Tech execs leave South Africa — and land top jobs overseas

Many prominent South African IT and telecommunications CEOs have left South Africa and are now in top positions internationally.

Skilled professionals have been leaving South Africa for years in search of a more secure life in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, and Canada.

Emigration is particularly prevalent among high-income professionals. In 2019 it was estimated that at least 400,000 high-income professionals have left South Africa.

The 2021 African wealth report, which was produced by AfrAsia bank in collaboration with New World Wealth, reveals a similar trend among South Africa’s ultra-rich.

The report revealed that the number of millionaires living in South Africa declined over the last decade.

There are now 36,500 dollar millionaires, those with a net worth of $1 million or more, living in South Africa — down 1,900 over the last year.

One of the reasons for this decline is the ongoing migration of wealthy people out of South Africa.

AfrAsia estimated that around 4,200 high net worth individuals have left South Africa over the past decade. Most of them settled in the UK, Australia, and USA.

Anecdotal evidence from the South African IT and telecoms market supports AfrAsia’s findings.

Many tech executives have left South Africa in recent years and are now serving in senior roles in the UK and Australia.

Last year alone South Africa lost many IT and telecoms business leaders, including former MTN CEO Rob Shuter, Nashua executive Mark Taylor, and Webafrica CEO Tim Wyatt-Gunning.

Here is a summary of high-profile tech executives who have left South Africa in recent years and where they are now.

Rob Shuter – Former MTN CEO, now BT Enterprise chief executive officer in the United Kingdom.

Rob Shuter
MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter

Mark Taylor – Former Reunert and Nashua executive, now Ricoh International CEO in the United Kingdom.

Jaco Jonker – Former Bidorbuy CEO, now Open Colleges CFO in Australia.

Jaco Jonker

Gary Hadfield – Former Loot CEO, now Getvov CEO in the United Kingdom.

Gary Hadfield

Michael Needham – Former head of solutions architecture at AWS in Cape Town, now solutions architecture readiness lead for Asia Pacific and Japan in Australia.

Michael Needham

Lambo Kanagaratnam – Former MTN SA CTO and chief enterprise business officer, now Optus Network MD in Australia.

Kanagaratnam Lamboratham

Eben Albertyn – Former MTN SA CTO, now VodafoneZiggo executive director of technology in the Netherlands.

Eben Albertyn

Deon Liebenberg – Former managing executive at Vodacom, now Optus vice president in Australia.

Deon Liebenberg

Now read: New legislation to narrow pay gap in South Africa

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Tech execs leave South Africa — and land top jobs overseas