Staff move to greener pas­tures

Finweek English Edition - - Openers - BELINDA AN­DER­SON

THE DE­PAR­TURE OF a sec­ond se­nior ex­ec­u­tive from Telkom in the mere space of a week is symp­to­matic of the open­ing up of fresh op­por­tu­ni­ties in the sec­tor.

Jo­han Redel­inghuys, chair­man of in­ter­na­tional ex­ec­u­tive search firm Hei­drick & Strug­gles, says there’s in­creased mo­bil­ity all round in the ex­ec­u­tive ranks, be­cause there are so many new op­por­tu­ni­ties that when th­ese come knock­ing, ex­ec­u­tives of­ten find them dif­fi­cult to re­sist.

Whereas Telkom used to be the only place for peo­ple with fixed line ex­pe­ri­ence, now there are other op­por­tu­ni­ties for them to put their skills to good use – and to have an enor­mous ef­fect on a rapidly trans­form­ing in­dus­try. Not only is there an­other fixed line com­peti­tor, but other op­er­a­tors can also pro­vide voice ser­vices and the con­ver­gence of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­ni­ca­tion is also open­ing up other av­enues.

Telkom has a rel­a­tively new CEO, Papi Molot­sane. Redel­inghuys said while there was noth­ing sin­is­ter in this, it was of­ten the case that top ex­ec­u­tives left within a year of the ar­rival of a new CEO due to the per­son’s dif­fer­ent man­age­ment style. This may, or may not, be the case with Telkom.

Thirdly, Redel­inghuys said, as a mo­nop­oly, Telkom was un­der huge pres­sure and came un­der im­mense crit­i­cism due to con­sumer dis­sat­is­fac­tion. This must be dif­fi­cult for top ex­ec­u­tives to bear.

Telkom an­nounced that its chief techni- cal of­fi­cer Thami Msi­mango – who had been re­spon­si­ble for the next gen­er­a­tion net­work project – was leav­ing to pur­sue “other ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties within the ICT sec­tor”. His de­par­ture came hot on the heels of that of chief sales and mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer Wally Beelders only the week be­fore.

Beelders con­firmed that he was not sub­ject to any re­straint of trade agree­ments, and al­though Telkom de­clined to grant Fin­week an in­ter­view with Msi­mango, it seems from his open­ness about pur­su­ing other op­por­tu­ni­ties in the sec­tor, that he’s not re­stricted ei­ther.

In both in­stances Telkom made the point that th­ese skills would not be leav­ing the in­dus­try – a seem­ingly ma­ture re­sponse

from an in­cum­bent op­er­a­tor on the verge of a more com­pet­i­tive mar­ket that should see it los­ing mar­ket share, as Fin­week pointed out last week.

Melissa Ja­cobs, a di­rec­tor at spe­cial­ist tele­coms, IT, tech­ni­cal, sales and sup­port staff re­cruit­ment agency Ku de Ta Group in Four­ways, says in any case, in terms of labour law, re­straints of trade can’t legally be held against for­mer em­ploy­ees, ex­cept per­haps where they had been paid not to work in their in­dus­try for a spe­cific pe­riod.

In­ci­den­tally, Ku De Ta Group is cur­rently re­cruit­ing staff for sec­ond na­tional op­er­a­tor Neo­tel.

Ja­cobs says there’s a huge short­age of can­di­dates for po­si­tions avail­able in the in­dus­try. She says whereas her com­pany used to get 900 re­sponses to a po­si­tion ad­ver­tised in the news­pa­per, now it may only get two or three suit­able can­di­dates, with any oth­ers not match­ing the re­quired qual­i­fi­ca­tions but tak­ing a chance in ap­ply­ing for the po­si­tion any­way.

Al­though Ja­cobs’s fo­cus is more on line man­agers than on very se­nior peo­ple such as Beelders and Msi­mango, her ex­pe­ri­ence seems to be broadly re­flec­tive of the phase of de­vel­op­ment that the in­dus­try is in.

Ja­cobs said the skills short­age had al­ready pushed up salaries, even for tech­ni­cal and sup­port peo­ple, and those with good skills were mov­ing around reg­u­larly – of­ten for rel­a­tively small in­creases.

The fact that most peo­ple with good skills were al­ready tied up in po­si­tions and were not in the job mar­ket, meant though, that em­ploy­ers in the in­dus­try had re­alised they needed to look af­ter their good peo­ple, Ja­cobs said.

In­creased mo­bil­ity in ex­ec­u­tive ranks. Jo­han Redel­inghuys

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