KPMG SA Chairman reflects on factors contributing to the firm's downfall

05 April 2019 Consultancy.co.za

Chairman at KPMG South Africa Wiseman Nkuhlu has released an editorial detailing the nature of mistakes made by the Big Four accounting and advisory firm in the recent state capture scandals that have severely damaged its operations in the country, and offering the context within which these mistakes were made.

Nkuhlu was appointed Chairman at KPMG in South Africa a few months after its involvement in the Gupta scandal first broke out in late 2017. His appointment – in January 2018 – followed the restructuring of the entire KPMG South Africa leadership team in September 2017.

As it turns out, Nkuhlu’s appointment was among the early and much less drastic measures taken by the firm to ensure that its operations stabilise in the country. KPMG has since changed its CEO again, has made substantial budget cuts that have led to the laying off of employees, and has now completely revamped its business profile.

In this context, and in the wake of some semblance of stability being restored at the firm, Nkuhlu has offered his opinion on all that has unraveled at the firm. Nkuhlu’s explanation of events is grounded in the deep-seated corruption at the heart of South Africa’s political environment.

KPMG SA Chairman reflects on factors contributing to the firm's downfall

According to him, while the benefit of hindsight has offered tremendous clarity as to the connections between major businesses and political leaders, these connections were highly covert in nature up until two years ago. As a result, an international firm conducting business in South Africa had few ways of discerning these connections. 

A mixture of the thrill of winning major contracts and a set of pre determined business practices drove KPMG into business with organisations and individuals that should have been approached with caution. Nkuhlu does not absolve KPMG of responsibility in this scenario.

“I am not seeking to excuse. Plainly, KPMG SA should have been quicker to stop working for the Guptas and ought never to have accepted the SA Revenue Service (Sars) assignment,” he says. Speaking of the firm’s success and consequent confidence, he said,” When this is not properly managed, for example by setting the right tone at the top, it can lead to complacency and a belief that the organisation can do no wrong.”

“But while there are many instances in our society of outright corruption by individuals or corporations, there are other cases where organisations ran into trouble because they lacked sufficient scepticism and weren’t appreciative of the broader political environment,” said Nkuhlu.

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Palesa Madumo and Tshepo Sefotlhelo take the helm at Vuma Reputation Management

18 April 2019 Consultancy.co.za

Two years after a change in ownership, South African public relations consultancy Vuma Reputation Management has announced a change in its senior leadership. Palesa Madumo and Tsehpo Sefotlhelo take over as joint CEOs at the firm to replace incumbent CEO Janine Hills.

Vuma was established in 2005, and has grown into a successful public and reputation management firm. The firm’s services include media training, stakeholder management and crisis communication, among others. In 2017, the firm underwent a change in ownership to improve its compliance status with the B-BBEE framework.

Janine Hills, who founded the company in 2005, has now stepped down from her position as CEO. Hills is a former executive in the hospitality sector and has also worked for telecom giants Vodacom in the past. Her goal with Vuma was to leverage her nearly three decades of experience to helo firms across South Africa with managing challenging economic scenarios.

Now, Hills believes it is time for her to step down from her position at the helm. She will be replaced by Palesa Madumo and Tshepo Sefotlhelo, who will act as joint CEOs. Madumo holds a degree in Management from Stellenbosch University and has over 15 years of professional experience.

Palesa Madumo and Tshepo Sefotlhelo take the helm at Vuma Reputation Management

She has communications consultancy experience, and has been the Head of Group Communications at Business Connexion. Sefotlhelo is also a highly experienced professional, having worked in the media relations domain for a number of years, including at Ogilvy public Relations.

He was a Business Director at Ogilvy, and will now take over at CEO. He holds a degree in marketing from the University of Johannesburg. As the new CEOs take over, Hills will remain on the board of Vuma, where she will continue to play an active role in organisational decisions.

“A good leader knows when to pass the baton to the next generation of leadership. It is time for the Executive Directors to take over and I am confident that they are well equipped to take Vuma Reputation Management to greater heights,” said Hills.

“We would like to thank Janine for her vision, leadership and confidence in our capabilities to lead Vuma following her years at the helm. This is a great example of what can be achieved through a true commitment to transformation. Having been in the business for years, Palesa and I have the skills and experience to scale the company and ensure its sustainability into the future,” added Sefotlhelo.

 

Madumo said of her promotion, “Working off an excellent foundation makes our roles - to continue providing excellent service to our valued clients and stakeholders and ensuring that the organisation has skilled and happy people working in it, an exciting prospect.”