ABSA’S POISONED CHALICE
ABSA’S MOST RECENT appointment to head its high-turnover communications department has quit after less than three months in the position. Former SABMiller public affairs manager Adrian Botha has had one of the shortest stays in office in a position that’s seen five other high-profile executives leave since 2003. Botha is the fourth person in the position since Barclays plc bought a controlling stake in Absa 18 months ago.
Botha’s predecessors include Douglas Ramaphosa, who left Absa to join Anglo American; marketer Angela Bruwer; and, until fairly recently, Nick Cairns, who had served African Bank before joining Absa. Cairns left soon after the Barclays takeover.
Marketing guru Brendan O’Donnell was briefly in the swivelling seat before his sudden shift to the Marketing Federation of SA. His successor, Kenneth Clarke, also had a short tenure and the department was left without a head for some months before Botha’s appointment.
It all implies that there are serious issues – at least within the group’s communications division.
“There’s no problem,” says a spokesman. “Absa is a rapidly evolving organisation. You do get casualties when you get the kind of growth we’ve had.”
Perhaps what’s most telling is that not one of the six communications heads has remained within the group. All have left the business. It’s unclear what the circumstances of Botha’s departure are, as he declined to comment – despite repeated promises by Absa that it would issue a statement concerning his resignation. Absa had failed to do so by the time of writing.
Absa was once proud of its status as “Best company to work for” in subsequent reviews in 2002/2003. However, numerous changes have occurred since the Barclays takeover and many of those have happened at senior level. The group’s executive committee has seen five of its members leave office over the past year.