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Exec level changes won’t impact Africa strategy says Seacom

Oliver Fortuin, CEO, Seacom.
Oliver Fortuin, CEO, Seacom.

While internet and data transmission provider Seacom has announced a series of changes to its leadership structure – most recently that of Prenesh Padayachee as Group Chief Digital Officer, the company is adamant the changes were expected and will not impact its ongoing strategy to engage Africa.

In mid-January 2021, ITWeb Africa reported that Padayachee had been appointed as Group CDO, and that Chief Technical Officer Claes Segelberg had resigned.

The company added that Padayachee, former CTO at Internet Solutions and former Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Telkom Openserve, would also be absorbing the Chief Information Officer role.

The announcement followed news from the company in December 2020 that Byron Clatterbuck, who joined the ICT company in 2012 as its Chief Commercial Officer, and became Seacom Group CEO in February 2015, had resigned and would end his tenure with the company on 31 March 2021.

Seacom confirmed that Oliver Fortuin, then Group Chief Enterprise Officer at MTN, would step into the role of Group CEO from 4 January 2021.

The company stated that Fortuin has worked for over two decades in the ICT sector, across South Africa and the rest of Africa, with organisations such as IBM, BT, and, most recently, MTN.

In August 2020, Seacom's Chief Strategy Officer, Suveer Ramdhani resigned to pursue other interests. The company issued a statement in which it said the resignation would not impact any deals in the pipeline and it would “continue to look for opportunities to expand our business in Africa both organically as well as through M&A activity.”

Seacom acknowledged these announcements seemed sudden, but said they had been planned for.

The company told ITWeb Africa: “Although the announcements recently on the executive changes at Seacom seem sudden, they have actually been planned for a while now. Byron has expressed publicly that he has resigned for personal reasons, delaying the final move until he was 100% happy that the right leader was ready to take over the leadership of Seacom, and Claes is close to retirement age. The transition is being well managed and was planned out well in advance.”

“Byron and Claes were instrumental in creating a brand that is not only well recognised, but a brand that instills confidence with our customers, the market and our stakeholders. Both have played an important role in identifying the best candidates to succeed them, who closely embody the Seacom culture, and to drive Seacom’s next phase of growth.”

The company emphasised that in terms of its Africa ambitions, there is no change to its ongoing strategy.

“Seacom isn’t pursuing a new strategy, the company is still dedicated to providing a full suite of flexible, scalable and high-quality communications and cloud solutions that enable the growth of our continent’s economy. Seacom recognises that it needs to evolve with the changing needs of the African continent to continue to play a key role in Africa’s digital development. As a consequence, we need to be flexible and ready to adapt our approach and plans to continue to be relevant. We believe that Africa needs extensive investment in Infrastructure to allow us to participate effectively in the global economy, and that Seacom can play an important role as we have in the past.”

The company also stressed that although there is change and “an injection of new blood”, it believes it is growing the next generation of leaders within its ranks and that the new members of its executive team have a well thought out transition process underway with full support from the previous management team.

“Byron and Claes will both be staying on for a period to assist the new team members and ensure a smooth change. We are confident that we have a strong level of continuity in key positions and with the support of Claes and Byron, any potential risk will be minimised. We are also confident in the strategy that the business has adopted and all stakeholders have signed up to, including the outgoing executive team.”

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