Staff move to greener pastures
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