South African business leaders continue to support CEOX1Day programme

Now in its sixth year, Odgers Berndtson’s CEOx1Day programme continues to develop South Africa’s future leaders by providing promising MBA students with the opportunity to spend a day in the shoes of a CEO from one of South Africa’s leading organisations.

The 2019 edition of the CEOX1Day programme saw a particularly positive response from South African students and businesses, as 12 students with outstanding leadership potential were paired with top leaders from organisations including Hollard, Microsoft, EOH, Illovo Sugar and VWSA.

CEOx1Day South Africa Students Finalists 2019

Lauren van Halderen, joint MD of Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa, explains that this experience is not only aimed at shaping future-fit leaders. “At Odgers Berndtson, we know that leadership must evolve. Our 2020 Leadership Confidence Index found that only 15% of business executives worldwide have confidence in their own top leadership to successfully manage disruption – including unexpected events like pandemics, technological advances, shifting demographics and climate change. This leadership evolution requires a sharing of skills and a shared will to do what’s right. Through these reciprocal learning and mentorship opportunities, both current and future leaders are able to grow.”

Adding Value

Through their interactions with the CEOs, the students are exposed to real-time decision making, business practice and collaboration – adding unprecedented value to their studies and giving them first-hand executive-level experience.

  • Tshepo Ntsane, who spent the day in the shoes of Saks Ntombela, CEO of Hollard Insurance Group, said:

    “The most valuable part of the experience was witnessing how open and engaging Saks is with his colleagues and team, and how he constantly engages with them on their feedback and thoughts.”

  • Shivani Ghai, who spent the day in the shoes of Tertius Carstens, CEO of Pioneer Foods, said:

    “The most valuable part of the experience was learning first-hand how much work goes into putting food on the tables of South Africans. I mean essential foods like maize and bread. Everything is meticulously crafted and tested by people who are truly passionate about what they do.”

  • Amogelang Kgaladi, who spent the day in the shoes of Grant Pattison, CEO of Edcon, said:

    “The most valuable part of the experience was witnessing executive-level decisions being made in real-time.”

Changing Perceptions

The CEOs, on the other hand, were exposed to some of the country’s most promising leaders, which shifted some of their perceptions around young leadership.

  • Thomas Schaefer, CEO of VWSA, who was paired with Katlego Makgoale, said:

    “Leading up to the programme I feared we may experience hierarchal barriers and a lack of interaction. The opposite was true – Katlego was extremely well informed and inquisitive and he asked questions all the time. Good questions!”

  • Lillian Barnard, CEO of Microsoft, who was paired with Leabetswe Bomvana, said:

    “I absolutely held to pre-conceived assumptions going into the day. Personally, it was a good experience to meet a confident, intelligent lady who is certainly on a good trajectory to make a strong impact as a future business leader in our country.”

  • Jurie Schoeman, CEO of BSG, who was paired with Mahlogonolo Phahlamohlaka, said:

    “While I didn’t have a lot of assumptions going into the day, I was pleasantly surprised by how open Mahlogonolo was to adding her voice to discussions in our team environments, despite meeting people for the first time; and how committed she was to learning, both formally and informally.”

Chania Stempowski, joint MD of Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa, notes that in its six years, the programme has successfully held 69 pairings of CEOs and students. “We work with the leading business schools in South Africa to find and pair the MBA students who then spend the day learning about how organisations operate, and the type of leadership required to manage these companies. It’s our hope to foster future-fit leaders across various industries and business sectors.”

As a world leader in executive search, Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa is committed to continuing these opportunities. If you would like to apply to be part of the programme, please click here.