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Meet Sipho Maseko, controversial CEO and saviour of Telkom

20 February 2015 4:17 PM

We speak to the man who is, against all odds, slowly but surely, turning Telkom around.

(Click here for more "Shapeshifter" articles.)

In 2013, just after Sipho Maseko took over as CEO, Telkom was in deep trouble with shares trading at R27.32. Today the company is trading at R77.90 after racking up gains of 150 percent in 2014, the best of all companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Maseko trained as a lawyer at Wits during the late 1980s where he was active in student politics. However, he never practiced and joined the Financial Services Board instead.

BP South Africa recruited him in 1997. He quickly rose through the ranks and by 2008 he was the CEO. He left BP in 2012 to join Vodacom as COO; a position he didn’t hold for long.

On joining Telkom

Maseko took some time out after leaving Telkom. “I did the things I never got a chance to do,” he says. “I went to school concerts at 10.00am and spent a lot of time with my family and friends. I stopped, for a while, always rushing to catch a flight.

“Taking a break really anchored me. I connected with family and friends in a way I haven’t done in a long time. It was the best time of my life!”

Maseko knew that Telkom was looking for a CEO. He considered applying but, at first, had doubts if he wanted to be part of a company that spat out five of its last CEOs in very quick succession.

On accusations of fraud

In July 2014 the media reported that Maseko was being investigated for fraud. He was accused of driving a Range Rover with cloned number plates and running up traffic fines of R30 000.

Maseko denies the claims and maintains that no formal complaint was ever laid.

On Telkom’s service levels

South Africans know Telkom for its notoriously poor service, acknowledges Maseko.

“The transformation journey at Telkom will be very long and difficult. The customer experience issues are very deep in Telkom. Telkom is 130 years old and for 110 years we’ve never had to compete with anyone. We’re adapting slowly and tackling these systemic issues.”

On buying Cell C

“I will consider all options that are on the table,” says Maseko. “I think Cell C is doing quite well and, if they’re formally on the market, depending on what they’re going for...

“We can have a look if the price and proposition is right.”

Lonely at the top

“Being CEO can be lonely,” admits Maseko. “But I still love to do the things that I’ve always done. I visit my parents; I hang out with friends. We talk very little about the work that I do. We talk about the things that we love.”

(Click here for more "Shapeshifter" articles.)

Listen to the audio for more detail or watch the video below that.

20 February 2015 4:17 PM


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