time comes. – lourie@techfinancials.co.za



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