Qualifications of South Africa’s CEOs

Having a tertiary education does not always guarantee success, however in the case of South African business, it certainly helps.

Research conducted by executive placement agency, Rebmormax, noted that 38% of the country’s CEO’s are chartered accountants.

A third of CEO’s in the top 100 listed companies in SA held a BCom degree, while 16% had an MBA.

If you have ambitions of becoming a chief executive of a listed company in South Africa, then

BusinessTech looked at the tertiary qualification of chief executives of the five biggest companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, along with the education of the top banking executives, and those leaders within the telecoms industry.

Koos Bekker
Koos Bekker

JSE heavyweights

Nicandro Durante , who is Brazilian/Italian, is Chief executive Officer at British American Tobacco. He holds degrees in finance, economics and business administration from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo.

Alan Clark, chief executive of brewer SABMiller, holds a doctorate of Psychology degree from the University of South Africa.

Johannesburg born Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, one of the world’s largest commodity trading and mining companies, obtained a Bachelor Degree in Accountancy at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Bob van Dijk Group CEO of media and internet giant Naspers, has an MBA from INSEAD  graduate business school, and an MSc in econometrics from Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Van Dijk took over Naspers from Koos Bekker in 2014, who obtained a Law & Literature  degree from Stellenbosch University and University of the Witwatersrand.

South African luxury goods tycoon, Johann Rupert  is chairman and CEO of Compagnie Financiere Richemont, and also the country’s richest man.

He dropped out of the University of Stellenbosch to pursue a career in business. In 2004, the university awarded him an honorary doctorate in Economics.

Scottish born Andrew Mackenzie is currently CEO of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company.

Mackenzie studied at the University of Bristol where he was awarded a PhD in Organic Chemistry.

CEO Company University Qualification
Koos Bekker Naspers Stellenbosch, Wits Law, Literature
Nicandro Durante British American Tobacco Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo Degree: Finance, Economics and Business Administration
Alan Clark SABMiller Unisa PhD Psych
Ivan Glasenberg Glencore Wits B Acc
Bob van Dijk Naspers INSEAD, Erasmus University Rotterdam MBA, MSc Econometrics
Johann Rupert Richemont Dropped out Honorary Doctorate
Andrew Mackenzie BHP Billiton University of Bristol PhD in Organic Chemistry

The Big five banks

FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape, while also obtaining a Bachelor Of Accounting Science (BCompt) (Hons), and CA(SA) degrees.

Jacques Celliers, CEO at FNB received a B.Eng (Civil) at Stellenbosch University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Cape Town.

Celliers also received an MBA as an exchange scholar at the Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania).

Standard Bank Group is in the slightly unconventional position of having two chief executives.

Ben Kruger has a BCom (Hons) from Pretoria , CA(SA), and a Advanced Management Program (AMP) from Harvard in the US.

Sim Tshabalala holds an BA LLB from Rhodes University, an LLM from the University of Notre Dame in the US, an HDip Tax from Wits, and an Advanced Management Program (AMP) from Harvard in the US.

Maria Ramos
Maria Ramos

Barclays Africa Group chief executive, Maria Ramos has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of the Witwatersrand, along with a bankers Diploma (CAIB) from the Institute of Bankers in South Africa.

Ramos also holds a Master of Science degree from the University of London.

Nedbank Group CEO – Mike Brown obtained a Bachelor of Commerce, along with a Diploma in Accounting from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He also recieved an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) from Harvard Business School (US).

Relative newcomer to the top of the banking echelon, Capitec appointed  long serving employee Gerrie Fourie as CEO in 2013. Fourie holds a BComm (Hons), and an MBA degree.

CEO Company University Qualification
Sizwe Nxasana FirstRand Fort Hare BCom, (BCompt) (Hons), CA(SA)
Jacques Celliers FNB Stellenbosch, UCT B.Eng (Civil), MBA
Ben Kruger Standard Bank UP, Harvard BCom (Hons), CA(SA), AMP
Sim Tshabalala Standard Bank Rhodes, University of Notre Dame, Wits, Harvard BA LLB, LLM, HDip Tax, AMP
Maria Ramos Absa Wits, University of London BCom, CAIB, MSc
Mike Brown Nedbank UKZN, Harvard BCom, AMP
Gerrie Fourie Capitec Stellenbosch BCom (Hons), MBA


MyBroadband recently compiled and extensive list of qualifications held by IT professionals.

Below is an infographic showing the qualifications of the heads of SA’s biggest telecom firms, including Vodacom’s CEO, Shameel Joosub, Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko and MTN group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa.

Telco qualifications
Telco qualifications

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Qualifications of South Africa’s CEOs