Kganki Matabane takes on the BBC as its cool unifier
‘I really didn’t know what to do about my future – there was no career guidance at school and my parents simply couldn’t advise or help me.’
He’s a seasoned business executive with more than two decades’ experience in operations and strategy, doing business on the African continent in the telecommunications, power utilities, rail logistics, motor retail, bus rapid transport and mining sectors.
While at Sentech, he drove international business and also achieved five consecutive clean audits – a first for the government agency.
“To achieve a clean audit you need to be able to meet the financial targets and achieve 80 percent of your strategic objectives or key performance indicators – your compliance to corporate governance and supply chain policies should be excellent,” he says.
Matabane is also a former executive director for operations and transformation policy at Business Unity SA, and worked for the Black Management Forum, the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, City Power and Transnet.
After school, with no means to study, he had a stint as a teacher’s assistant, teaching maths, accounting and economics for a year.
“I used the money I earned from my year of teaching to fund my first semester of cost and management accounting and then got a bursary for my second semester at Setlogelo Technikon (now Tshwane University of Technology) in the former Bophuthatswana – I passed with distinction.”
He later switched his course to Wits Technikon (now the University of Johannesburg), working weekends at Stuttafords in Eastgate Mall as a stock taker and shop assistant while studying.
Matabane remembers his time at the “Harrods of South Africa” fondly. “I was quite heartsore when they closed.”
In 1998, he completed his bachelor of technology degree in cost and management accounting at Technikon South Africa (now part of Unisa).
In the next two months, he expects to receive his master’s in business leadership through Unisa’s Graduate School of Business Leadership.
It’s been a long, tough slog, but Matabane is proud of his achievements.
“My biggest regret though was on completing matric, I knew that there was no money to study and I had no idea what to do. My parents simply couldn’t afford it. It’s why I always encourage people to study and attain personal development, because I don’t want other people to suffer what I did.”
To give back to his community in Limpopo, he started a Mathomo-Mayo youth club to organise career guidance for youngsters, inviting companies like Sasol to present career options to pupils.
It has helped create opportunities for rural youths, assisting them with their subject choices, bursary and NSFAS applications.
His new role entails running the BBC and building on the work of his predecessors. “I also need to ensure that the BBC is strengthened in order for it to play its role of transforming the South African economy and representing the hopes and aspirations of Black Business in SA, the continent and globally.”
He’s enthusiastic about his new role at the BBC and the council seems to have picked an adept manager. “I’m able to work in difficult situations and play the role of a unifier – I come in to resolve conflict. It’s a natural strength for me, and to be cool under pressure.”
It’s about achieving balance. Matabane’s a keen distance runner and is actively involved in his three young daughters’ education. “When I get home at night, I help them with their homework. I run half-marathons, about three times a week. These things are important.
“A friend once told me: you must never become a position because what happens when you’re no longer in it and you’re no longer receiving the important phone calls and the attention. Separate friends and acquaintances – real friends will always be there. I try to live by that.”