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    Eskom begins its hunt for new CEO who must keep the lights on

    February 6, 2023 - Siphelele Dludla


      Eskom has officially gone to the market in search of a highly competent CEO whose major tasks will be to keep the lights on and completing the unbundling process after the departure of Andre de Ruyter at the end of March.

      This comes after De Ruyter, who was the highest-earning board member at R7.04 million per annum, resigned voluntarily in December but said he would stay on for the next three months to facilitate a smooth transition.

      In an internal and external advertisement posted on its website, the struggling power utility said the new group CEO must have a postgraduate degree in engineering, business administration, economics or suitable qualification at NQF level 8 with 480 credits.

      However, an undergraduate degree, with an MBA or other relevant postgraduate degree, will be an advantage.

      The closing date for applications is Monday, February 27, 2023 and the new CEO is expected to take office from April 1.

      Eskom board member Mteto Nyathi last week said the process of finding a new CEO was well under way and that the nominations committee should have a list of possible candidates quite soon.

      “The company has been hard at work and they will be presenting to the nomination committee a long list in the next two weeks,” Nyati said.

      “That's the beginning of the process, and then we will end up with a shortlist at some point.”

      In terms of experience, the prospective candidate must have at least 15 - 20 years’ senior management experience at executive committee level.

      They must also have a solid track record of working in a complex environment, leading business turnaround, ideally within emerging markets; among others.

      The new CEO should demonstrate a solid understanding of global trends within the energy sector and their applicability to local market conditions, and have a demonstrable and sustainable track record of turning around commercially and operationally challenged organisations.

      This is quite important since Eskom has a mounting debt of more than R400 billion -- a significant portion of which the government has committed to shoulder -- beginning from the new financial year.

      “[The new CEO must] lead and build an executive team, which will stabilise an organisation in crisis, while managing diverse and sometimes conflicting stakeholder expectations and ensure that the organisation manages risk and regulatory compliance, requirements, whilst achieving fiscal discipline and reducing high debt level,” reads the advert.

      “An inspiring and engaging executive who will be seen as a strong leader of Eskom and viewed throughout the industry as an effective leader.”

      Also, this must be a person with a strong commercial acumen with a successful track record in managing the strategic turnaround of a commercial entity operating within a complex environment with over 20 000+ employees and an annual turnover in excess of R50bn.

      The CEO position at Eskom is like a poisoned chalice as de Ruyter is the 11th CEO to have left the company in just more than 10 years, including current board chairperson Mpho Makwana, Phakamani Hadebe, Sean Maritz and Jabu Mabuza.

      However, Eskom has decided to do away with the position of chief operating officer due to unbundling when Jan Oberholzer retires in April after more than 20 years at the utility.

      The power utility is currently going through its worst bouts of load shedding in history and has targeted five key priorities to ease power cuts, including a 24-month generation recovery plan and securing funds to purchase the diesel used to run emergency units.

      Eskom escalated the rolling power cuts to Stage 6 and Stage 5 last week following breakdowns at several generating units before reducing it to Stage 4 over the weekend.

      This has led to calls for the government to declare a National State of Disaster on Eskom, a move, which led to a Cabinet Lekgotla meeting last week to investigate whether it fulfilled the legal requirements.



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