Clever, ca­pa­ble and hard at work

The young but highly ex­pe­ri­enced ex­ec­u­tive has been em­ployed at a range of com­pa­nies in the telecoms sec­tor and will now head the firm that bought Neo­tel

Financial Mail - - PROFILE - Nick Hed­ley hed­leyn@busi­ness­

Some peo­ple take a change of job as an op­por­tu­nity to un­wind and for­get about work for a week or two. But then there’s the other camp, to which Re­shaad Sha firmly be­longs.

Sha, the SA Ceo-in-wait­ing of Liq­uid Tele­com, is squeez­ing in a two-month man­age­ment course at Har­vard Univer­sity be­fore he takes on the new role on June 1.

When it was an­nounced that he had left the Rem­gro sta­ble,

Sha was al­ready in the US on his pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment quest. His en­rol­ment in the man­age­ment course came shortly af­ter he had com­pleted his MBA, spe­cial­is­ing in ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment, at UCT’S Grad­u­ate School of Busi­ness.

Prior to join­ing Liq­uid Tele­com, Sha was an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and head of strat­egy at Dark Fi­bre Africa (DFA), an ope­nac­cess fi­bre­op­tic com­pany con­trolled by Jse-listed Rem­gro.

Sha joined DFA in 2013, and was si­mul­ta­ne­ously CEO of DFA sub­sidiary Sqwid­net, an ope­nac­cess In­ter­net of Things net­work op­er­a­tor.

In an­nounc­ing Sha’s res­ig­na­tion in early April, DFA gave him high praise, say­ing he had “an ex­em­plary ser­vice record with the com­pany”.

DFA CEO Thi­nus Mul­der cred­ited Sha with “for­mal­is­ing” DFA’S prod­uct set and lead­ing the group’s ex­pan­sion into man­aged ser­vices. He had also es­tab­lished stronger public sec­tor re­la­tion­ships and spear­headed DFA’S en­try into fi­bre to the home.

At Liq­uid Tele­com, an Econet Global sub­sidiary, Sha’s man­date will be to grow the group’s dig­i­tal ser­vices oper­a­tions and its net­work ser­vices for en­ter­prises and con­sumers in SA.

He’s join­ing a com­pany that has shown strong growth in re­cent years, thanks in large part to its in­vest­ments in fi­bre con­nec­tiv­ity and sev­eral ac­qui­si­tions.

Liq­uid Tele­com’s growth am­bi­tions prompted the group to cre­ate the role of chief busi­ness de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer in Septem­ber 2017. Willem Marais, a for­mer SA CEO at the group, filled the role and was tasked with driv­ing growth and en­ter­ing new mar­kets.

The com­pany’s re­cent ac­qui­si­tions in­clude net­work op­er­a­tor Neo­tel, which it bought from Tata for R6.6bn in early 2017, and Tan­za­nian In­ter­net ser­vice provider Raha. The Neo­tel deal gave Liq­uid Tele­com a size­able fi­bre net­work in SA and two more data cen­tres.

But Neo­tel was taken over as a turn­around project, mean­ing that on­go­ing in­vest­ments are needed to boost that unit’s growth. Liq­uid Tele­com com­pleted an ex­pan­sion of the Neo­tel data cen­tres it ac­quired in Fe­bru- ary 2018. The fa­cil­i­ties are in Jo­han­nes­burg and Cape Town. Liq­uid Tele­com’s Africa Data Cen­tres unit plans to in­vest fur­ther in these cen­tres, and wants to in­crease ca­pac­ity at the fa­cil­i­ties five-fold over the next five years, the group has said.

To do that, and to re­fi­nance debts and also in­vest in net­work in­fra­struc­ture, Liq­uid Tele­com raised US$180M of debt fund­ing in Novem­ber 2017.

Mean­while, Sha takes over from Kyle White­hill, who re­signed as Liq­uid Tele­com’s SA CEO with ef­fect from March 20. Garth School­ing, its man­ag­ing ex­ec­u­tive of new busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, holds the po­si­tion of in­terim CEO un­til Sha re­turns from the US.

Sha, who could not be reached for comment, has also held the role of di­rec­tor of strat­egy at Cisco and oper­a­tions di­rec­tor at Life­tree Con­ver­gence, among other posts.

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